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Victor Stenger
 Interview: Victor Stenger
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This week on Skepticality, Derek spends a little bit of his time before the start of Dragon*Con in conversation with Victor Stenger, discussing Stenger's latest book, God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion. Based on his experience as a particle physicist, New Atheist Stenger outlines his belief that hard science has much to say about religious claims that scientific and skeptical organizations typically regard as falling outside the empirical scope of science.
Show Notes

– Date – August 28, 2012
– Send your cool ‘SCIENCE!’ shout-outs to
– Theme song by Steve Seamans of the Daisy Dillman Band. Get the song HERE.
– Thank you to everyone who has been purchasing books, Skepticality stuff, or using our Amazon link to help us!

Dragon*Con where Derek will be running Skeptrack is coming in two DAYS! Get the Dragon*Con app!

Skepticism, Past and Future

Azaria Chamberlain
Neil Armstrong was born August 5, 1930 and died August 25, 2012.
Pamela Gay wrote a nice post on his death, and Universe Today collected many others.
– Mythbusters’ Emmy-nominated episode “NASA Moon Landing” first ran August 27, 2008.
Buzz Aldrin punched Bart Sibrel on September 9, 2002.
– Tim’s talk at TAM 2012 was about crowdsourcing and the video was recently posted.
– The NYT recently documented the underground economy in buying and selling positive book reviews on sites like
– A security company documented the selling of fake followers on Twitterin an investigation.- People built an app called Fakers that can be used to out Twitter users with fake followers.
– Skeptic History facts are posted daily on social media find out where on this page at Tim’s blog.

Unnatural Virtue

– The clustering illusion is due to selective thinking based on a counterintuitive but false assumption regarding statistical odds. One of the class examples of the clustering illusion is “The hot hand in basketball: On the misperception of random sequences,” by Thomas Gilovich et al. (1985).
– For more on the clustering illusion and many more cognitive biases see Gilovich’s “How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life” and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.
– Atul Gawande explains “The Cancer-Cluster Myth” in an article in The New Yorker.
Texas-sharpshooter fallacy is another term for the clustering illusion.
The Centers for Disease Control investigated 108 cancer clusters between 1961 and 1990. None could be linked with environmental causes. Some cancer clusters, however, are indicative of an environmental cause. In the 1960s, scientists traced the development of mesothelioma to exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that was used heavily in shipbuilding during World War II and has also been used in manufacturing industrial and consumer products.
– The high incidence of mesothelioma in two villages in Turkey was cause for alarm. Erionite in stones used in building houses was considered the sole cause of mesothelioma among the Turkish villagers. However, later studies found that many of the inhabitants of the villages were genetically predisposed to mesothelioma. Analysis of a six–generation extended pedigree of 526 individuals showed that mesothelioma was transmitted in an “autosomal dominant pattern.” In such a pattern, a child need only receive a gene for mesothelioma susceptibility from one parent to become at risk for the disease. The new study indicated that erionite may still be a cofactor in causing malignant mesothelioma in genetically predisposed individuals.
The Sacramento Bee contributed to a false scare about a cluster of cancers by fingering tungsten in trees as the probable cause.
– 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 stories go by the combined title, “Trio of Traveling Tales
– Stories were submitted by readers, Tracy McFadin, Dave, and R L Fletcher.
– Please visit the story link for a more detailed analysis and to add your comments.
– Additional thoughts and considerations provided by Barbara Drescher
– 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+
– Wendy Hughes is on Twitter
– Jarrett Kaufman is on Twitter
– Barbara Drescher is on Twitter
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Victor Stenger – Author of ‘God and the Folly of Faith’

Victor Stenger is the author of ‘God And The Folly Of Faith‘.
– Victor used to be a professor at the University of Hawaii.
– He now lives in the Boulder, CO area where many scientists live.
Time is kept in Boulder, CO.
– Victor was involved in a Nobel Prize winning science team dealing with Neutrinos.
Atomism was suppressed due to the fact it is inherently Atheistic.
– Scientists would be quite happy to find evidence of God, or the supernatural.
– Quite often major science groups will pander to spiritual believers for political reasons
– The world of Atheism tends to be split between the ‘New Atheists’ and the ‘Old Atheists’.
– We should only be basing policy on issues of scientific findings.
– Chris Moony wrote a book about the dangers of using faith as a policy guide.
– The Intelligent Design movement was a plan to inject Christian ideas into science.
– Contrary to popular ideas we *can* test many religious claims.
Near Death Experience studies have all come up empty when studied scientifically.
– Many of these experiments have been done by believer scientists who have been dismayed at the results.
– People tend to always run to using ‘Quantum’ to explain much of the supernatural.
– Victor has a website at the University of Colorado.
– Come see him in Denver for the American Atheists conference.
– He is also a regular feature writer for the Huffington Post where he blogs often.

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