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.  


Dr. Robbins compares the Mars liquid water to the controversy of who first discovered calculus, and U.F.O. promoters claiming alien received knowledge years before Earthly scientist made certain discoveries.  The whole episode is quite well done, and well worth the twenty minute or so listen.

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe episode 536 covered SciFi Movies and Death.  George Hrab was guest Roguing for Cara Santa Maria, and as is typical for Hrab's appearance he fits in with the regular Rogues like a glove.  Toward the end of show, the panel discussed their top favorite Science Fiction movies.  Given the chemistry of the panel and the topic, it was a fun fifteen or so minutes to hear.
SciFi was attractive in the 50s: Wiki
 There was more of the discussion as premium content which I am unable to access.  The chat struck me as one I would have with friends sitting around a table in a diner after getting out of the movie.  While none of the movies bandied around were surprising, I am not sure I agree with all their choices, but respect them.  Sometimes its nice to just listen and enjoy and not necessarily learn anything.  

The show opens with Hrab sharing that a bandmate of his recently passed away aged 50.  She died after a struggle against cancer.  It is terrible.  It is tragic.  I have no doubt that Hrab, and the friends and family are genuinely mourning.  Hrab came across as genuinely angry that some well wishers would state that the deceased is in heaven, or in a better place, or it fits god's plan.  In fairness, Hrab indicated he understood such statement and sentiments were out of kindness and not cruelty.  Yet, Hrab was mad.  I am not sure I get it.  

I am not a person of faith.  When somebody says bless you after a sneeze, I don't take some offense at it.  The blesser is being polite.  When someone says one's late friend is in heaven, I may not agree but I take the kindness for what it is and not that they are being mean or snarky.  I lost my grandmother nearly a decade ago.  I still miss her.  I off-handedly like to think of her with my grandfather and all their friends and family all together somewhere.  When I think more analytically, I highly doubt this to be the case.   People die.  Their life is gone, and there is a hole in the livings' lives.  Emotionally, it is just easier for me when a friend or acquaintance bring up Mammy being in heaven with Pop-pop and Aunt Dot I don't think 'how dare you' or 'you boob why do you presume I agree with such nonsense.'  I think 'yeah I hope that is the case' and I thank the person for their kind words.  Sure, if Hrab told me that the death of a loved one was all in god's plan I'd be a bit miffed, since he would not be sincere in the sentiment.  However, I suspect the majority of people are being sincere with such mentions of a widely held religious belief.   

I cannot say I think Hrab is wrong for being unhappy at people presuming he agrees with their existence of afterlife sentiments or religious ideas.  If such things bother Hrab or other of the Rogues, that is fine.  People feel what they feel.  For me, there are times the sentiment means more than what one is actually conveying.  There are times to keep one's rational beliefs in check and bring one's humanity to the fore.  

There was something fun, something thought provoking, and something sad.  All in all, it was a good weekend for podcasts. 

1 comment:


  1. There was something fun, something thought provoking, and something sad. All in all, it was a good weekend for podcasts. cheap trash cans for sale

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