Category Archives: Skepticism

What has science ever done for us?

Witty and simply excellent chalk talk by Richard Taverne was broadcast here on Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast.

 

New episode of Rationally Speaking Podcast is out!

New Q & A episode of Rationally Speaking Podcast is out, and it is as good as always! There was one extremely interesting piece of information mentioned this time. Apparently, WWII and consequent Cold War had a huge influence on the surprisingly low interest in Bayesian stats in academia during the recent past. It was due to the fact that statisticians were using this approach for dealing with confidential government assignments, and hence these applications couldn’t be published…

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

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?!