Tag science

At Last!!! BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks onto science programmes

This is an issue that plagues every single media institution. Because the BBC is THE port of call, for me at least, for news and views, whether from their excellent website, r from their news coverage, it is infuriating, from a skeptical point of view, that equal airtime is given to dissenting views which do not hold equal proportion of adherence in the relevant fields. That a creationist might receive 1 on 1 battle time with an evolutionary bioligist is misrepresenting the state of affairs, as can be seen here:

My 3-year-old makes an evolutionary hypothesis

OK so my twins are almost 4, but that doesn’t stop me being proud when they make what appears to be good causal connections about the world around them. In this case, looking closely at a dinosaur boo, this is what happened. I was busy getting dressed and ready for work; I was impatiently in a hurry.

Ancient Aliens and Modern UFOs

Good news, everyone! My talk for the Illini Secular Student Alliance at UIUC back in April is now up for everyone to see. In my presentation, I talk about the 20th century origins of the ancient astronaut hypothesis (now in its modern TV form, Ancient Aliens), the sorts of claims about the past and why they don’t hold up, and into the sorts of claims related to modern UFOs and alien visitations–that is, close encounters. I also get to bring up my research and book on the Star of Bethlehem.

Review of #TheUniverse: Ancient Mysteries Solved(?) — The Star of Bethlehem

A few weeks ago on the History Channel’s sister station, H2, the astronomy-based series The Universe went on a quest to solve an ancient mystery. Previous episodes in the previous few weeks had covered the construction and purpose of the pyramids (which was pretty good), Stonehenge, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first two certainly have an astronomical connection, such as the solstice alignment of Stonehenge, but explaining Sodom’s ruin via astronomical body begs the very serious question: was this simply a theological story or etiological myth? Apparently that skepticism couldn’t find its way to the heart of the show.

Christianity and science. Again.

Here is a quote that I posted on the Daily Telegraph (eek) in the UK which was reporting the letter it had received denouncing PM Cameron’s claim that we should be proud that we are a Christian nation. I will first post the comment I reacted to:

BHA President Jim Al-Khalili delivers 2014 Voltaire Lecture

The room was heaving in Conway Hall last night as British Humanist Association (BHA) President, physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili gave this year’s Voltaire Lecture on the theme of ‘Lessons from the past: science and rationalism in medieval Islam.’ The lecture was chaired by his predecessor as President, and current BHA Vice President, the journalist Polly Toynbee.

The Water and the Flood

OK, so most people of neutral, skeptical or commonsensical persuasion understand that the global flood claims of Genesis are nonsense. Yet the meme still persists amongst literalists and fundamentalists. I love GearHeadEd’s comment over on DC. It shows that that much water is truly a ridiculous concept. I wrote extensively once on why people believe such silly things. Here is Ed’s comment:

Thoughts on the Nye/Ham Creationism/Evolution Debate

The end is Nye!

Sorry, made that joke last time, but now it seems better suited.

So last night was the much-trafficked debate between Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and AiG founder Ken Ham. Now, I am obviously biased towards the scientific consensus; evidence tends to do that. However, I have to say that I was pessimistic about how the debate would go. I didn’t figure either side would really win, but rather it seemed there would be a lot of talking past each other. And while that happened to an extend, overall I think Nye handled things rather well.

Nye vs Ham – who won?

Well, without having yet finished, it seems open and closed. Don’t get me wrong, both were assured and neither will shift the other’s position, obviously. But you simply can’t argue against such robust and predictive science.

The Exposing Pseudoastronomy Podcast takes on the Star of Bethlehem … with Me, Aaron Adair!

As part of the continuing efforts to get the message out about the Star of Bethlehem and the failure to explain it with astronomy, I was interviewed on the Exposing Pseudoastronomy podcast, run by Stuart Robbins, an young planetary scientist and skeptic. In the past, the podcast has tackled lots of material from Coast to Coast AM and some of their top guests, such asRichard Hoagland, in great but comfortable detail. That should be enough reason to subscribe to this skeptical outlet.

The Star of Bethlehem in the News

It’s been a while since I have posted, but I have been super-busy with getting my PhD and other research-related activities. But there has been some great news when it comes to my work on The Star of Bethlehem. Over on Amazon, the reviews have been very positive, with one exception–though that person has proven to not be a charitable reader to put it nicely.

Fearful Memories Passed Down to Mouse Descendants

Certain fears can be inherited through the generations, a provocative study of micereports. The authors suggest that a similar phenomenon could influence anxiety and addiction in humans. But some researchers are sceptical of the findings because a biological mechanism that explains the phenomenon has not been identified.