Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Schmoozing the Denial with the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Herb Masters

17th century engraving of a woman sitting in a chair being bled by two physicians while a third physician kneels at her side

Hello Evidence Fans,

I’m not sure that I would call this a crossroads in history but I think we are now seeing a convergence of science, reason, “it seems like”, “well they used to”, and “of course it worked, they may have died from it but they don’t have it anymore”. In a bit more than a century we (I say “we” as shorthand for scientists and those that support their incredible accomplishments) have learned that there are more galaxies than the one we live in. (We don’t really know if we can call it ours or are sharing it!) We have learned how to diagnose and treat a disease far more accurately based on more than symptoms. We have we have decoded the language of genes and learned how to do amazing things with this knowledge. We have shaken the anchors of gravity and discovered incredible things in our own solar system. Humans are circling the earth in 90 or so minutes every day when it used to take years. We used to have to go to a building full of books to get an answer to a question that we now get on our phone.

There is a bunch of denial of science going on. I suggest that we don’t need to rely on scientists for some things now. They warned us. The implored us. They fought for us. They have been proven right so many times none of us could count. There are a couple of issues that I would like to use as examples. These may be helpful in getting someone you know to rethink what they think. Let’s start with “climate change”. It was called a few other names in the past few years that just weren’t good choices. Remember Global Warming? The scientists told us it was coming or happening. Many people denied it. It might even have been considered to have a snowball’s chance in congress! Well I don’t think you need a scientist to defend it now. Permafrost is melting, Texas froze, Europe has been drowning, Siberia is on fire as well as parts of Europe and North America, we’re not getting the rain we think we should, and the ice is melting. I am amazed that those that trust their own eyes over science continue to deny these phenomena.

There are two types of science that can help us now. There is the rigorous scientific method or you can turn on the TV, read a newspaper, magazine, or read online. Look at a map of the U.S. depicted in the now popular red and blue. Overlay where the current run of covid-19-D is and you can go with either correlation or causation. What could possibly have caused the decline in flu and the common cold in the last year. Look at what is common among most of the people who are now being hospitalized and dying. It doesn’t take a scientist to recognize that what the scientists have learned and been able to do with vaccines might be the answer. It used to be that a good fleam could cure many things. Thankfully we are past that one (I hope).

Thankfully we seem to be getting past thinking only a portion of any population can do science or deserves credit for it. Consider that story of Jocelyn Bell Burnell which is barely 50 years old. Needless to say many have struggled or been neglected as she has.

But then I guess you have to wonder why we have to deal with flat earthers and stolen elections.

This week as always has a lot of tempting presentations and things to do. May I suggest:

After Dark: Seeing the Unseen Thu 6:00 in person

What To Do About Misinformation (in Four Dimensions) – Livestream Thu 7:30

Afternoon Hike at Pillar Point Bluff Sun 5:30 in person

It’s time we all got out and reengage with the world around us after being cooped up so long learning new and cool stuff (of course we all have!). I have one great option for you that will get you out of the house, neighborhood, town, and possibly county for at least 1 day a month. The Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park is, like all of us, opening up and welcoming people again. Now is a great time to get involved as they are rebuilding their volunteer/docent program and received funding to restore the lighthouse. This is a place where science can be presented as part of so many aspects. Natural history, environment, technology, and physics are just a few of the things you can present about. Contact Jeanée Ryan for more details.

Also to keep in mind is that this week is the week to catch the Perseid meteor shower. Take note that this is from Andrew Fraknoi and tip #1 points out what an excellent place Pigeon Point might be for seeing them. Alex Filippenko also suggests Perseid Meteor Shower 2021: All You Need To Know.  If Alex and Andrew both point the same way you know it’s got to be good!

So many people seem to have trouble finding their way out of the city and in to the world! When you read this consider that I am not a parent!!! Kids set free to roam on their own feel more confident navigating in adulthood. Of course we have all heard that mathematics is the language of science.

Have a great week learning cool things about how it all works and what can be done to help.

Peace, Fins, and Feet

herb masters

Schmoozing for Science for quite awhile

“We have faith in science, but it’s not a religion,” said Herb Masters, a retired firefighter. “It’s a faith in a body of knowledge.” “Seeing Creation and Evolution in Grand Canyon”  New York Times 10.6.2005

Upcoming Events:
Click to see the next two weeks of events in your browser.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *