Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Chorizo Gate Meets the SciSchmooze

Bless you, Étienne Klein, for bringing levity and wisdom to us last week. Levity came in claiming that his photo of a slice of chorizo was a JWST photo of Proxima Centauri, and the wisdom came in the physicist’s following Tweet: “Well, when it’s time for the aperitif, cognitive biases seem to have a field day… so watch out for them. According to contemporary cosmology, no object of Spanish cold cuts exists anywhere but on Earth.” (Actually it was in French and instead of “cold cuts” he wrote “charcuterie” but i had to look that up, so . . . .)

The real Proxima Centauri is the subject of this excellent 20 minute PBS video.

A real JWST photo of the Cartwheel Galaxy topped Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog last Thursday.

Good news: the Perseids meteor shower will peak this coming Saturday.

Bad news: it will be during a (nearly) full moon (but it’s still a great excuse – if you need one – to bundle up with a partner, an aperitif, and charcuterie on a blanket under the stars).

Not everything falling from space is a meteor, however. Pieces of a SpaceX / ISS mission came streaking down on Australia last week. Nobody and no livestock were hurt, but it was worrisome to local folk.

Something else i learned this week: in addition to the better-known memorials in D.C. – e.g. Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, etc. – there is the Samuel Hahnemann Memorial. That’s right; the father of Homeopathic Medicine has an impressive memorial in our nation’s capital that was unveiled in 1900 with President William McKinley presiding.

And last month during SkeptiCal, i learned that Homeopathic Medicine is an accepted – and reimbursable – treatment modality in Deutschland. Many German physicians have been using homeopathy to treat COVID-19 and roughly half of Germans believe that it works. Schrecklich! In England, Emergency Rooms are called A&E (Accident & Emergency). You may have seen the video that imagines a homeopathic A&E.

Picks of the week:

It’s hard enough for the farmer and the cowman to be friends but now move is afoot for ranchers and buffalo in Oklahoma to be friends. That’s a tall order but there may be numerous benefits, possibly even ameliorating climate change.

I grew up playing with Tinker Toys and my brother’s Erector Set. Now there are oodles more construction toys: Legos, Duplo, Magna-Tiles, K’Nex, etc. Grown-ups, however, get to build things on a much grander scale. Take a look at Detroit’s 2nd Avenue Bridge that was built first and then moved to span I-94. Awesome!

With an ill-advised confidence of “build it and they will come,” some big projects have proven to be too big.

Recognize your cognitive biases, exercise your empathy muscles, have a great week,
Dave Almandsmith, Bay Area Skeptics

“It is an acknowledged fact that we perceive errors in the work of others more readily than in our own.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

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