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This week on Skepticality, Derek has a discussion with noted humanist Nikki Stern on her latest book, Hope in Small Doses. The book is a journey to find the ultimate meaning of “hope” from a secular point of view without the need or requirement for supernatural thinking. Hope has been something that Nikki has thought a lot about since the tragic death of her husband during the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York City.
Show Notes

– Date – August 14, 2012
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– Theme song by Steve Seamans of the Daisy Dillman Band. Get the song HERE.
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Dragon*Con where Derek will be running the Skeptrack is coming in about two weeks. Get your memberships now!

Skepticism, Past and Future

Azaria Chamberlain was taken by a dingo on August 17, 1980 – this was confirmed in an inquest resolved on June 12.
– The first Skepticamp was held in Denver on August 4, 2007.
– Reed Esau recently looked back on the Top 10 Skepticamp FAILS as a guest post on Tim’s blog.
– The first Drinking Skeptically was held in New York on August 29, 2007.
– Andy Lewis of Quackometer has covered the story that German homeopathy manufacturers paid a journalist to smear Edzard Ernst and other skeptics.
– Google has a clearly stated and detailed policy on ads for Healthcare and medicines which disallows “Products that make false or misleading health claims”.
– The 2010 FDA warning which Mike Adams linked to in his article clearly calls OTC chelation products “misleading”.
– Skeptic History facts are posted daily on social media find out where on this page at Tim’s blog.

Unnatural Virtue

“Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them” by Dr. Ray Hyman, retired psychology professor at the University of Oregon, is the classic introduction to subjective validation.
– Ray will be one of the featured speakers at CSICon Nashville, October 25-28.
– The classic text on cold reading is The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland.
– Understanding how subjective validation works is the key to understanding the popularity of psychic readings, palm readings, astrological chart readings, rumpology, and a host of other activities where people seem to know many things about you that you think they must have gotten by paranormal means.
– Psychologist Bertram R. Forer (1914-2000) found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone. We now refer to the Forer effect, i.e., the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.
– Gary Schwartz is considered by some to be the foremost researcher of mediumship today, yet his work has been dismissed by skeptics as amateurish and sloppy.
– A paperback edition of Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! is now available from For more info, click here. The eBook is still available.

The Odds Must Be Crazy

The Odds Must Be Crazy
– This week's featured story is "Coincidence or Conspiracy?"
– Story was submitted by reader, Tamara Rousso.
– Please visit the story link for a more detailed analysis and to add your comments
– Additional thoughts and considerations provided by Barbara Drescher
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– Our producer and audio engineer is Brian Hart
– Our theme music comes to us courtesy of Brian Keith Dalton, AKA Mr. Deity
– Please visit The Independent Investigations Group Los Angeles
– The Odds Must Be Crazy can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
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Nikki Stern – Author of 'Hope In Small Doses'

Nikki Stern is the author of 'Hope In Small Doses'.
– Her first book was 'Because I Say So: The Dangerous Appeal of Moral Authority'.
– She writes a blog on Salon, and has been seen on some television interviews.
– She has work in the Humanist, USA Today, and even The New York Times.
– She was the first Executive Director for the 'Families of September 11 Victims'.
– Hope can mean different things to different people around the world and across time.
Stephen Hawking is a perfect example of a very inspiring and hopeful person.
Interact with others about Hope and what it means to you.

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