Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Hello Fans of Science, Reason, and Critical Thinking,

I have to say that this edition of the SciSchmooze has been tough for me to get done. There are a few things that have really had me stirred up recently.

Let’s start with a topic that has a very limited time to play out but harkens much for the future, and the need to continue doing it. Have you voted in the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election? If you have, skip the rest of this paragraph. I firmly believe that voting is an obligation that we all need to take on. If you haven’t voted, you should have received your Vote by Mail ballot. You have options even now. Fill it out and mail it. You can take it to a vote center and deliver it or surrender it and vote there. If you didn’t get it you can go to a vote center and vote in person. If you haven’t registered YOU CAN STILL VOTE! Where? Look here. If you are one of the folks that thinks elections are stolen if you lose I refer you to this… Democratic processes in the United States, including elections, rely on complex systems and evolving technologies to operate effectively.

I thought the “dark ages” were pretty much over. I’m not so sure when I see some of the falsehoods, misstatements, and outright lies about the covid-19 pandemic. These days it seems like a large group of citizens has lost understanding and/or faith in science. The benefits we all receive from the practice of good science are taken for granted, go unnoticed or appreciated, and often ignored. It is possible that the pandemic might end!

I’ve tried to keep the political side out of this but you can’t separate a lot of what is going on in science from politics these days, even if it is only funding for a pure raw science research project! Thank you for reading this far. As far as I want to go politically is this… I feel a deep sadness that it is now necessary to legislate what seems obvious with what we know and have to draw upon today. That people share clean air, water, and many benefits of science and technology, but don’t want to do everything that science has to offer, to avoid any association with Covid-19 is truly sad and disturbing. “Mask compliance has become a political issue instead of a health issue despite the evidence. “This is a life-and-death issue. Masks, physical distance and hand-washing are the three things we have to reduce the spread of the virus in the absence of a vaccine”, according to Dr. David Abrams, NYU School of Global Public Health.  Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already

Science used to be based on plain observation and myth. It often had nothing to do with connecting two observations in a testable logical way. Science is based, in part, on figuring out what was believed is wrongScience has limits and it is imperative that we understand something about them. It also has doubt and we need to understand that as well. Good science is really important.

I suggest that there are many things that have been proposed in the last few decades that don’t need any more proof to act on but we can’t seem to do it. You don’t need to be a scientist to decide that since doctors wear masks in the operating room, the incidence of flu decreased in the last year, the distribution of people who are vaccinated is uneven, and you can look at the counties in the country that voted “red” last November have much higher rates of covid infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is probably a good thing to do. “No Shirts, No Shoes, No Masks | NO SERVICE” isn’t really a violation of your rights and should be in every entrance. It just makes sense and coincidentally it also makes nice. If you see a depleted population of your favorite food swimming in the ocean you probably should figure out why and what needs to change. If some idiot goes to congress to throw a snowball he probably isn’t a source you should trust.

May I suggest that we need to pay heed to some major problems that truly don’t take a scientist to recognize and we need to accept science and our best hope to get out of the gathering doom. California is still playing with fire | pollution is almost everywhere | The future of humanity: can we avert disaster? We need to choose our battles and wage them!

There are many opportunities as always this coming week to learn something new and interesting. I really recommend that you choose something that is webcast that you know little or nothing about and give it a try.

Why Some Diseases Only Affect Babies – Livestream is Mon at 12:00
The Genetic Lottery – Livestream is Tue at 11:00
If you know a future scientist you must see Ask the Scientist – Ana Spalding Wed @ 2:30 but wait there’s more! Don’t leave there’s more at 3:30!
Tales from the Stratosphere – Livestream is Wed @ 7:00

Here’s a class that I took last year and can’t recommend enough. Exploring the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy Professor Fraknoi is one of the great astronomy lecturers and a Bay Area treasure. It is a course of 6 lectures (which is why it doesn’t work well on our calendar) and you need to register now before it fills up.

Now to test what you have retained. Please be sure to let us know what you think… Pandemic-era audience survey

Even more ponderables!!! In case of cold fries… | 5 things about Perseverance |You aren’t going to believe some of this(Two versions one NSFW one SF)

Last week, Dave forgot to include his email address for entering the contest to win a diecast Virgin Galactic model. The contest is extended a week. You have until noon Friday to send an email to with an integer between 0 and 1,000.

Have an amazing week learning cool new stuff,
herb masters

“There may be babblers, wholly ignorant of mathematics, who dare to condemn my hypothesis, upon the authority of some part of the Bible twisted to suit their purpose. I value them not, and scorn their unfounded judgement.” Nicholas Copernicus

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that it gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” Isaac Asimov

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