Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982


SciSchmooze 13 Dec 2021

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Fans of Science, Reason, and Critical Thinking,

As we move through another holiday worried about who will get sick or infect our friends and family, there are many things to celebrate and to learn about how we got here and where the boundaries of science might be found. Something to think about now is peaking on Monday night. Dr. Filippenko reminded me that the Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of December 13/14 (Monday/Tuesday), and it is visible all night. Good luck with the weather, though you should be able to find a few sites offering real-time viewing on line. In case you miss it, maybe you would like to spend some time with some Forces of Nature.

A couple of weeks ago I was challenged by Kelly to take the Science Schmooze into another very hot and divisive topic. Here at the Schmooze we discuss and share info on topics that might not be “accepted” by everyone who reads it. Sometimes we hear back when someone disagrees. Let’s just say that some don’t warrant a response! I have pondered this and had to learn more myself. You may be pro-choice or anti-choice for a variety of reasons. Science can be used to make arguments for or against this by people on each side. There is good science to be learned on both sides. I hadn’t heard much about the science of abortion but there are many who make false claims about it. I have learned that CPC is not an acronym for many places that cite science, no matter what they say. Being a less-young guy who never went down the father path of life, I really can’t say much about the intensely personal decision a woman may have to make. I have learned one thing reading for this. There is plenty of science that refutes any medical or scientific claim that abortion is dangerous when compared to not having one. I haven’t found any science that says that having a baby is the safest choice. Sadly, often without the other half of the equation, a woman has to make a truly difficult and personal decision by herself. You might argue that it is biology but it does seem that politics is what is interfering not science. What I can say is… How dare anybody prevent her from making this decision and acting on it. Everyone who is directly involved deserves courtesy, respect, and empathy.

Here’s an important story as long as we’re talking about women and science. One of the Most Egregious Ripoffs in the History of Science

This coming week is another quiet one, thanks to christmas coming up. That doesn’t mean there are no cool opportunities to learn. Here are some that I think you might find interesting…

Climate Change, Technology and Innovation: Views from Korea and Japan Tue @ 6:00

Countdown to Launch! New Eyes on the Sky with the James Webb Space Telescope Tue @ 7:00 (interesting back story… Shadowed by controversy, NASA won’t rename its new space telescope)

What the Christmas Bird Count Tells Us About Birds Thur @ 5:00

Science has been misused and misrepresented to make bad decisions. Controversy may inform or cloud what we understand. Some scientists may not have lived up to our expectations of them both in their professional lives and their personal ones. It is important for everyone to be able to recognize when this is happening. So I am offering some links I have seen recently that I couldn’t fit in the regular SciShmooze format. I hope the titles will make you curious! You might want to check some out during our upcoming stormy weather.

Forces of Nature

How to Spot Misinformation Online

Experiment Eleven: an extraordinary case of scientific deceit

How the World’s First Anti-Vax Movement Started with the First Vaccine for Smallpox in 1796, and Spread Fears of People Getting Turned into Half-Cow Babies

Were the Dinosaurs Wiped Out by a Mass Subluxation Event?

When The Law Catches Up To The Science On Opioid Litigation

“Magic dirt”

Vigilante antivax

Warming to Managed Retreat

Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already

You don’t have to worry about covid vaccines being “unnatural” or “synthetic”

How Vaccines Improved Our World In One Graphic

Have a great week learning new science and enjoying the rain.
herb masters

“Listen to the pregnant woman. Value her. She values the life growing inside her. Listen to the pregnant woman, and you cannot help but defend her right to abortion.”—Ayelet Waldman

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