Monday, October 19, 2015

The SGU & Exposing PseudoAstronomy

Death. SciFi movies. Giving Proper Credit.

The above were the most interesting topics I heard discussed on my various podcasts this week.

Giovanni Schiaparelli Mars Map with Water!: Wiki
Dr. Stuart Robbins produced quite an intriguing episode of Exposing PseudoAstronomy on when do we know what we know in science and who ought to receive proper attribution for a discovery or inventing something.  The idea for the episode was sparked by the recent N.A.S.A. announcement that liquid water actually flows on Mars, which in turn caused some better known pseudoscientists to cry foul.  The pseudo-scientists claimed they had discovered liquid water on Mars years earlier and while it feels great to be found correct by the powers that be, the discovery is nothing new.  

There is a difference between building the case for liquid water on Mars which N.A.S.A. has been doing for decades, and speculation which is what the pseudoscience crowd was performing for the most part.  Dr. Robbins breaks all this down, and by the end of it, I was a bit miffed that after N.A.S.A.'s hard work in this regard anyone would try to jump in and say me first is inappropriate.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Observe & Report: Skepticism done correctly; Skeptics with a K

Peter of Verona Faith Healing back in the day (Wiki)
On the last two episodes of Skeptics with a K Michael "Marsh" Marshall discussed his interaction with and observations of Peter Popoff and his ministry. The televangelist, alleged faith healer, evangelical christian prophet that had a famous run in and exposure with the recently retired James "The Amazing" Randi.  Well, Popoff is back

On episode 156 of SWaK, Marsh describes his interactions with Popoff's current prosperity gospel ministry via the United States Royal Mail.  Marsh discusses how Popoff's organization would attempt to elicit money and 'plant a seed' of money to obtain a harvest of gain.  It is interesting stuff, but even more interesting was Marsh's rather in-depth discussion of his attending a show of Popoff's that he was given free via this letter postal exchange with Popoff.  This was the content of episode 157.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

JREF steps out of the limelight

If you read this blog you likely already are aware the James Randi Educational Foundation has changed course and is going to take a more low profile approach. You can read it here from the JREF site.  The JREF is going to be a secret Santa or a skeptic's sugar daddy in a manner of speaking. Of note, there is no mention of future The Amazing Meetings or some type of successor to it connected with the JREF.  I have only been to one TAM, but I had hoped to attend another.  I count myself lucky that I at least had the pleasure and the privilege for that one event.

I suspect one or more conferences will step in to fill the void left open with the lack of a TAM.  Maybe something better will come of it, or perhaps not.   I suspect as the years progress skeptics to some extent will be divided by those who went to TAM and those who either did not or became active after TAM ceased.  Those poor non-TAM attendees will likely get sick of "well I remember that one time at TAM" stories.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dr. Stuart Robbins on Dark City

Dr. Stuart Robbins appeared on Art Bell's Digital Network as a guest on Dark City, a show hosted by Steve Warner.  I thought about placing in the title 'Robbins appears on Art Bell digital radio network  Show" to gain hits and as a laugh, but decided that would be uncouth.

I have never listened to Warner's show.  Actually, after listening to a few episodes after Bell's return to the airwaves on satellite radio for a brief period a couple of summers ago, I think I was subconsciously boycotting Bell.  Anyway, I thought Warner was a pretty solid host.  My fears that Warner would be some Alex Tsakiris type were thankfully not met.  Warner, at least on this episode, came across as a reasonable person who had at least done some basic homework and had an appreciation for science with a dose of realism. He was not attacking or trying for any 'gotcha' moments.  

The interview lasted two hours and was fairly wide ranging.  Dr. Robbins discussed how he came to be interested in astronomy, and his particular field of studying impact craters on Mars and other celestial bodies.  Warner asked reasonable questions what Robbins thinks of people who are reading into the latest and earliest round of photographs to come back from Pluto.  Warner was clearly skeptical of such notions.  Even the nature of the current understanding of science and the likelihood of our current models of the universe and physics might be upended was discussed.  In particular what manner of evidence would be necessary to trigger a paradigm shift as when the existence of ether was disproven or Relativity accepted.  The conversation even wandered to how evolution on another planet may or may not track with evolution of life on Earth, and how worthwhile is S.E.T.I.  Also, of note was Dr. Robbins' issues with calling String Theory a “Theory” at all when it seems on its face to have some merit.