Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

SciSchmoozing into 2019

by David Almandsmith

Greetings Schmoozer Reader,
The mere fact you are reading the SciSchmooze suggests you are a very well-informed person. Consequently, you know that it is good for society – and life in general – when all of us are better informed. ¿Does this imply you have an obligation to society and yourself to help educate? Well, perhaps not an ‘obligation’ but certainly an ‘incentive.’ However, educating is not so straight-forward as it may first seem (and many of us – I for one – lack the temperament to be a good educator). Blaise Pascal (French mathematician 1623-1662) wrote of his process for ‘changing’ a person’s mind. The Internet is chock-full of similar advice, e.g. this page. Herb Masters in a previous SciSchmooze gave a link to a brilliant discussion between Chris Hayes and David Roberts. They identified multiple ways of ‘knowing’ and agreed that people in one ‘tribe’ tend to see those in another ‘tribe’ as not simply wrong, but burdened with a deficient way of knowing – an inferior epistemology. For example, many of my relatives put little value in critical thinking since ‘truth’ is revealed in other ways. As I said, educating is not so straight-forward.
I expected that not much would be on the calendar for this week but I was wrong. Here are my picks:

And – if you are up for it – an opportunity to do some volunteer work on trail maintenance in Marin County: Trail Maintenance in Bill Williams Canyon. You must register for this event and there are age limits. Check it out.
¿What would be the environmental, agricultural, and human costs of ignoring MATS – Mercury and Air Toxic Standards – for power plants in the United States? The previous Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate was $36 billion to $89 billion. The current EPA’s estimate is $4 million to $6 million. Folks, that’s 6,000 to 22,000 times lower than the previous estimate. Consequently, the EPA has proclaimed that those standards are no longer “appropriate and necessary.” Fortunately, the power industry has already complied with those standards, MATS, and it would be costly to dismantle the infrastructure that removes those toxins. Whew!
Enjoy the New Year’s celebrations (and avoid the pitfalls). Once again my New Year’s resolution will be to strengthen my impulse control and measure my activities against those of the people I most admire. ¿Curious as to what is the most common resolution (by one survey)? Make more friends! Hey, just attend one or more of the week’s events or an informal gathering (like Café Inquiry) and you are likely to meet some compatible folk.
David Almandsmith
Bay Area Skeptics board member

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