Adventures in Ethics and Science


Welcome to the meeting of the 43rd Skeptics’ Circle! Good logic and critical thinking never hurt anyone, but bad logic, gullibility, and uncritical acceptance of questionable claims causes distress to small, furry animals. I’m not kidding! As proof, please consider the above picture (provided to me by Fern).

Can you bear to live in a world where this cute puppy is sad? Wouldn’t you rather make the puppy happy? Me, too.

UPDATE: I’m not going to say the dog ate my homework, but this morning I found a half dozen (lightly chewed) posts that should have gone into the carnival last night. I suppose I’m in the doghouse now.

Doggone Deceptive Advertising:

From Daylight Atheism, we learn of miracle cures offered at Madison Square Garden!! If doctors did this, there would be some truth-in-advertising hell to pay, wouldn’t there? So why do televangelists get a free pass? (Were any living-impaired people raised from the dead as promised?)

But Lord Runolfr at The Saga of Runolfr notes a court ruling that purveyors of arthritis relief baubles can be nailed for false advertising. (No word yet whether selling placebos as placebos is legal.)

Orac at Respectful Insolence reviews the Breathatarian diet.

Bronze Dog at Rockstars’ Ramblings sits through — and recaps — a Sylvia Browne appearance on the Montel Williams show. Talk about taking one for the team!

Sick Puppy Health Advice:

EoR at The Second Sight takes a critical look at the claims being made by a company selling a probiotic asthma remedy. What could it mean when your “evidence” is thin and your marketing claims ratchet downward?

Kevin Leitch at Left Brain/Right Brain looks at the Generation Rescue-recommended treatment regimen for autism (and notices lots of claims without much in the way of accompanying evidence). Good at swallowing pills (and unsupported claims)?

JeanneE at Metaphoria shares an all-natural fable.

And, Bryan Gillis at Infophilia takes another crack at chiropractors — and finds some good ones.

Flea-Bitten Logic:

Tara C. Smith at Aetiology looks at how AIDS denialists (and creationists) lean on bad statistics. (But who’s counting?)

Butterflies and Wheels reports that Rupert Sheldrake conducts telephone surveys and presents us with the opportunity to reflect upon implausibility and improbability.

Skeptico gives a careful diagnosis of AIDS denialist fallacies (including labeling as fallacies things that aren’t fallacies).

Akusai at Action Skeptics shares his favorite fallacy:

[A]d hominem is awesome. An insult is a completely neutral piece of information, logically speaking. However, an insult is also fun and, it might be said, sometimes necessary.

Meanwhile, Bronze Dog at Rockstars’ Ramblings explains why being called a meany doesn’t do much to rebut your argument.

And, Barry Leiba at Staring At Empty Pages considers how well one strategy for arguing against use of surplus embryos in stem cell research holds up if we try to extend it.

Critical Thinking that’s Good with the Kids:

Mark at The Calladus Blog finds out what the DriMark Counterfeit Money Detector Pen will, and will not, detect — and includes an awesome photo of his evaporative rotary oscillator.

Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock gives some evidence-based ammunition to teenagers skeptical of their elders’ claims that they ought to be getting their lazy butts out of bed and delivering paper, chopping firewood, and so forth before getting on the school bus.

And, Matt at Pooflingers Anonymous takes us skiing down an apparently slippery slope with parents arguing for “balanced treatment” of the question of the origins of life in the schools:

… now that they’ve made evolution into abiogenesis, abiogenesis into part of atheism and atheism into a religion, all that’s left is to stir briskly for a couple of seconds and viola, we have a constitutional reason to teach religion in science class.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

Isn’t Pluto a Dog?

See You At Enceledaus notes that Pluto’s demotion was hard on the astrologers, too.

Skeptical Bird-Dog:

Tom Nelson at Ivory-bill Skeptic raises concerns about Ivory-bill claims coming out of Cornell University. Is this evidence for lies? Self-deception? Unclarity about the data and the methodology?


Martin Rundkvist at Salto sobrius considers why a postmodernist should be growling at skeptics: “Thou Shalt Not Tell Anyone That They Are Wrong.”

Dogs of War:

A story from Neural Gourmet: “In which we learn that the big secret behind a swastika on a Navy base in San Diego is… what the explanation usually is when the government is involved — snafu!”

Obedience School:

Francois Tremblay at Check Your Premises wonders whether Alcoholics Anonymous might be the enemy of individualism rather than addictions.

Meanwhile, Chris Hallquist at the Uncredible Hallq and Carl Feagan at Hot Cup of Joe both take note of the psychological literature on attempts to “convert” homosexuals.

And, Stuart Coleman at Daily Irreverence argues that scientists are well-trained not to be dogmatic.

A Dog Who Comes When Called:

Lord Runolfr at The Saga of Runolfr considers what you should do if cell phone is lost or stolen: be skeptical of what the chain letter tells you to do.

Speaking of chain letters, See You at Enceladus notes that many now come with Powerpoint presentations, the better to convince you with those bulleted lists.

