Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Cargo Cult Science Schmooze 12.17.18

by Herb Masters

Hello Science Fans,

Most of science is, deep down, based on facts.  Some of the most important disagreements we see and hear relate to what we call facts.  Facts can help us understand and learn about many things.  But it seems that there are always those that deny what most of us think are basic facts.  Consider the roundness of the earth.  Most of us can’t believe anybody would think it is flat.  (Note to NASA:  I’d be glad to say the earth is flat and the moon landing was faked if you would give me a tour of your facilities to prove me wrong!)  I find myself questioning the “cargo cult science” of some of the folks we share the planet with but generally try to be respectful and understand what is going on.  I’m not always successful in this though.  I came across a podcast that I think really explains a lot and I highly recommend it…  The Information Crisis with David Roberts   You may or may not agree with some of the political interpretations but, why some deny climate change, that the earth is flat, or science, it is really good at helping understand them.  Understanding why someone might take such an opposing view is really important in my opinion. 

The Winter Solstice is approaching at the usual rate but it always seems faster than the year before.   With it we will also be able to see King Tides which you might consider a view of what our coasts will look like in the very near future.  King tides are just cool on their own though.  Be sure to join one of the many different events we have listed both this month and in January.  As we approach the end of the year the number of presentations we have to choose from reduces.  The quality, I might point out, remains as high as always.  Here are a few that I think you might enjoy in the next week.

  1. Listening for Change in San Francisco Bay: Lab and Lunch    Wed  noon  San Francisco
  2. taste of science: Human Genome and Travel to MARS!    Wed  7:00 Redwood City
  3. After Dark: Essentials    Thu  7:00  San Francisco

Did you realize that you can search the BayAreaScience calendar?   You should know that I have a distinct love of the explOratorium and I think nobody links science and art the way they do.  Try searching for the explOratorium in our calendar.  You might be surprised and impressed.  After Dark: Essentials this Thu will give you a chance to see how they do it with rarely offered tours of the shop where most of it comes together.  Tell them I sent you!  You might just want to start making your own Curious Contraptions!

In the retrospective mindset, it’s been 60 years since Operation Thor happened at Vandenberg AFB.  A lot has happened since then.  Certainly the difference between a rocket and a missile has become more important!  It is amazing that now we are getting close to being able to send people to Mars, as well as send tourists to space.  There is still lots to be considered before going to Mars though, here’s a discussion of some of the challenges of going to Mars that you might find interesting before you take your next vacation

One more bit of sentiment…  “Baby it’s cold out here.”

Have a great solstice and more!
herb masters

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” — Aldous Huxley 

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself.” —  Richard Feynman

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