Schmoozing with New Horizons 6.29.15

Hello again Science fans!

Stop and think for a minute about the age in which we live. Of all the times in human history, can there be one more fascinating than the current? We are about to see something we've never seen before...close up images of Pluto! The closest approach will be on July 14, but images are already coming in showing both Pluto and it's moon Charon. You can see the images, and read about the mission here. Whether you agree with the decision to declassify Pluto as a planet or not, this is an historic event. With the passing of Pluto, the US will become the only nation to explore all of the known planets in our solar system.

The people with the vision to explore far off worlds, in fact those that explore anything scientific, were influenced somehow along the way, probably early in life. Some event or person planted a seed that grew into curiosity and perhaps a life-long purpose. I was once again reminded of these early influences by an email that crossed our virtual desks here at the Schmooze this week. It came from an author and educator named Eric Niderost who teaches at Chabot College in Hayward. He has written a book called "Sonnets and Sunspots; Dr. "Research" Baxter and the Bell Science Films" and provided us an electronic copy to review.

I'm sure many of our readers are too young to remember these films, but I'm not. I was one of the millions who saw them on TV and in school. I specifically remember the first two, "Our Mister Sun" and "Hemo the Magnificent". Using primitive (by today's standards) animation, interviews with experts, and a fatherly figure for a host, these two films told the story of our Sun and the human blood system. "Hemo" made me realize, for the first time, that I was a

Guest Post: Obituary for Wallace Sampson, M.D. March 29, 1930 -- May 25, 2015

By Carol and Ben Baumgartner

Wally SampsonWally Sampson It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our admired and beloved friend, Wallace Ira Sampson, M.D., “Wally”, on May 25, 2015 at Valley Medical Center in San Jose.

New ShelShocked Podcast Airs...

Dear Fellow Skeptics:

I'm happy to announce that I've started a new podcast on science and skepticism called ShelShocked. My co-host for this endeavor is the lovely Amanda Devaus, of the Canberra Skeptics in Australia.

New eBook: Magic in the Classroom from JREF...

Hey, all! The JREF announced yesterday the publication of a new critical thinking resource in the form of "Magic in the Classroom - Using Extraordinary Claims to Teach Critical Thinking," a FREE e-book.JREF eBookJREF eBook

Ohlone Psychology Club Speaker Series Presents - "An Honest Liar - The Amazing Randi Story" screening...

Mark your calendars for Friday, April 3rd, 7pm!Tyler Measom and RandiTyler Measom and Randi

I'm pleased to announce that the Ohlone Psychology Club has arranged a screening of the award-winning documentary, "An Honest Liar" at Ohlone College on Friday, April 3rd, 7pm!

Bay Area Vaccination Issue More Nuanced Than Usually Presented

Here's a good piece on Bay Area vaccination statistics, from this morning's SF Chronicle.Mom & BabyMom & Baby

One of the few articles I've seen that explores the nuances of refusal -- it goes beyond "gee, unvaccinating parents are all ignorant/selfish/health nut/California hippies/[insert pejorative of choice here]".

Operation Bumblebee stings psychic medium Chip Coffey...

One of the most annoying parts of the "world of woo" is people who claim to have psychic powers. Although none has ever actually shown evidence of this ability under strict observation, it's a multi-million dollar business, with some in the field becoming quite prominent. Chip Coffey may not be one of the biggest players, but he's had his 15 minutes of fame with A&E's "Psychic Kids" program and a few other television appearances. Operation Bumblebee (San Jose)Operation Bumblebee (San Jose) A group of us wanted to see whether we could trick him into communicating with dead people who don't actually exist. So after a lot of work and planning, we did just that.

My Magical Weekend With James Randi...

I hope that each person reading this article can, someday, have a weekend like the one I just experienced. It was, as the kids say, epic.An Honest LiarAn Honest Liar

Earlier this month, I got a message from my friend, the filmmaker Tyler Meason, letting me know that he’d be in San Francisco on Sunday, June 15th for the screening of “An Honest Liar,” the documentary he co-created with Justin Weinstein that chronicles the life of world-renowned magician and skeptic, James “The Amazing” Randi. I purchased tickets and said that I would see him there. A few weeks passed, and I got another message from Tyler, this time letting me know that James Randi himself would be attending the screening, and suggesting that I look into asking him to make an appearance for the Bay Area Skeptics.

Acts & Facts & Pacifiers

(Reprinted from the National Center for Science Education.)

Acts & Chelyabinsk meteor. © 2013 Alexandr IvanovChelyabinsk meteor. © 2013 Alexandr IvanovFacts is the monthly publication of the Institute for Creation Research, which equips “believers with evidence of the Bible’s accuracy and authority through scientific research…”

Here at NCSE, we maintain a subscription to Acts & Facts to remain informed of the ICR’s stance on various topics and as a reminder of what we face in defending science education. The May 2014 issue has an article by Dr. Jason Lisle—ICR's Director of Research—that is a case study in avoiding worry and shirking responsibility by donning blinders in adopting a human-centric view of the universe.

"I fear the coming of the Big Stupid"

Jon CarrollJon CarrollJon Carroll understands, promotes, and appreciates science, which we in the Bay Area can be grateful for.

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