Monthly Archives: February 2012

People do not go to the cinema because of piracy?

This is a sentence that gets repeated (at least in Czech) media on a daily basis: “In times when people do not go to the cinema due to the prevalence of internet piracy, movie producers have to…”. To me, this statement is very problematic from at least two reasons. Read more of this post

Karel Čapek

When I was listening to the the new episode of SGU, I was pleasantly surprised by Rebecca’s choice for the “This day in skepticism” segment. She picked the following event:

Feb 11, 1938     BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Capek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”.

Here I would like to mention few inaccuracies. First of all, the name of the Czech author is originally spelled as Karel Čapek, hence the name is pronounced as /Chappeck/ rather than /Kappeck/ (you can check the correct pronunciation at Wikipedia). Second imperfection is connected to the etymology of the word “robot”. Rebecca said that it is a Czech expression for a slave, which is quite close, but I will still allow myself to be a bit more nerdy about it. The word “robot” comes from “robota”, an old Slavonic term for a hard manual labor, which more specifically referred to the forced labor all subjects had to do for their lord. So no slaves, but subjects. Further, even though Karel Čapek was the first who used “robot” in his play, he actually is not the author of the term. In fact, it was his brother, Josef, who suggested this neologism, as an alternative to Karel’s original “labor”. Read more of this post

Scientists contra Opinion-makers in the Great Climate Change Debate

Quite recently, I had an argument with one old friend. He is right-wing oriented (he really digs Ayn Rand), which can be an explosive factor sometimes, but since I like to see myself as a pragmatist when it comes to politics, it is not always that hot. What triggered this disagreement was actually the global change of climate. Unfortunately, at that time we both had some drinks already so it was rather a shouting match, and I have to say I have a strong feeling of disappointment for my side of the argument because I was not able to keep myself calm and rational. Anyway, the argument was followed by an email conversation, which gave us more space for calm articulation of our arguments, but to my surprise the results were not much better. Read more of this post

Evolutionary Psychology and Feminism Wars

I have finally managed to update my google reader subscriptions by adding RSS of some of my favorite journals, and I have to say this move already yields its results. This time I chanced upon an article about an issue that I was systematically encountering, but since I consider it rather a political topic, it always ended up right bellow the radar of my interest. It is about the (I think it’s fair to call it tense) relations between feminism and evolutionary psychology1. Read more of this post

How to use bad stats to justify calling conservatives stupid…

Today in the morning I opened this popular Czech online political blog/magazine that is mostly left-wing oriented. What caught my attention were two articles claiming that some scientists found that conservatism and right wing orientation are a result of – guess what – lower intelligence in childhood. What a coincidence, isn’t it? Read more of this post

Denialist newspeak

Today, I encountered a very neat way of how to define a skeptic: “an establishment science apologist and propagandist”. A cool idea for t-shirt, isn’t it?!