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The last 40 years with the SciSchmooze 9.16.17

Greetings Science Fans,

I have to apologize for this issue of the SciSchmooze. I have been reveling in the accomplishments of the folks at NASA and our Moon for the last two months. I find that I am at a loss for words (that rarely happens!) when I consider what we have celebrated recently.

40 years ago  Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 started their journey. It has been  an amazing journey and what we have learned from and achieved with them is stunning. When they were launched vinyl records were the way to hear music, cell phones didn’t exist, and the internet was an idea.

 Where Are the Voyagers Now? Voyager went to Saturn before Cassini!
 Voyager 1 Trajectory through the Solar System
 The Farthest — Voyager in Space is an amazing story about the Voyagers. I can’t recommend in enough.

Between the two Voyager anniversaries, the  moon got in the way of the sun’s light. This really shows the beauty and wonder of the Great Eclipse of 2017. I wonder how many of us actually went to see it. I did.

And then there is (was) Cassini. It was an astounding success as well. In 1997 pagers were high tech and...

Revising My Opinion of the Erin Brokavich Case...

If you're over 30, the name Erin Brokavich likely conjures up images of a working-class hero, fighting for the cancer-ridden little guys against a Erin Brokavich (2000)Erin Brokavich (2000)corrupt multi-billion dollar corporation and winning millions for them.

Anyone who saw the eponymous film starring Julia Roberts and Albert Finny was likely wiping away joyful tears by the end, satisfied that the little guys had gotten justice because of this brave woman (who wasn't even a lawyer!). I count myself among the acolytes in those early years after the film's release. Since then, I've gotten new data. As a result, I've changed my mind....

SkeptiCal 2017

Special Report by Susan Gerbic

(Repinted with permission from  The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry)

Race, Pornography, Fake News, Eclipse, Brain Myths, Popular Assumptions, and the Magic of Science: those terms sum up the content of the eighth annual SkeptiCal conference held in the Shattuck Hotel in Berkeley, California, on Sunday June 11, 2017. SkeptiCal is a one-day skeptic conference brought to us by the Bay Area Skeptics and the Sacramento Area Skeptics.

Photo by Susan GerbicPhoto by Susan Gerbic

This is the first time being held at the Shattuck, but the event has floated between Berkeley and Oakland, California, over the last eight years,. This time because of the location, the organizers decided to only meet in one room with no breakout sessions running concurrently as it had in the past. I have attended all eight conferences as it is only a two-hour drive from my home in Salinas. Each one has its own flavor, this one seemed...

Beyond the Choir - Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

A SkepTalk by Susan Gerbic on 11 May 2017GSoW

We should all applaud Susan Gerbic's impossible mission: to keep Wikipedia free from promotions of pseudoscience. Amazingly, she has been remarkably successful due to her methods. She recruits volunteers to help in this mission, puts them through 'boot camp' so they know what to do and how to do it, and tracks everything that is accomplished.

Her cadre of recruits living around the world is the Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, a.k.a. GSoW.

Because anybody can edit Wikipedia pages, making a change can...

An Invisible Plague: the Growing Threat of Tuberculosis

A SkepTalk by Dr. Lauren Popov on 13 April 2017

Dr. Popov’s cheerful voice contrasted strangely with the horror of tuberculosis; indeed, she commented on that herself. However, her upbeat delivery and highly informative details kept me and the rest of the audience captivated throughout her presentation.

She began by pointing out that:

  • Although the ebola virus outbreak that began in 2014 in West Africa killed about 9,000 people, a similar number of people die from tuberculosis every 44 hours

Report From SkeptiCal, the Northern California Science and Skepticism Conference

(The following is unabashedly stolen from The Center For Inquiry.)

Susan GerbicSkeptiCal2016
June 27, 2016

The seventh SkeptiCal was held Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the Oakland, CA, Asian Cultural Center. I’ve attended all seven, each is unique and I always leave feeling that I’ve had a great experience. This is billed as the Northern California Science and Skepticism Conference, and as usual for this specific event, is heavy on the science. The speakers are varied enough to keep the audience interested as you will soon see. The hosts are the Bay Area Skeptics led by Eugenie Scott and Sacramento Area Skeptics, Frank Mosher.

I attend as many skeptic conferences as I can, and each one has its own “flavor” and style. SkeptiCal differs from others by being a no-frills event, but without you noticing that those frills are missing. Many of the speakers are working scientists talking about their...

"Doing Good in the World - Prosocial Behavior" - Ep. 19 of ShelShocked...

During the holiday season, we usually start receiving messages about good cheer, Belinda CarlisleBelinda Carlislehope for the future, and volunteering to help those less fortunate. Even for those of us who are non-believers, it's a wonderful time of year.

Have you ever wondered what makes people "do good"?

A New Group: Silicon Valley Skeptics

...and our board president is giving a talk there!!!Eugenie Scott, PhD

Please welcome the Silicon Valley Skeptics to our extended community. They have a Meetup page HERE. If possible, attend the talk on December 4th by Dr. Eugenie Scott, board president of the Bay Area Skeptics.

What if 'Intelligent Design' Had Won? Reflecting on 10 Years Since Kitzmiller v. Dover

Ten years ago, the decision in Kitzmiller v Dover determined that

SkeptiCal-15 Speakers on Youtube!

New BAS Channel Announced

Ann Reid at SkeptiCal-15Ann Reid at SkeptiCal-15

Good news for SkeptiCal fans! (Of course you know SkeptiCal – it’s the northern California conference of science and critical thinking, sponsored by the Bay Area Skeptics and the Sacramento Skeptics. You knew that, didn’t you? Good).

BAS now has a Youtube channel and the first PLAYLIST presents...

Guest Post: Obituary for Wallace Sampson, M.D. March 29, 1930 -- May 25, 2015

By Carol and Ben Baumgartner

Wally SampsonWally Sampson It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our admired and beloved friend, Wallace Ira Sampson, M.D., “Wally”, on May 25, 2015 at Valley Medical Center in San Jose.

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