* * * * *

Hey, doesn’t the puppy look a little happier? Until the next meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle (September 28 at Salto sobrius) it’s up to you to fight bad logic and keep his cute little tail wagging.


  1. #1 Joe
    September 14, 2006

    I am afraid Infophilia presents a credulous, and wrong, appraisal of chiropractic.

    September 14, 2006

    What I find most amusing about “skeptics” is the ARBITRARINESS of their “skepticism”.

    I.E., they are skeptical when they feel like it.

    Or, you might say, they are quite adept at applying the double standard.

    For example, take some of the FUNDAMENTALIST ATHEISTS who post regularly over at Kansas Citizens for Science and Red State Rabble; they can be just as fanatical as any RIGHT WING Fundamentalist.

    They love to ridicule even the discussion of the concept of intelligent design, while they would have us believe that the rational thing is to believe that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself are the result of mindless processess…and that to even suggest otherwise is, well, irrational and promoting a “God of the gaps.”

    No, its more like opposing the cult of the gullible.

  3. #3 dirigible
    September 15, 2006

    I.E., they are skeptical when they feel like it.

    Science is self-skeptical. That is how it advances. If you could disprove evolution that would advance science. But evolution has survived over a century of scientific skepticism.

    They love to ridicule even the discussion of the concept of intelligent design

    So do many devoutly religious individuals who believe it denigrates the Creator and is a willful untruth. Are they wrong as well?

    while they would have us believe that the rational thing is to believe that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself are the result of mindless processess

    They would not have you “believe” anything. They would have you consider the evidence with an open mind and accept it if it is true.

  4. #4 IAN B GIBSON
    September 15, 2006

    Nice comment. I must admit that I tend to take people much more SERIOUSLY when they type their MAIN POINTS in UPPER CASE – it reinforces their argument considerably whilst not looking at all childish.

    P.S. If mind comes from mind, where did the mind that the mind comes from come from?

    Oh, and if intelligent design is true, how do you explain PYGMIES & DWARFS?

  5. #5 hoebie
    September 15, 2006

    uh…Check Your Premises does more than “wonder” about AA. He makes a full on, no-holds barred indictment of it as a cult. He also seems to be speaking from hearsay and has never actually been to an AA meeting. Oh, and he doesn’t allow people to make comments on his blog without pre-approval. Nice. As an atheist, individualist and an AA, I’d like it if maybe fucktard over there can explain how I exist.

  6. #6 Francois Tremblay
    September 15, 2006

    “As an atheist, individualist and an AA, I’d like it if maybe fucktard over there can explain how I exist.”

    Bad genetics?

  7. #7 tng
    September 16, 2006

    Thanks for the inclusion in this [em]massive[/em] edition of The Skeptics’ Circle.

  8. #8 Cheyenne Gatlin
    August 22, 2007

    I LOVE PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!

  9. #9 jamie
    August 29, 2007

    hi i love your dog pictures they are sooooo cute…..

  10. #10 princess jasmin
    September 1, 2007

    hi!!!!!!! puppy

  11. #11 avery
    September 13, 2007


  12. #12 mark
    September 20, 2007

    OMG I LUV PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. #13 puppy killer
    September 20, 2007

    i just hate puppies i dont know why they even exist they are so filty and full of hair they just disgust me especially this one!!!! and yes i HATE puppies!!!!!!!

  14. #14 jiju
    October 5, 2007

    hi jiju…………….

    this is for u

  15. #15 Sharree
    October 6, 2007

    that is cutie

  16. #16 anju
    October 8, 2007

    poda pattiii…..

  17. #17 chloe
    December 3, 2007

    awww so cute where can you get one of these pups

  18. #18 yanet
    December 27, 2007

    this is cool

  19. #19 annerbannaner
    January 7, 2008

    that is soooo cute

  20. #20 Nick Buick
    January 15, 2008

    Don’t despair that humanity is comprised of 90% morons incapable of rational thought. Take heart that you’re in the 10% – then exploit the shit out of the remainder and get paid. Never – ever – ever give a sucker an even brake.

  21. #21 chanel
    February 13, 2008


  22. #22 haritha
    February 25, 2008

    i love puppies

  23. #23 victoria
    February 29, 2008


  24. #24 butch
    March 11, 2008

    what kind of dog is that?

  25. #25 darshini
    March 20, 2008

    i luv u da sweety

  26. #26 armstrong
    April 24, 2008

    good lovely puppy for sale

  27. #27 hamish
    July 17, 2008

    how cute is it

  28. #28 Dua Vang
    July 29, 2008

    That puppy is so cute!! I had a chihuahua but I couldn’t keep it anymore cause the manager wouldn’t let us keep it any more! I have my dog, Bella to my sisters co-worker’s family friend! I miss her very much!!

  29. #29 sham
    August 21, 2008

    oh…so cute!i love it

  30. #30 sham
    August 21, 2008

    oh sooooo cute…i want him

  31. #31 DB
    August 6, 2009

    Ok cute puppy…
    it does nothing for your site. you site promotes logic. The ‘gulability makes puppy sad’ thing is completely not logical… Unless this is your attempt at satyr or something.

    No hate, just pointing out

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