Merchants of Doubt (2014, Robert Kenner)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

This is a compelling film about how corporations and lobby groups use pundits to undermine scientific consensuses that would otherwise hurt their profits. The examines the bag of tricks both the tobacco industry and the oil industry have used to fool the American public about both the short and long term health risks of the use of their products, including making the conversation about economics, not science, and outright lying about scientific studies and consensus. Read More

Climate Change by the Numbers (2015)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is an interesting TV documentary about mathematical models in climate science. It’s rather cursory in its overall focus – three mathematicians explain to us three numbers from the IPCC’s report – but rather detailed in the individual segments. It’s a good example of good popular science TV, as it’s easy to understand and interesting enough, but its made-for-tv nature and it’s relative brevity keep it from being a must watch. 7/10 Read More

The Physicists (1961) by Friedrich Durrenmatt, adapted by Michael Healy, live at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford, July 25, 2015

Categories: 1961, 2015, and Theatre.

This is a play about the social responsibility of scientists posing as a murder mystery-cum comedy, set in an insane asylum. The play uses comedy and the teensiest bit of mystery to dilute it’s overwise very heavy-handed message. The play itself is so prescient (and so relevant to our time) that I am shocked I had never heard of it or its author and I’ve had to add him to my list as I suspect that he’s written more interesting stuff, even if this is his most famous work. The cast was excellent and the staging was particularly clever, using Read More

The Universe: Cosmology Quest (2004, Randall Meyers)

Categories: 2004 and Movies.

Full disclosure: I never once took physics in high school and I certainly never took physics after that. My math background is so far in my past that I cannot rely on it. So you have to take everything I have to say about the physics of this film with a grain of salt. But before I get to the nature of the content, let me just say that this is a poorly made film: the narrator is brutal (his voice is given some kind of effect to make him sound like he’s from “Deep Space” and the script is Read More

The Conservative Party of Canada is now officially the Party of Willful Ignorance.

Categories: Politics, Science, and Society.

Last week, the Government of Canada voted against “Science“. Quite literally, it turns out. Here is the text of the motion the Conservatives voted down: That, in the opinion of the House, a) public science, basic research, and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making; b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; c) the government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to Read More

Bad Science (2011) by Ben Goldacre

Categories: 2011, Books, and Non-Fiction.

First off, this is pretty much an essential read for anyone who doesn’t have a science background. Goldacre gives an easy to understand and funny crash course in basic evaluative tools to assess scientific studies  It’s also an important reminder of how little time each of us takes to digest what actually requires some time and thought. I highly recommend this to everyone, but especially to anyone currently opposed to vaccines, or convinced of medical “conspiracies” or relying completely on “natural” solutions to problems. Unfortunately, there is a problem – or rather two – and its a pretty big drawback, Read More

Reflections on the god thing

Categories: Philosophy.

I’ve been trying to read up on chaos theory today, as I think there may be some sociopolitical implications that haven’t been addressed by most of what I’ve read for the book. The description of chaos I’m familiar with sounds an awful lot like life: minuscule changes in initial circumstances have a big effect on things later on. The problem is that life can hardly be considered a “deterministic system,” beyond the fact of death. But in reading about this I came across one of those wacky theologian-scientists who believe that there is a god despite what they’ve learned about Read More