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The Demon-Haunted World June 18, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, books, creationism, ethics, evolution, fallacy, freethought, god, language, life, media, NASA, politics, psychology, reading, religion, science, skepticism, space exploration, theism.
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It’s been more than I decade since Carl Sagan wrote A Demon-haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark, But even as I reread it today its message is as timely as ever. The survival of our way of life depends entirely our scientific knowledge and how we apply it. Yet we have created a society where the vast majority have no knowledge of the methods or findings of science and no knowledge of how the technology they use everyday actually works.

Furthermore we have media and politicians that present everyday anti-science attitudes, watered down and pop-culture simplifications of science, and present pseudo-science uncritically.

Everyone should read this book; theist or atheist; “evolutionist” or creationist. Whatever your stripe you will get something out of it and enjoy the trip.

Carl Sagan explains what makes science the best way we have to know what is:

Some people consider science arrogant, nevertheless, I maintain that science is part and parcel humility. Scientists do not seek to impose their needs and wants on Nature, but instead humbly interrogate Nature and take seriously what they find. We understand human imperfection. We insist on independent and to the extent possible, quantitative verification of proposed tenets of belief. We are constantly prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs.

Re: Warming Not Worth Wrestling NASA Boss Says May 31, 2007

Posted by Joe in global warming, NASA, science.
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This was my response to Warming Not Worth Wrestling NASA Boss Says:

You define agreeing with the consensus of scientists in the field as “band wagoning”?

Ok, perhaps we should look at what the man said:

“I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists,” Griffin told Inskeep. “I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.”

So global warming is happening. I agree with him there. We don’t have to do anything about it I suppose, but we might want to.

“To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change,”

Or maybe we want to keep our coastal cities above seawater, want to maintain our food supply and not have to relocate and change food crops for all the farms on the planet that depend on their local climate to determine what they can grow.

There is nothing “optimal” about the current global environment we live in except that it happens to be the one we live in. It is the environment that our agriculture, transportation and energy infrastructure, and general way of life is built around. Changing it drastically in a very short period would change a lot of these things drastically in a short period. This would require a lot of resources to correct and would endanger many lives and the stability of our technological infrastructure.

“I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

Well maybe the ones that are most probably responsible for changing it should stand up and take responsibility for maintaining it for the rest of life on this Earth to live in.

Like it or not, buy ascending to a massive level of environmental influence we have appointed ourselves as stewards of the Earth. We need to take this position seriously.

Shuttle Launch Simulator May 29, 2007

Posted by Joe in NASA, science, space exploration.
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Kennedy Space Center has unveiled an attraction better than any silly ride at Disney World or Six Flags. Last Friday they opened a $60 million shuttle launch simulator. Which accurately recreates how it feels to take off in a shuttle, complete with sounds, video screen “windows”, shakes, rattles and movement to simulate the fast acceleration.

Article on Wired

Another thing not to miss if I ever take a trip to Florida. The first thing I wouldn’t miss would be a real launch.