Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day


Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 11, 2008

We have a little argument going on in one of the pointless poll threads. The question being asked is, “Do you believe in the Big Bang?” Some people are indignant (and correct!) and protesting that their views on scientific matters are not a matter of opinion, but of impartial assessment of the evidence; these views are independent of personal belief, and are also held provisionally, subject to revision in the face of better evidence.

These people are also being infuriatingly pedantic, and are expressing an attitude that interferes with the communication of ideas. Don’t sputter out a bunch of reservations and refuse to answer, state a general position and then drill down into the details and qualifications. Pound this into your heads, and stop boring people with irrelevant musings that only detract from the central point.

Here’s an example. Imagine you’re at a party with a bunch of normal people, not the kinds of nerds who hang out in Pharyngula comment threads. Ordinary people, drinking beer, talking about sports and the weather, and one of them has heard that you’re kind of an egghead, so they ask a simple question in terms that they understand (just like the phrasing in that poll), and they ask it in a tone that suggests they have doubts, but they’re willing to talk with you about it. They ask something like, “Do you believe evolution is true?”


Barack Obama Answers Science Debate 2008

Posted in The Intersection by Skepdude on September 2, 2008


In November, 2007, a small group of six citizens – two screenwriters, a physicist, a philosopher, and Chris and I – began working to restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue in an initiative called ScienceDebate2008. Within weeks, more than 38,000 scientists, engineers, and other concerned Americans signed on, including nearly every major American science organization, dozens of Nobel laureates, elected officials and business leaders, and the presidents of over 100 major American universities. Signers submitted over 3,400 questions and we worked with the leading organizations involved to craft the top 14 questions the candidates should answer.

Barack Obama is the first to step up to our challenge and John McCain has said he will answer as well.

obamasenate.pngThe Senator from Illinois has responded comprehensively providing a glimpse into what an Obama-Biden administration would look like. Read his first answer below and all fourteen here.

1. Innovation. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since WWII. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?