Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Point of Inquiry, Exposing PseudoAstronomy

A pair of recent listens


Chris Mooney on Point of Inquiry does an interesting interview with Massimo Pigliucci on his new book Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life, which tackles the thorny question on how to view the world with a synthesis of science and philosophy instead of religion and instinct.  

Where ancient Greek philosophers
hung out while thinking 
Prof. Pigliucci opines that the statements by some scientist to the affect that philosophy is dead are incorrect.  Science alone can tell someone what are the facts, but not how to behave or react to those facts.  This is where philosophy comes into play.  

Now I have not read the book, but the interview was rather thought provoking.  Although to some extent Prof. P’s opinion was not a stunningly new insight.  Without getting into the weeds, much of the internal debate within the free thought/rationalist/skeptical community on gender issues, sexual orientation issues, and other social issues has been getting tripped up once the general facts are somewhat agreed upon.  It is the way you can have four different skeptics in a room agree about facts, but have five different political points of view.  The interview also contains some sound dating advice as well as a reasoned take on the thorny topic of free will.  

I’ll probably download Dr. Pigliucci's book to my tablet computer of choice.  I am not sure I’ll agree with the entire book just based upon the interview, but Dr. Pigliucci does at least argue a prima facie case that science alone is not sufficient.  

Phobos 2 
Dr. Stuart Robbins discusses the Mystery of Phobos 2 on Exposing PseudoAstronomy. Dr. Robbins talks about the lore that a Soviet probe launch in 1988 to study the Martian moon Phobos, and what caused the mission lose contact with Earth when the probe came near the Martian moon.  Was the probe shot down or destroyed by some form of alien intelligence, or perhaps it was a mistake of the aliens that caused the probe to malfunction?  Dr. Robbins, with his wit and research, points out why the evidence is so thin, and a highly unlikely event.  (Spoiler alert: it’s probably just scanning or camera artifact.*)  

Dr. Robbins also shares his brief phone-in appearance on the late night radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM” when Mike Bara was a recent guest on the episode.  Dr. Robbins also shared that there is a possibility that he may be a future guest on the program.  If this does occur, I will definitely have to stay up late and come into work late the next day so I can listen live.  

*This is a similar reason for a number of UFOs spied on Google Earth.  

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