Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scientific American, Religiosophy


Steve Mirsky and the Crickets

Scientific American has returned after a nearly three week absence.  The show was in fine form.  First was a discussion with Cynthia Graber who covered the MIT Clean Energy Prize, which is a multi-university contest for science/engineer/business students to come up with an invention and viable business plan for a clean energy product.  The winning team gets $200,000.  The one product that just fascinated me was the shock absorber that turns the automobile’s motion into electricity.  It’s one of those ideas that I wish I had thought up, and I am a bit surprised that GM or Toyota has not made something similar for their hybrid cars.  It seems so obvious.  I thought it was odd that the underlying story was covered by “60 Second Science” back in May, ’09.  I am always heartened by such stories of the youth figuring out ways to make the world a bit better.

Then Steve found himself in the wilds of the Bronx listening for Crickets at the Bronx Cricket Crawl for the second story of the episode.  Steve and a bunch of volunteers listened to recordings of various cricket chirps in order to partake in a cricket census of New York City.  Mirsky has a clear interest in various insects and other bugs.  Yet, I found it interesting that it sounded as if Steve was the only male in the group that was in on the cricket census.  Perhaps Mirsky was really there just to pick up chicks since they obviously have a common interest in our bug friends, and he thought to bring his records to write off pickup skills while on the job.  (If Mirsky is married or otherwise encumbered, it is just a joke.)

The Flood

Irreligiosophy take on Noah’s Flood in this week’s episode.  For some reason the flood story has always boggled my mind by how many people can take it on face value.  The entire world was flooded enough to kill everything.  I understand that it might be a good allegory, but it always struck me that here was proof that the bible cannot be literal after all where on Earth (literally) did all it come from and where did it all go, or god can and will do anything.  Then one has to ask why flood the planet, why not kill everyone and start over from scratch?  It just seems dramatic for the sake of being dramatic.  It would seem to me that this story would drive people to non-literal interpretation of the Bible.

Not so.  A few years ago I picked up at a yard sale an evangelical literal bible apologist dime store  paperback that was printed at some point in the 80’s.  “The Bible & Modern Science” – Henry M. Morris. (1968)  I remember reading it, and thinking of the mental gymnastics the author was doing to make the bible fit with science.  The book discusses the vapor canopy which was covered by Chuck and Leighton in this episode.  The book postulated that the entire globe was surrounded by water.  This same water that god had conveniently located above the Earth to drop down on people to wipe us out “just in case” was also the reason why people lived for so much longer in biblical times.  The water canopy protected people from the harmful radiation from the Sun.  Less radiation equals longer living people, so with the canopy rained down on earth and expended means more radiation and shortened life expectancy.  It was brilliant and deluded at the same time.     It sounds just about right if you really do not have much of a science education, since it makes a few miraculous bits of the bible fit together.

Chuck and Leighton sounded as if they had a good old time chopping up the biblical flood story.  I am not sure why they were so fixated on doing a “clean” kid friendly show this week.  Are they going after wider audience?

Finally, I did not realize that iTunes has separate reviews by country.  Canadians cannot read American reviews of a podcast, and Americans cannot read Canadians reviews.  I don’t understand why...after all, we all speak the same language (except for our friends in Quebec.)  Also, all of the Canadians gave the show five stars, which makes me think that I am a real bastard since I only gave them four stars on my review.  Now that I think of it, I only gave the Skeptics Guide four stars.  I am a real hard ass.  I wonder if iTunes will allow me to edit my review?  

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