Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Skepticality, fight'n Lady Vikings, and a new Skeptic Blog

The latest Skepticality, of September 16, 2014, features a panel discussion from the latest DragonCon entitled “Denying Evolution and Climate Science.” The panel actually dealt with broader topics and included anti-vaccine ideas too. The panel consisted of Dr. Steven Novella, Barbara Drescher, Matt Lowry, and David DiSalvo.  As would be expected from such a panel, the discussion was smart and thoughtful on just what motivates and drives some people from coming to terms with the scientific consensus.  Interestingly, the people who disagree with the consensus of man-made climate change or that evolution by means of natural selection is how life evolves still put faith in ‘science.’  The problem is that those who disagree with consensus see themselves disagreeing with particular scientists and not the idea of science itself for the most part. 

Actually, this is extremely frustrating.  The idea of beating the drum that science is good to the public won’t increase literacy.  Somehow the public has to be educated on how science works, what is consensus, what is the process of science, etc.  That is a lot harder to do, so sure people "fucking love science" but so what.  I would rather have people appreciate science and know a few basic fundamentals and leave the amorous feeling for other worthy things like one’s partner or cat. 

The panel did discuss how to reach "the muddled middle" of people who are on the fence about vaccinating their children or might be on the fence about this climate change stuff.  The panel did seem to agree that in many ways it's not more science outreach that needs to be done, but a cultural change on how science is viewed by the public.  The internet for science advocacy is, as pointed out by Novella, a double edged sword as people tend to seek out information to confirm their predisposed ideas rather than seek out 'just the facts.'  

ok. Kristen Bell played
a sorta Viking & kicked
ass as Veronica Mars*
Also, I really enjoyed the Skeptical Humanities pod-let where Bob Blaskiewicz interviewed Eve Siebert on the recent archeology story making the rounds that a Viking burial site revealed evidence that one half of Viking warriors were women.  This bit of news was picked up by a few rationalist blogs.  When I read the story I can’t say I knew it was probably inaccurate but it sure seemed odd to me.  For me, you’d think when England, France, and the rest of Europe were getting raided and sacked in the centuries surrounding 1000 A.D. someone would have mentioned their boys just got their butts handed to them by a bunch of Viking girls. (I shall refrain from making a Frozen joke.)  Still, what do I know, I am a simple caveman lawyer.  Fortunately, Dr. Siebert, medievalist, does have the skills and training to dig into these findings, and basically, it was way over blown and people should not have taken the bait.

Finally, there is a new blog on the block of some note: Insight.  It is a collaborative blog hosted by and the best way to describe this effort is that it is the same as the recently shuttered Skeptic blogs, but different.  I think of it as Mayberry RFD springing from The Andy Griffith Show.  The lineup of contributors looks promising: Blake Smith, Barbara Drescher, Daniel Loxton (editor of the blog), Donald Prothero, and Eve Siebert, among others. I look forward to following this project, and hope it stays focused upon Skepticism, and does not breakdown due to infighting and other such nonsense.  

*ok.  I made a Frozen joke.

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