Saturday 9 July 2011

The Weekly Round Up - 9/7/11

Image Credit: NASA TV
Hello everybody and welcome to the return of the Birmingham Skeptics’ rather inaccurately named Weekly Round-Up where we scour the web for interesting stories and sites for your delectation. Well, it’s accurate in that the stories and links are ones that we’ve come across in the last week but inaccurate in that the last one of these was over a month ago. Still, some things are worth the wait and we’ll do our best to get back on track with regular updates from now on.

There can be only one place to start and unless you’ve been participating in sensory deprivation tests in some remote lab over the last week you’ve probably come across Elevatorgate. It began with one woman, Rebecca Watson, based on her experience at a conference (and undoubtedly at other points of her life) politely requesting that men think about their thoughts and actions towards women and to not be creepy. Then it got a whole lot bigger! At all stages of this there has been a lot of debate with some surprise interventions and Rebecca provides a great round up and explanation on her blog.

PZ Myers brought some brilliant work by Biologist Phil Senter to our attention. Creation scientists (Oxymoron Alert!) use methods and publishing practices that make what they do look like science. Rather than dismissing them, Senter treats them seriously and goes on to hoist them by their own petard.

The next one isn’t a blog but is a lovely lovely site. The representation of data doesn’t have to be linear and boring and with a bit of imagination and talent stunning effects can be created. That’s how they work over at Information is Beautiful. Have a look at their visualisation called Snake Oil? You may disagree with some of the conclusions, but that’s fine, read down to the bottom and you’ll see it’s a wonderfully fluid diagram that can adapt to change as new evidence presents itself.  This one requires flash to view but there’s a link on the page to other wonderful visualisations.

This post comes courtesy of the excellent PodBlack. It’s a tragic tale involving a psychic that makes you want to scream at the sheer stupidity of the situation and at the same time renders you speechless. The post is suitably understated leaving you lots of room for reflection.

It’s more than a week old but that’s not going to stop us including Jourdemayne’s hugely entertaining and interesting post on the Vampires of Rhode Island. I think we’re going to have to try and tempt this talented person to Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub very soon.

If you’re one of our regulars at Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub you’ll have noticed how popular we’re becoming. Last month’s talk by Ash Pryce was pretty full and there’s a good chance this month’s by Jon Ronson will be even more so. We’ve given a bit of thought as to how best manage this so if you’re planning on coming take a look here.

The space shuttle is on its last mission and we bid it a sad and fond farewell. It’s been a long road and you can look back over the history of the shuttle and follow the last days of the current mission over at the NASA website.

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