Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello to all who think science is one of the best tools we have to understand, save, enhance the quality of life, and help improve this for every person of every color, religious belief, and geographic starting point.  I really didn’t expect much change since I last wrote the SciSchmooze.  Willful covidnorance is still rampant.  I’m sure you have read, heard, and seen plenty of Covid-19 articles of doom and gloom as well as hopeful ones.  I’m not going to go on about it here, but at the end of this missive I will add a few links that I think are worth taking a look at and are a bit removed from the common media articles.

This week I have been pondering something a bit different than usual.  I think and I hope you at least mostly agree that science is the best tool we have for answering questions and solving problems.  However we are in an age where science is leading to so many technologies that people with skill can fool us. In a movie theatre (remember those?) we could watch a movie and suspend belief or doubt and enjoy being fooled into believing that a space ship could stop and turn without much effort.  No matter that one of the many challenging things about going to another gravitational body is slowing down to be able to land on it, much less stop in space and go another direction.  I encourage you to watch this first: “In the Event of Moon Disaster”.  Recently NPR had an article about it that will resonate with many of us.  Even though we all know (except maybe for the moon landing deniers) the real story, I was stunned by it.  Keep in mind that the speech was actually written and this is it. 

These days creating highly believable fake information is becoming pretty easy to produce and spread through our culture.  We are constantly confronted with accidentally false or deliberately false information.  The challenge is to figure out how to detect it, recognize it, and “inoculate” ourselves and the rest of society to do this as well.  Once it hits the web it can spread like wildfire.  The “Denial of Science”  is, in my opinion one of the greatest threats we are facing because it allows so many “alternate facts” to go unchecked.  Ok, I couldn’t do it, I have to add a covid link here:  Why False Claims About COVID-19 Refuse to Die 

Normally during the summer months our list of opportunities is a bit short.  I suspect that the low number of events is even more notable because of Covid-19.  For me it seems like there are more that I hope to catch than in the past but memory isn’t always the best documentarian.  I’m not going recommend any one presentation as they all look great and there are few conflicts between different presenting groups.  I trust you to make great decisions about what to watch.  I’d like to suggest one though.  You may have missed the comet a few weeks ago but you shouldn’t miss the Perseid showers this week!  The peak should be during the early morning of 8.2.

I have a special request for you.  If you know of some resources for helping parents distant learn with their kids at home, please send them our way.  I’m going to highlight a few next week.  You can send them to

So with no actual recommendations I have a couple of fun and or interesting items before I go covid on you! 
A lot of zooming and hangouting is going on these days.  With international organizations having presence in many countries and people working from homes knowing what time or even day it is there can be a challenge sometimes.  I think this is an interesting discussion…  Complexity of time zones

Sometimes applied science might not be applied the way we think best…  EDIBLE MINI BIG MAC MENU FROM POWDER!! 
What about Pastafarianism resonates with you?  What about the price of pizza?
The epic battle against coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories 
Novel coronavirus mistakes and myths   
Two Decades of Pandemic War Games Failed 
No Touch, No Hands-On Learning, for Now, as Museums Try to Reopen 
Remember a few months ago when all of this was starting

Have a great week learning new stuff.  Be patient with everyone, we’re all feeling a bit stressed as we come to realize this isn’t going away any time soon.

herb masters

Some things just take a bit of time to work.

‘You may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.’  Douglas Adams

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