Monday, 30 August 2010

Bad Universe S01E01 Asteroid Apocalypse

A new 3 part show (August 2010) debunking junk science, from the creator of Phil Plait. The universe is a dangerous place. Threats can come from any direction. But pop culture has played fast and loose with the facts, and quite often the things we know are all wrong, and when you're dealing with the universe, ignorance can be deadly. That's where Phil Plait comes in. He's an 'Alpha Nerd' with a PhD in Astronomy, on a mission to debunk all the junk science out there and reveal the truth. In each episode, he'll show you the real science behind the mysteries of this planet, our solar system and the bad universe we all live in.

New Scientist – 28 August 2010

English | 68 pages | PDF | 15.95 MB

New Scientist is a weekly international science magazine and website covering recent developments in science and technology for a general English-speaking audience. Founded in 1956, it is published by Reed Business Information Ltd, a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier. New Scientist has maintained a website since 1996, publishing daily news. As well as covering current events and news from the scientific community, the magazine often features speculative articles, ranging from the technical to the philosophical.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Genius of Britain - Documentary

In this 5-part series, we set out on an enormous journey through the history of science and the eminent names such as David Attenborough, Robert Winston, James Dyson, Richard Dawkins tell the story of the British science and those scientists who changed the world.

The Elegant Universe - Documentary

In this 3-part program, the physicist and bestselling author of The Elegant Universe Brian Greene invites us into a world stranger than science fiction, and makes complex issues such as Quantum Physics and String Theory easy to understand.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance

In Einstein in Love, Dennis Overbye has written the first profile of the great scientist to focus exclusively on his early adulthood, when his major discoveries were made. It reveals Einstein to be very much a young man of his time-draft dodger, self-styled bohemian, poet, violinist, and cocky, charismatic genius who left personal and professional chaos in his wake. Drawing upon hundreds of unpublished letters and a decade of research, Einstein in Love is a penetrating portrait of the modern era's most influential thinker.

Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution Of Human Sexuality

Many of us pursue fitness because we want to remain attractive to partners and potential partners, and we stay healthy so we can continue to have sex with those partners. But why do people care so much about sex? This book, written by an evolutionary biologist, explains how all the weird quirks of human sexuality came to be: sex with no intention of procreation, invisible fertility, sex acts pursued in private–all common to us, but very different from most other species. Why Is Sex Fun? asks us to look at ourselves in a brand-new way, and richly rewards us for doing so.

The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science, Second Edition

The new edition of this study provides a concise, balanced, and accessible guide to the most important aspects of the Scientific Revolution. John Henry takes into account the latest developments in this important aspect of European history.

Anthropology For Dummies

Get a handle on the fundamentals of biological and cultural anthropology
When did the first civilizations arise? How many human languages exist? The answers are found in anthropology - and this friendly guide explains its concepts in clear detail. You'll see how anthropology developed as a science, what it tells us about our ancestors, and how it can help with some of the hot-button issues our world is facing today.
• How anthropologists learn about the past
• Humanity's earliest activities, from migration to civilization
• Why our language differs from other animal communication
• How to find a career in anthropology

Philosophy of Science A-Z

What is the aim and method of science? What makes science a rational activity? What rules, if any, govern theory-change in science? How does evidence relate to theory? How do scientific theories relate to the world? How are concepts formed and how are they related to observation? What is the structure and content of major scientific concepts, such as causation, explanation, laws of nature, confirmation, theory, experiment, model, reduction and so on?

This dictionary is an attempt to offer some guidance to all those who want to acquaint themselves with some major ideas in the philosophy of science. Here you will get: concepts, debates, arguments, positions, movements and schools of thought, glimpses on the views and contribution of important thinkers.

On Humanism

Albert Einstein, Isaac Asimov, E.M. Forster, Bertrand Russell, and Gloria Steinem all declared themselves humanists. What is humanism and why does it matter? Is there any doctrine every humanist must hold? If it rejects religion, what does it offer in its place? Have the twentieth century's crimes against humanity spelled the end for humanism?

On Humanism is a timely and powerfully argued philosophical defense of humanism. It is also an impassioned plea that we turn to ourselves, not religion, if we want to answer Socrates' age-old question: what is the best kind of life to lead? Although humanism has much in common with science, Richard Norman shows that it is far from a denial of the more mysterious, fragile side of being human. He deals with big questions such as the environment, Darwinism and "creation science," euthanasia and abortion, and then argues that it is ultimately through the human capacity for art, literature and the imagination that humanism is a powerful alternative to religious belief.

Drawing on a varied range of examples from Aristotle to Primo Levi and the novels of Virginia Woolf and Graham Swift, On Humanism is a lucid and much needed reflection on this much talked about but little understood phenomenon.

The Philosophy of Humanism

Tracing the influence of Humanism from the ancient Greek philosophers through the Enlightenment and the Bill of Rights to the twentieth century, this book is the definitive study of the history and growth of the humanist movement in North America. Renowned philosopher and activist Corliss Lamont offers a vigorous argument for humanism and provides an affirmative, intelligent guidebook for shaping a better life in today's complex world.

Bertrand Russell "Why I Am Not A Christian"

Dedicated as few men have been to the life of reason, Bertrand Russell has always been concerned with the basic questions to which religion also addresses itself -- questions about man's place in the universe and the nature of the good life, questions that involve life after death, morality, freedom, education, and secual ethics. He brings to his treatment of these questions the same courage, srupulous logic, and lofty wisdom for which his other work as philosopher, writer, and teacher has been famous. These qualities make the essays included in this book perhaps the most graceful and moving presentation of the freethinker's position since the days of Hume and Voltaire.
Password : VC5e4R2

Science, Technology and Culture

This book introduces students to cultural studies of science and technology. It equips students with an understanding of science and technology as aspects of culture, and an appreciation of the importance of thinking about science and technology from a cultural studies perspective. Individual chapters focus on topics including popular representations of science and scientists, the place of science and technology in everyday life, and the contests over amateur, fringe and pseudo-science. Each chapter includes case studies ranging from the MMR vaccine to UFOs, and from nuclear war to microwave ovens. It is suitable for students in cultural studies, media studies, sociology and science and technology studies.

