Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of Herb Masters

Greetings Science and Reason Fans,

Let’s start this out by welcoming Chabot Space & Science Center back and cheering the new collaboration they have with NASA, STUDIO 1: THE NASA EXPERIENCE. They have been closed since the start of the covid shutdowns and I think are one of the last to reopen. They are doing it right though and during an auspicious time. This week seems to be moon week. Chabot will be hosting a PENUMBRAL ECLIPSE VIRTUAL WATCH PARTY that you would probably like to watch if the sky above you isn’t clear. If the sky is clear then wrap up in something warm and step outside to watch An Almost Total Eclipse of the Moon, Nov. 18-19! Before all of that I can’t impress on you enough how happy you will be if you first go to see the Museum of the Moon at the opening night of Glow starting at 6:00 that very same evening! Be sure to head up to Chabot as soon as you can, I have heard great things and am looking forward to making it up there myself. May I suggest a bit of reading about the dark sky as well? Dark Sky Magic

I have talked before that Science is what we humans have done for hundreds of years (many would say much longer) trying to understand how and why things are the way they are, and how we can do better. Out of all of the work of scientists standing on the shoulder of scientists and curious people that went before them has come what we call the scientific method. I must say that I am concerned and disheartened by what seems to be a rising tide of science and fact denialism. Rather than try and summarize and interpret I’m just going to add a few links here for you to consider. The reason for this is that we all have friends and family that are dear to us but may not understand things the way you or I do, and think they might be better off if they did. Since we may be seeing more of them, I think it is important to try and understand why they believe what and the way they do. When we talk to those that may not see things the way we do it is important to be kind, and respectful, though that can be tough sometimes. Note: There is risk in this. You, I’m sure, know the obvious risks but one you may not think about is that they may change your mind!

Why–and When–Did the United States Turn Against Science?
Science vs science: is modern science broken?
The Uselessness of Useful Knowledge
Epistemic Responsibility
Carl Sagan Predicts the Decline of America: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, Without Noticing, Back into Superstition & Darkness” (1995)

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity is a short essay written by the Italian economist Carlo Cipolla. Originally, it was intentionally distributed only among his friends on a confidential basis. The reason is simple. That book was intended as a sort of joke…” or another version says THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY

I do want to suggest that bad behavior in the science community does happen as well. Here is an interesting case… Experiment Eleven: an extraordinary case of scientific deceit It’s actions and events like this that do give deniers plausible deniability and we have to acknowledge these as well.

The use of the NON SEQUITUR will be a challenge as long as there are new ways to think about stuff as well!

There are a lot of great opportunities to discover new things this week. Here are a few that I think warrant your consideration and attention.

What must change for things not to stay the same? Mon 4:15
Postcards from Mars: The Latest from the International Armada of Robot Explorers Wed 7:00
Wonderfest – Imagination and Learning Thu 5:30

I know I’m repeating myself some but the SF Bay Area is an amazing place in many ways. One of them is how much science is happening and our opportunity to see what some of the ground breaking discoveries are happening right here. For instance the last virtual tour of SLAC (for the year?) is scheduled for 11.19 and it’s free and if it’s raining you can stay warm and dry at home as well. It is an amazing place and I look forward to when they open the lectures to the public again.

I’m not a sports person but I have received a couple of trophies quite a few years ago. Like so many things, science has really changed the game!!! How Hidden Technology Transformed Bowling

The ability to communicate science is important not just in museums but it also plays a big role in how you and your doctor might get along. This might help you or someone you know get along better with a doctor… Art Inspired This Physician’s “Empathy Project”

Are you a dog person and have you ever thought about the posthuman dog? Recently I have been amazed by the number of pelicans I have seen passing through. They are amazing to watch as they fly in their “V” flight configuration. I was amazed to hear from a friend why one side of the “V” seemed to be longer than the other. After lots of speculation about the efficiency of drafting behind each other and seeing ahead, wondering if it was related to the direction the wind was blowing, he pointed out that there were more of them on one side than the other!-} Pelicans are awesome

Have a great week learning cool new things and pondering how to unlearn some old not so cool things.

herb masters

“If I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers. I can sketch one by one all the aspects it is able to assume, all those likewise that have been attributed to it, this upbringing, this origin, this ardor or these silences, this nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up. This very heart which is mine will forever remain indefinable to me. Between the certainty I have of my existence and the content I try to give to that assurance the gap will never be filled.” Albert Camus

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