Meeting Notes from 10/03

The JSS has just come off of an exciting meeting number two!

 

The highlight of the evening was the record-breaking attendance. True, we’ve only had one previous meeting, but a record is a record is a record.

 

Thirteen people attended three days before Friday the 13th! Now if that doesn’t cause a numerologist to quake in their size 11 and ½ boots, I don’t know what would.

 

Pat yourselves on the back, Skeptics. You’ve made your Sultan proud!

 

Here’s what was discussed:

 

Finding a logo. We need a logo. Something futuristic and mad-science themed would be preferable, but it also needs to be scalable and digitized so that it can be put on websites, coffee cups, coasters and T-shirts when the inevitable flood of fanboy (and fangirl) support washes over us with the materialistic desire for JSS gear.

 

The first thing the logo would be used for would be a sign identifying our table when you walk into the bar. I know several people wandered around aimlessly until they found us, but Randi and I are working on a solution for the next meeting. You won’t miss us.

 

We need a slogan. “We’re skeptics and we can prove it” is already taken, by the way.

 

We need (man are we needy) new venues for publicity. I’ve been busy forging contacts with the Mid-South Humanist Council, local atheist groups, and the Southern Skeptical Society – you all should give it a shot and use word of mouth. Word of mouth is still our greatest drawing power. Currently, there are few methods for local publicity that I use: First, fliers. The fliers in the Rainbow seem to get a lot of play. They also reside in Sneaky Beans and Cups in Fondren. Fliers near hospitals seems like a good idea (The Pizza Shak) and maybe if there’s a place to put stuff in UMC that could work. Also, it seems foolish that we’re not prominent on campuses. Budding young scientists don’t need to end up looking for bigfoot. Put you collegiate friends and connections to work. I know they don’t work much.

 

I put the event on Facebook via the group site and invitations get sent out about a week early, and then the day before. Also, it goes on the Jackson Free Press website. Early posting here insures that it will go into the Free Press print edition. Finally, I put the event on the LoungeList website, which is fine, but also there is a serious overlap between the JFP and Loungelist, so there’s that. Any ideas for local websites or free papers?

 

Our chop-tastic skeptic Jeremiah came up with a good idea for a simple skeptical project – a collection of ridiculous email forwards. Obviously, the ones with pseudo-science and gullibility would be preferable! Also, letting people know that nothing ill will befall them (and nothing good will come of forwarding it) is a key part.

 

The multi-talented Walter told us all that the diagram of taste buds on your tongue you may have learned in high school is WRONG! Turns out that the taste buds are scattered all over your tongue. What was it that Albert Einstein said about common sense? “Common sense is just the accumulation of years of incorrect beliefs?” Or something like that. Might not have been Einstein, even.

 

New member Dennis informed us that the local medical examiners are possibly putting people on death row and behind bars without proper evidence, and have been caught making evidence up. Why they aren’t in jail is beyond me, but I have heard from the ACLU that the doc in question, Steven Hayne, is no longer allowed to provide forensic evidence.

 

Dennis also lead to some interesting information about the lack of science in the courtroom – it turns out that a lot of things like bite-mark analysis, ballistics studies, and your CSI mainstays aren’t as reproducible, reliable, and effective as the TV may have led you to believe.

 

On that note – have you ever wanted to watch an autopsy? Science-minded individuals are welcome to watch for non-scientific shenanigans! Just think, you could be like (or maybe meet!) Agent Scully.* Those interested should email me and we’ll see if we can’t work out something with the proper authorities. *Agent Scully is not guaranteed, nor real.

 

Currently, a debate between a creationist/Intelligent Design proponent and a biologist (or, barring that, myself) is in the works! Unfortunately, I think it will be at USM. If it draws a crowd, we’ll need to redo it in Jackson, so be thinking about where/when/how that could go down! If you know anyone who will debate (for free) email me! You college kids should know some way to get us on campus.

 

Our #1 goal at the moment is to find a psychic. A PET psychic would be particularly juicy debunk-bait. Finding faith healers or other medical quacks is also high on the list of “first bloods.”

 

In the local news the evolution “warning” stickers for high school biology books were shot down by the senate. It’s a good day when you find something too illogical for Mississippi. I found out that the lobbying group that pushed them is right down the street from me – right between me and the bar where we hold the meetings, no less!

 

Some in the group had expressed skepticism (that’s what we do) over the amount of real science that the Obama administration would support. Two bits of good news for you guys: Stem cells are back. The science advisor is back. We’ll see what money for research comes up in the mega-bill, and we’ll see if Mississippi refuses to take it.

 

So all in all an excellent meeting. We’ve learned what you’re all knowledgeable of, and I now know that I’ve got plenty of skeptical minions.

 

Get to work, minions!

-Sultan of Skeptics

Patrick Jerome

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13 responses to “Meeting Notes from 10/03

  1. http://www.newsweek.com/id/188198

    Christians of my age group want to distance themselves from the politicization of Christianity (especially by the hardcore right) by calling themselves “followers of Jesus”…as exemplified by Facebook data.

  2. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Thanks for being the first ever commenter.

    I found this quote especially amusing from the “Atheist nod” news bit.

    Not so, Jackson says: “Obviously, Jewish heritage is very much a part of Christianity; the Jewish Bible is part of our Bible. But Hindu, Muslim, and nonbelievers? I don’t think so. We are not a Muslim nation or a nonbelieving nation.”’

