Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Skeptic Games

With due credit to the Lay Scientist for setting up the games a month ago, the closing ceremony for the Skeptic Olympics brings together the finest performances of the last two weeks. Like a temporary traffic restriction, usual rules have been suspended for the event.

First up, winner of gold medal in the 100 meters, and unofficially declared the fastest human alive is the awesome Greta Christina. Out of the starting blocks and into my InBox in record time we have "The Problem of Unfishiness: Religion, Science, and Unanswered Questions"

Then we have another big hitter. Winner of a gold medal in baseball is Holfordwatch with a must-read showing how even those nice chiropractors are joining the legal intimidation party instead of answering criticism. Then, like a modern day Jim Thorpe, Holfordwatch switches sports and wins another gold in the softball with thoughts on The Elmhurst Epidemic: classic example of the cultural and scientific clash between CAM and medicine.

Just behind Greta in speed of submission, the second fastest human alive and also picking up a gold in the relay, we have the Evolving Mind reminding us that "You Aren’t What You Eat" lucky that, or else I'd be a banana.

The two hundred meters is another pure event with a long established world record that held an almost mystical spell upon other competitors. But smashing through that ignorance we have a splendid tale of "pareidolia and anthropomorphism" so a well-deserved gold medal to Breaking Spells

Then we move on to the big hairy spinning beast. Gold medal in the hammer throw goes to Hyphoid Logic with the tale of the Bigfoot that wasn't. Not everyone can see it (something about Internet Explorer versions) but Hyphoid Logic also got a gold medal in the rifle event. An easy target but a fine shot with a heady mix of prayer, blasphemy and gas prices.

The high jump is one of the original olympic sports and a very pure event, it is amusing to see who can drop from highest onto those jokers at Answers in Genesis. Winner of the gold medal is the legendary Bing McGhandi at Happy Jihad House of Pancakes who easily cleared the immense white cliffs of Dover.

Next up we have the javelin. As with dismissing the arguments of the anti-vaccination brigade, this is an ancient and honorable sport. Gold medal winner goes to Elvis Sightings with a Queasy Comparison.

For the ultimate all-round athlete we need to look to the decathlon. Winner of the gold medal is the mighty Skeptico with Negative Energy Research showing that we all have supernatural powers. Even you. Yes the professional skeptic is as psychic as the professional psychic.

Fastest across the water, winner of the 50m freestyle swim was Daylight Atheism who simply drove across the pool with Run Your Car on Water. Coming last was this odd chap who thought he could walk across but he sadly drowned in the attempt to prove it.

Gold medal winner of the high dive competition is the unsinkable rubber duck, a fairly obvious dive winner really. Collecting the award is Skelliot who uses his podium position to plug Australian Science Week.

Admittedly based on the judge's subjective opinion, but I'm the subjective judge here, winner of the gymnastic floor event is HumbugOnline looking at the obvious techniques of the self-help-merchants with SHAM Fallacies.

Now a difficult sport, attempted only by the brave few. Taking on Michael Shermer and the Drake Equation in Greco-Roman Wrestling, a sport that is as old as civilisation itself, we have aardvachaelogy, and Martin wins gold with a knockout blow … even skeptic heroes sometimes need to be corrected.

Over at the showjumping arena, men and women compete on a level playing field, as level as the horses allow anyway. Podblack Cat wins easily with a Winter Of Research And Retention, Gender, Sex And Science - a big subject but a big performance.

Cycling is a sport that has a long history of accusations of drug use, so it's appropriate that a doctor should win gold here. PalMD explains why Doctors Aren't Preachers.

Not originally part of the games, but quite possibly my favourite event, we have beach volleyball (sorry, gratuitous link). It's bright and colourful and entertaining, and the Primordial Blog wins gold for due skepticism about the end of the world.

And of course the epitome of the olympics, the big showpiece event, the ultimate test of endurance, that has to be the marathon. The gold medal goes to the expected winner, Orac shows a clean pair of heels to those who claim his writing is funded by "big pharma" with a detailed exposition of when clinical trials are designed by marketing.

That only leaves the closing ceremony. No graphics on this site, so see Cectic for great skeptic entertainment and a few fireworks.

So now, at the end, the torch passes on to the Skeptic Dictionary. He sums up what these games are really about, the common sense in skepticism. This is Ancient Wisdom, where magic meets science. To take part send your next skeptical submission to SC95 at SKEPDIC.COM before 9/11, you know it makes sense.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the work that went into assembling such diverse posts into this digest.

Daggerstab said...

Both of the links to PalMD's blog are broken, you may want to fix them. :)

Rana said...

Sorry PalMD, links fixed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link RNB. It looks like a great reading list to work through.

Anonymous said...

Whoot! Thanks so much! :) Podblack.