Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of Herb Masters

Greetings Science Acceptors!

I have to say that I’m having a hard time deciding what to write about this weekend.  I’m not sure about you but it has been difficult to avoid doom scrolling.  So let me share a bit of great news for a change.  In a couple of days we will have a new president.  His challenges are many and staggering to think about.  I am really encouraged by many things but this is great…  Finally there will be a Presidential Science Advisor in the Cabinet.  I try not to dwell on or bring it up too much but science and politics are inseparable.  Most of the important decisions a government must make rely at some level on science to inform the decision.  It’s time our governments throughout the country, dare I say world, embrace science and how it makes most things better.  I would suggest that disinformation about science is at the root of most of the biggest challenges we face. 

Another challenge we face is the challenge of believing what we see.  It is pretty well known that we may not see and remember what we see that well.  This gets to be a bigger challenge thanks to some new technology applications.  I think you might want to consider Wonderfest: Cognitive Science of Deepfake Detection this coming Wednesday @ 7:30.   This will be a great way to shelter in place and still celebrate the new president.

It seems like we may actually be on the brink of getting “The Covid” under control and maybe starting to look towards a life that looks something like it did a year ago.  Here’s yet another link that I think is a good general resource.  Coronavirus dashboard   The rolling out of vaccines has been a bit rough but hopefully things will pick up quickly.  In case you missed it last week, please check out After Dark Online: Vaccines.  We are lucky to have so many great resources right in the SF Bay Area.  The need to stand up for science based medicine has never been more important.  I have heard that a lot of medical professionals as well as lay people (and a few readers) are refusing to be vaccinated against covid…  Note to doubters:  Vaccines Are the Safest Medical Procedure We Have. Make Your Wager Wisely

Another bit of the shiny inside of a cloud is that we now can catch a bunch of presentations from all over the planet.  Of course we focus on the wealth of opportunity we have here in the SF Bay Area. 
Wed @ 3:00 brings A Healthy Society Series: Communicating Science (in a Science-Skeptical World) – Livestream 
Thu @ 10:00 brings Vision 2022: Climate & Clean Air Zoomposium #3  
Thu @ 7:00 brings ‘Human Nature’ Film Screening and Conversation: Early Screening Special

In case you missed Aliens in Outer Space you now have a chance to learn more cool astronomy from Professor Andrew Fraknoi while you attend A Mini-course on Black Holes for People over 50.  It starts on Jan 28.  I’m always glad to hear good things going on when one of the worst days in science happened 35 years before.  We need to celebrate science.

A day on Earth is now shorter than 24 hours.  Don’t worry about that though.  There are a lot of astronomical events that are easier to see…  Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2021-2030

As always there are things happening that most of us miss…   Jan 24th Peanut Butter Day and there’s a ton of science behind them.  Going Nuts over NIST’s Standard Reference Peanut Butter (SRM 2387 – Peanut Butter

Many of us procrastinate too much.  Since I’m particularly good at this, I’m happy to remind you that Valentine’s Day is coming.  I suggest that you prepare for it with a bit of Biomeditation.  If that has inspired you, I suggest a bit more research on anglerfish.  In these times of isolation you may feel alone.  Some folks are working on Finding The Most Identical Strangers   (Thanks Sam!)

Just a brief note that I missed mentioning last week.  I started the Science Schmooze sometime in the past, I can’t really say when.  It was a pretty shoddy little project I had started for some friends.  I’m sure that I would have quit a long time ago except for some friends who jumped in to make it a lot better.  I want to thank Leonard Tramiel and Kishore Hari for their behind the scenes support.  Bob Siederer is the one who really took it to where it is now.  He is also the brute force behind the scenes every week maintaining the calendar as well as writing once a month.  I want to make sure that you all know he is the one who makes it all possible.  David Almandsmith and Minu Prabhune round out the team.  When you see a SciSchmooze from any of them be sure to let them know how much they help celebrate science here in the SF Bay Area.  (We actually have subscribers on every continent except Antarctica!)

So now it’s time to go and learn something cool, interesting, or fun.

herb masters

“Our nation has been frayed, if not torn apart. A key component of our repair will be a renewed belief that there is a truth — one based not on ideology or opinion, but on data and science.  “This vaccine is our generation’s call. Let’s answer the call. Let’s get two million fellow Americans off this beach.  Life is so rich” ”   Scott Galloway

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