    It’s funny because Muslims have the same damn god.

    I think the “nod” may have been a bit overblown – it is the suggestion that a nation founded by deists (that meant something different back then) suddenly NOW can suggest that atheists might possibly have a place in society.

    But we skeptics know who is the news.

    As for the “Christians” vs. “Followers of Jesus” I mean come on. What the fuck does “Christian” mean if not “Follower of Jesus.” It’s like saying I’m no longer a “Scientologist” I’m just “Someone who believes what L. Ron Hubbard says.”

    Not to talk smack about you for bringing the articles in aump (that is not the intention) but the quality of Newsweek (to say nothing of AOL) is pretty much equivalent to Highlights for Children or High Times these days.

    Here’s a great quote from them: “You can wear it abroad, in Islamic countries, or at home with your Jewish or Buddhist friends, without causing offense.” I dare you to try that.

    I think I see a blog entry coming on. Thanks Aump.

  3. Stem cells are back? We’ve already had stem cell research. Adult stem cells have made much progress and it is embarrassing those who are pushing the morally challenging issue of embryonic stem cells.

  4. jacksonskepticalsociety

    What exactly is the moral challenge? You have millions of embryos in fertility clinics across the nation. They will be THROWN AWAY – literally, actually, down the drain – if they are not implanted. And they won’t be.

    So you can use them for research to maybe save or improve lives. Or you can flush them down the drain because some “pro-lifer” who thinks that life begins at fertilization is happier with destroying that life than he is with making it mean SOMETHING.

    The creation of embryos for research purposes is still illegal in the United States. The stem cell debate is NOT a debate about one-day children, these are frozen embryos in a fertility clinic that the parents will not use.

    If destroying these embryos for no reason is somehow more acceptable to you than using them for the benefit of mankind, then you should challenge your own morality.

  5. First, it is a false choice to say the embryos will be used for research(killed in research procedures) or thrown away.

    -“Those are not the only choices. Human embryos that are no longer wanted by the family can also be placed for adoption. Organizations like Snowflakes have been helping couples through embryo adoption for years now. President Bush has even flown several of these families to the White House to stand behind him when talking about the issue, pointing to the babies, and remarking that “these boys and girls are not spare parts.”

    Families would have to consent to having the embryos adopted, and I think many families would make this choice if told about the possibility. Many view adoption as a much better option than donating living embryos to be killed for research that can be done without killing anybody.”
    * from http://tinyurl.com/c7w9bb

    Secondly, you are ignoring the fact that IF the human embryos are used THEN we should not use them for their parts. Any embryonic science textbooks will tell you that they are human at the embryo stage. I love science to much to be for this. My opponents are ignoring this science.

    Those who are wanting to use these human embryos are using emotional appeals, leading people to think that by destroying them will lead to a cure that they see right over the horizon. This is emotional terrorism in my opinion. Besides, the uncontested adult stem cells have promising results.

    Finally, just from a policy standpoint, the Bush policy which was reversed by the current administration did not ban tax dollars from research of stem cells. President Bush’s stem cell policy did not restrict tax dollars for stem cell research. It restricted tax dollars to be used to kill more human embryos. It allowed tax dollars to be spent on research using the embryonic stem cell lines that had already been created, as well as funding research with adult stem cells.

  6. How do I adopt an embryo? I want one! I’ve even cleaned out a little spot in my freezer for my very own embryo.

  7. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you may nations…then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.” Deuteronomy 7:1-2,

    “…do not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy them…as the Lord your God has commanded you…” Deuteronomy 20:16

    Joshua 6:21-27
    21And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

    I guess god is a selective abortionist.

  8. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Of course someone else has expressed a few facts on this better than I have.

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2009/03/adult_stem_cell_lies_-_everyth.php

  9. Brad, I will let you hold to those scriptures if you will also hold to the rest of the scriptures/get saved. Of course, when you get saved the Holy Spirit can correct your interpretation.

  10. Justin,
    That was the worst cop-out ever. Is that all you can say? I don’t get it because I’m not saved?

    For your information I spent the majority of my life as a dedicated (saved) Christian. I even earned a degree from an evangelical Bible college in Biblical Studies. I was preparing for Seminary when I came to terms with my own atheism.

    I think I have a pretty good grasp on the scriptures. In fact, I would bet my next paycheck that my knowledge of the scriptures is vastly greater than yours.

  11. Brad, it would seem that you missed Heaven by 18 inches. You have a head knowledge of the Bible, but is hasn’t made its way down to penetrate your heart.

    When you maintain that you were once a Christian, but came to your senses, then you are saying that you once knew the Lord because John 17:3 says “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”. “Did you know the Lord?” If you say”I thought I did!” then my reply would be if you don’t know so, then you probably didn’t. If you say you didn’t know the Lord, then therefore you never were a Christian (1 John 5:11–13,20). The Bible speaks of false conversion, in which a “stony ground” hearer receives the Word with joy and gladness. Then, after a time he falls away.

  12. Spare me the sermon. I’ve heard it many times before.

    Forget about 18 inches and penetration for a moment – how about addressing the issue here…

    How do you so vehemently oppose abortion when your own imaginary god has such a murderous past (and future, according to your scriptures)?

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