Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Skepticism starts at home

27 August 2009

In “What Do I Do Next?” a list of 105 ways to become an active skeptic , editor Daniel Loxton and his colleagues discuss personal relationships at length.  Karen Stollznow, editor of The Skeptic magazine reminds us that:

We are always representatives for skepticism, and should always be ready to discuss a skeptical perspective, where appropriate, with our children, family, friends, colleagues and strangers. This isn’t proselytizing; this is promoting science, education, logic, and healthy skepticism.

This is a tall order. Being put on the spot, potentially about topics you are not well versed in, can be difficult. I would add to the litany detailed in “What Do I Do Next?” that skepticism starts at home, and it is likely that your family is a good place to start discussing the consequences and reality of pseudoscience. They might get a little pissed off, but unlikely to hold a grudge. (more…)



25 August 2009
A Venerable Orang-outang, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine

"A Venerable Orang-outang", a caricature of Charles Darwin published in The Hornet, 1871

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-authors of “Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future,” wrote an op-ed piece for the Guardian yesterday rehashing their views on the tumultuous relationship between science and religion. Their points have all been made before… and have all been criticized before, e.g. But in this piece, they wrapped up their discussion of how the rift between science and religion might be assessed and resolved by asking the question: What would Charles Darwin do (WWCDD)? (more…)

Star light, start bright… Wow! I can actually see stars tonight

20 August 2009

Saturday night I zoomed up the Catalina Highway, a 28-mile serpentine course through craggy mountains leading to the tippy-top of Mt. Lemmon. An impressive 9,157 feet above Tucson, Arizona, sits the Mt. Lemmon Observatory. Operated in conjunction with the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, Mt. Lemmon has a research station that is home to some impressive space-viewing equipment and several biological research projects focused on the amazing mountain ecosystem. (more…)

Peer-review for the younger generation

11 August 2009

A Correspondence in the most recent issue of the journal Nature called attention to an endeavor designed to allow grade-school students to participate in the scientific peer-review process. The journal Young Scientists, “a free online journal for scientists aged 12-20,” was launched in 2006 as a collaborative project among students and teachers at a historical boarding school in Kent, England. The journal is structured like an academic journal and includes original research articles authored by students from around the world. As a particularly endearing divergence from the traditional scientific journal format, there tends to be lengthy bios about the authors at the end of the articles. Overall, the journal is an uplifting glimpse into the excitement that science can foster in our youth. (more…)

Hey, you got art in my science! No, you got science in my art!

7 August 2009

There has been a recent trend to blend science and art as a means to promote science to a broader audience, and perhaps to promote art to a broader audience as well. I endeavor to be the beneficiary of the latter effort. This marriage of disciplines seems an especially apt way to reach New Yorkers. The most recent broadcast of NPR’s Science Friday did a piece on “The Art of the Natural History Museum,” in which they described the work involved in creating scientifically accurate exhibits and reconstructions of extinct organisms. The show featured individuals who were more scientist than artist, and those more artist than scientist, and described how they work together to create projects that are at the same time both accurate and pleasing to the eye. (more…)