The Voynich Manuscript is just as good a story now as when I first read about it 50 years ago. If you're not familiar with it, Wikipedia's article hits the highlights, and its bibliography gives a number of ways to dig deeper.
The Voynich Manuscript was probably written in the early 1400s, probably in Europe, possibly in Northern Italy. Most of it resembles an herbal (though the plants are unrecognizable), plus sections whose pictures suggest astrology and pharmacy, plus lots of naked and clothed women (only the naked ones get mentioned much), and less-understandable illustrations and pure-text pages. The text appears to be written in a cipher, which has tantalized and taunted people since the 1500s. No one has ever cracked it.
Not only is this book truly, deeply weird, so are several of t
Your Beliefs Are Malleable
As some of you may recall, I was recently asked to join the James Randi Educational Foundation's "Education Initiative," whose purpose is to promote teaching of critical thinking and skepticism.
My second article, entitled "Your Beliefs are Malleable," was recently posted. Its topic is cognitive dissonance, and it focuses on how it can be applied to teaching students to evaluate their beliefs in a more rational way.
CLICK HERE to check it out.
Dr. Mehmet Oz's November 28th, 2012 episode is bringing him grief due to its investigation of so-called "Ex-Gay" therapies, techniques designed to help someone change his or her sexual orientation from gay to straight.
On the episode were Julie Hamilton, a representative of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (or NARTH), as well as the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), who said later that they were not aware that NARTH would be represented, and that they would not have participated had they known.
NARTH's claim that individuals can change their sexual orientation was one of the main topics of my recent talk for the Bay Area Skeptics, and the scientific community (The American Psychology Association, the American Psychiatric Association, The National Association of Social Workers, among many others) strongly condemn these practices as ineffective, unsupported by
November’s SkepTalk provided the perfect opportunity to introduce to the Bay Area Skeptics the newest member of the NCSE family, Dr. Minda Berbeco.
As their new Programs and Policy Director, Dr. Berbeco works to defend science education in the United States using experience she has culled from a career investigating the effects of climate change on terrestrial systems. Her investigation of the unexpected and unusual effects of climate change on biological organisms was the focus of her talk this month for the BAS.
Dr. Berbeco began her presentation by surveying the audience about their knowledge of the effects of global climate change. Answers included such things as extreme weather, the endangerment of wildlife, a rise in global sea levels, etc. After pointing out how the audience’s feedback suggested a good working knowledge of the effects of global warming, as well as the disparate areas of concern, Dr. Berbeco announced that she would concentrate her talk on a few specific examples through which she hoped to reveal some of the key concerns s
On Wednesday, October 10th, the Bay Area Skeptics hosted an entertaining and informative one-hour talk by Liza Gross, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes for numerous organizations, including the open-access biomedical journal PLoS Biology where she is a senior editor, KQED's QUEST (for which she recently interviewed our own Eugenie Scott), and several other publications. She writes about wildlife, ecology and evolution, conservation, environmental health, science policy, and many other topics.
Her talk, entitled “Writing about Vaccines When Evidence Doesn't Matter,” examined not only the claims made by people who speak out against the use of vaccines, but also the media’s role in providing them a platform for their sometimes dangerous fringe views.
Ms. Gross’ talk began with a somewhat humorous clip from “When Worlds Collide,” a 1951 science fiction film