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Radio Freethinker Episode 181 – Science Strikes Back Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on September 11, 2012

This week:

– Canada Cuts Diplomatic Ties to Iran
– Organic Shmorganic

– Korean Science strikes back, and
-Interview with Desiree Schell from Sceptically Speaking

Download the episode here!

Canada Cuts Diplomatic Ties to Iran

Syrian Blood Bath

Why did we cut diplomatic ties? What are the issues involved: Nuclear power, human rights, embassy security in the face of ‘western’ sections or protest against Iran’s support for Syria?Why treat Iran different than Russia?Is this a better response to Syrian atrocities than what was done to Libya?

Find out more:

Organic Shmorganic

Another study shows Organic not better than ‘regular’ food; although some important ‘non-health’ issues were left out (ie. environmental, health of farmers….). We discuss yet another blow to the cult-of-organics while acknowledging organic is not all pseudo-science.

Find out more:

Korean Science strikes back

After reporting on the science ‘fail’ of South Korea when attempts by South Korean evangelicals, the Society for Textbook Revise, to have evolution removed from science textbooks looked like they were about to succeed; it seem science has struck back!

This sparked outrage among scientists and the population in general. The resulting furore led the government to set up an 11-member panel, led by the Korean Academy of Science and Technology  and including five experts on evolution and fossils, to oversee science-textbook revisions

We reported the fail, we now report that win!

Find out more:

Interview with Desiree Schell from Sceptically Speaking

Desiree Schell is the host of the live Canadian call-in radio talk show and podcast “Skeptically Speaking”.[1] A Skeptic, Desiree is a strong advocate for critical thinking and is strongly interested in the promotion of skepticism publicly. In her work as a labour organizer, Desiree creates curricula and teaches courses on effective activism.

Find out more:

Skeptical Highlights:

Out of the Blogs and On To the Streets: What Skepticism Can Learn from Social Movements

Organized skepticism is currently at a crossroads – we’re making more public progress than ever before, but there are internal and external challenges that could prevent us from affecting real change. Many social movements have been down this road, and many of them have come through it stronger, more united, and more effective. If social movements are the experts at affecting change, what can we learn from them to apply to our own community?

When:  Friday, September 14th 2012 at 7:00 pm
Where: Room 1700 of SFU Harbour Centre, 555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Who: Desiree Schell
Cost: Suggested donation of $2 to $10

Effective Skeptical Activism

A number of politicians have had their careers prematurely cut short because of perceived or actual issues regarding their personal lives. If the issue does not directly relate to their job, is this fair? Does, and should, one’s personal morals or religion reflect upon their professional conduct?

When:  September 15th 2012 at 2:00 pm
Where: Room 2245 SFU Harbour Centre, 555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Who: Desiree Schell
Cost: Admission is $20 and includes a copy of Desiree’s guidebook ‘Skeptical Activism’

Video: To the Bat Cave!

Bat biologist Nickolay Hristov, of UNC’s Center for Design Innovation and Winston-Salem State University, develops new techniques for filming and visualizing bats and the caves they occupy. Some of the tools in his kit include a long-range laser scanner–for modelling bat cave morphology–and portable thermal cameras–to capture bat-life when the lights are off.

Wonderful to watch!


NPR’s Science Friday September Book Club Winner Is…FlatLand

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott. Writing pseudonymously as “a Square”,[1] Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. However, the novella’s more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions, for which the novella is still popular amongst mathematics, physics, and computer science students.

Free Download: Flatland (illustrated version)

Taking a Scientific approach to public policy…for real!

Government should be more evidence based, and that wherever possible, they should do randomised trials to find out which policy intervention works best. They often have no idea whether the things they do in government actually work or not, and achieve their stated goals.

Ben Goldacre got together with come of his government co-workers and science heads to wrote a  Cabinet Office paper on randomised trials of government policies to explain why randomised trials of policy are so powerful; we explain exactly how to do them; and we explain how to identify a meaningful policy question that can be explored cheaply in a good quality trial.

The paper is not perfect, but a good move in the right direction.

Download: Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials


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