Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Equity and Thinking at the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Science Supporters,

It’s been a few weeks since I took to the keyboard for the SciSchmooze.  It has been a terrible time in many ways. I don’t want to list all of the topics and items that I could write about as many are so important and expansive that I am simply not able to make that much of a contribution.  Right up front let me say that the murder of George Floyd seems to have triggered a long delayed national discussion about the underlying current of racism and its’ effect in every neighborhood in this country.  I hope that everyone whether they have actively protested or not, stop and reflect on what some of the best of our society stands for and does.  Equally important is that we must reflect on the problems that exist where we don’t see them.  We really need to acknowledge this and I believe we all need to stand up when we see something that is wrong and shine light on it.  Whatever you think of the phrase “Black Lives Matter”, understand that they do.  Black lives are an important indicator of how we all work together and care for each other in this society. 

To the point of equity I hope that I live long enough to see a report about somebody in science, or pretty much anywhere, that is notable because of what the person did and not because they were the first (gender, skin color, ethnic group) to do it.  I long for the day when a woman can land on the moon and it will be because she is there with a crew of people.  We really don’t speak about a woman working on the space station; it’s just not that big of a deal now.  Was it really such a big deal that two women did a spacewalk together, other than they didn’t have enough suits that fit!  These days ideas like gender-fluidity make “categorizing or classifying” anybody more difficult.  Maybe we shouldn’t try to do that.  Here’s a great lecture given by Genie Scott back in 2017, Science and Pseudoscience of Race

I have mentioned before but I need to stress it now.  The consequences of our economic shutdown due to Covid-19 are easily seen in the news and I’m sure with some of your family and friends.  Let me just say, probably not the last time, please support our cultural institutions, especially science museums.  The numbers aren’t really getting the attention they should.  For instance just between the explOratorium and California Academy of Sciences over 300 people have been laid off and they will remain closed for months to come.  They and similar institutions are investments in the future as they inspire our future scientists, engineers, environmentalists as well as us and our families.  They need our help now.  Break for warm fuzzy… San Francisco’s most beautiful yoga class

As was predicted by many scientists, Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.  As people are struggling with all of the consequences of being laid off, furloughed, working from home, or still working at a real risk of contracting it, our language seems to be evolving as well.  We are all left to make some important decisions that seem apply to us individually. However, sometimes the best protection is not for me to shield but for you to be proactiveHow do you decide who to listen to?  Which Experts Should You Listen to during the Pandemic? It will be interesting to see how the development and acceptance of a vaccine will develop. Please check out these references,  An Ethical Path to a Covid Vaccine, COVID Conversations, and Why False Claims About COVID-19 Refuse to Die 

It’s hard to think that only 6 months or so ago it wasn’t covid it was the planet.  Here’s an interesting article, Half the Earth relatively intact from global human influence.  We must not forget this challenge.  In spite of everything else the Western states are entering an active wildfire season. Please be safe when you are escaping home and work this summer. 

Under normal conditions I’d select a few presentations that I think would stand out in their topic and be good for an audience with a particular interest.  Instead I’m going to leave the entire week to you to choose from since you don’t have to go somewhere to see the presentation.  I hope that you will take this opportunity to check out some of the talks that you wouldn’t consider going to because it just didn’t seem that interesting.
Of course there is a lot more to write about here!  I’m just going to send you to places far more worth reading about than reading me.

Have you tried some new recipes in the kitchen?
So You Can’t Go to the Museum. But You Can Bring the Museum to You
There is so much to see in the world.  The hidden signs that can reveal a fake photo

Plan your future adventures now.
herb masters

“Since biological change occurs slowly and cultural changes occur in every generation, it is futile to try to explain the fleeting phenomena of culture by a racial constant. We can often explain them—in terms of contact with other peoples, of individual genius, of geography—but not by racial differences.”  — Robert H. Lowie, Austrian-American anthropologist

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