Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

A Hole Lot of SciSchmooze 4.15.19

by Herb Masters

Hello Science and or Spring Fans,

What a crazy time we are in for science in the news.  Let’s get the basics out of the way first.  I’m sure you have heard about and probably seen the photo of the supermassive black hole at the center of M87.  There’s an incredible amount of references to it in the news.  Needless to say it’s hard to get a handle on what this is all about from the general news.  I have found a few links that might help you explain it to others as well as get a bit better handle on it yourself.  Take a look at these…  How to Understand the Image of a Black Hole then First Image of a Black Hole! and THAT Black Hole picture   Here’s a nice article about how we got to this point…  Observing the invisible:  and one last one…  The science of the EHT

Do you think we need to encourage our youth to think critically about science?  The folks who are responsible for SkeptiCal 2019 sure do.  SkeptiCal 2019 is offering 5 scholarships to young, inquiring skeptics!   If you missed the deep discount early registration, the speakers are being listed as they are finalized now.  You still have time to register at a discount

There is so much “incorrect”, “bad”, “crazy”, or just plain wrong info floating around it is hard to figure out why this is, how to recognize it, or how to fight it.  Fortunately there are some excellent resources out there that help us understand.  Consider the reptile people.  I think we really need to be aware of how information is misrepresented, misinterpreted, misused, and sometimes used without our understanding.  Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm  I have been curious about how we succumb to any or all of those.  Of course there is a wealth of info out on the web as well as TV, friends, and at the library!  (Not to mention the checkout line at the store!)  I have come across a few really interesting items in the last few months that have inspired me to look with a new perspective.  I’d like to share some of them with you here.  I recently saw Aza Raskin give a version of this talk.  How to Create Human Protective Technology  I haven’t been able to verify some of his statistics but I think we all need to take a deep breath and wonder how we might be being manipulated…  (Snapchat dysmorphia?)  Here’s another one…  DNA Friend 

We all make decisions about whom and what we trust.  Do We Still Trust Scientific Experts?  Certainly the results of scientific research have a great influence on us individually and as a society.    There is some discussion going on about how the results of research should be validated or interpreted that requires some effort to understand if you never got comfortable with statistics…  800 scientists say it’s time to abandon “statistical significance”

It’s all but impossible to choose!  There are so many great sounding lectures this week (136 for the next two weeks!), recommending seems futile!  But let me help try…

  1. Richer than Gold: Biodiversity vs Industrial Mining  Tue 7:30 Berkeley
  2. After Dark: Cannabis   Thu 6:00 San Francisco
  3. The Story of California’s Changing Ecosystems: As Observed from Space  Thu 7:00 Menlo Park

And now for something lighter and different… 
The Day the Dinosaurs Died
Bottled Superstition: Then and Now
How To Waste Time Properly
A raccoon of my own

Have a great week learning something new, but celebrate science as well.  (Don’t be fooled by your DNAFriend!)
Peace and Pedals
herbert a. masters III
ScienceSchmoozer and a shameless promoter of:
the SciSchmooze email list: 
 “If the semi-diameter of a sphere of the same density as the Sun were to exceed that of the Sun in the proportion of 500 to 1, a body falling from an infinite height towards it would have acquired at its surface greater velocity than that of light, and consequently..all light emitted from such a body would be made to return towards it by its own proper gravity.”  John Michell (1724–1793)

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