MOOLAADE - Documentary

MoolaadĂ©, a powerful and uncompromising film by 81-year old Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, depicts the clash between entrenched cultural and religious tradition and modern secular  society over the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) in a West African village. Practiced mainly on girls between the ages of four and eight, FGM refers to the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia as a means of reducing a woman's desire for sex and the chances that they will have sex outside of marriage. According to Amnesty International, an estimated 135 million women have undergone genital mutilation, and two million a year are at risk - approximately 6,000 per day. A procedure that has been performed for over 2000 years, it is normally done without the care of medically trained people and may lead to death, serious infection, HIV, depression, or gynecological complications.

Evolution v1.0 (game)

Be a part of the food chain in Evolution! Under the sea, you are a fish with little to do but eat and defend. Begin by eating chums until you’ve evolved your way from microscopic to amphibious! As you grow, woo a mate and start a family. But beware! Even when you think you’ve done it all, there’s always someone bigger around the corner to eat you alive! Evolution projects the fun and strategy of an arcade game into the majestically illuminated depths of the ocean through to the murky swamp waters of the eerie Everglades. Enjoy 35 levels with 12 power-up abilities as you eat your way to the top!

Darwin and Evolution for Kids

Darwin and Evolution for Kids traces the transformation of a privileged and somewhat scatterbrained youth into the great thinker who proposed the revolutionary theory of evolution. Through 21 hands-on activities, young scientists learn about Darwin’s life and work and assess current evidence of evolution. Activities include going on a botanical treasure hunt, keeping field notes as a backyard naturalist, and tying knots for ship sails like those on the HMS Beagle. Children also learn how fossils are created, trace genetic traits through their family trees, and discover if acquired traits are passed along to future generations. By encouraging children, parents, and teachers to define the differences between theories and beliefs, facts and opinions, Darwin and Evolution for Kids does not shy away from a theory that continues to spark heated public debate more than a century after it was first proposed.

Evolution: A Scientific American Reader

A first-rate summary of the actual science of evolution, this Scientific American reader is a timely collection that gives readers an opportunity to consider evolution’s impact in various settings.

Divided into four sections that consider the evolution of the universe, cells, dinosaurs, and humans, Evolution brings together more than thirty articles written by some of the world’s most respected evolutionary scientists. As tour guides through the genesis of the universe and complex cells, P. James E. Peebles examines the evidence in support of an expanding cosmos, while Christian de Duve discusses the birth of eukaryotes. In an article that anticipated his book Full House, Stephen Jay Gould argues that chance and contingency are as important as natural selection for evolutionary change. And Ian Tatersall makes two fascinating contributions, submitting his view that the schematic of human evolution looks less like a ladder and more like a bush.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Big Bang Theory

This compelling book describes how the Big Bang theory arose, how it has evolved, and why it is the best theory so far to explain the current state of the universe. In addition to understanding the birth of the cosmos, readers will learn how the theory stands up to challenges and what it fails to explain. Karen Fox provides clear answers to some of the hardest questions including: Why was the Big Bang theory accepted to begin with? Will the Big Bang theory last into the next century or even the next decade? Is the theory at odds with new scientific findings? One of the most well-known theories in modern science, the Big Bang is the most accurate model yet devised in humanity’s tireless serach for the ultimate moment of creation. The Big Bang Theory is the first title in a planned series on the major theories of modern science.

The Female Brain

This comprehensive new look at the hormonal roller coaster that rules women's lives down to the cellular level, "a user's guide to new research about the female brain and the neurobehavioral systems that make us women," offers a trove of information, as well as some stunning insights. Though referenced like a work of research, Brizedine's writing style is fully accessible. Brizendine provides a fascinating look at the life cycle of the female brain from birth ("baby girls will connect emotionally in ways that baby boys don't") to birthing ("Motherhood changes you because it literally alters a woman's brain-structurally, functionally, and in many ways, irreversibly") to menopause (when "the female brain is nowhere near ready to retire") and beyond. At the same time, Brizedine is not above reviewing the basics: "We may think we're a lot more sophisticated than Fred or Wilma Flintstone, but our basic mental outlook and equipment are the same." While this book will be of interest to anyone who wonders why men and women are so different, it will be particularly useful for women and parents of girls.

Why Girls Can’t Throw: …and Other Questions You Always Wanted Answered

Are you perplexed by the mysteries of the universe, confounded by the workings of the human body, prone to pondering the great imponderables? At long last, the answers are here for every inquiring mind that’s not afraid to face up to the cold, hard facts of life. The author who brought you That Book . . . of Perfectly Useless Information now addresses the quirky, the eclectic, and the essential conundrums of our age in Why Girls Can’t Throw . . . and Other Questions You Always Wanted Answered, including:

What’s the kindest way to tell a friend he has halitosis?
Is it cheaper to send yourself as a package to Australia rather than fly on an airplane?
Are there any benefits to smoking?
Is it true that Keith Richards used to regularly replace all the blood in his body?

Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science (Audiobook)

John Gribbin, one of the world’s great popularizers of science, is that rare creature, a scientist blessed with the ability to explain complex subject matter in a way which is comprehensible to non-scientists. Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science is an essential book for the reader who is interested in science but doesn’t know where to start. Gribbin gives a broad overview of physics and biology, starting with the atom before building up to larger objects: humans, the earth, the solar systemand the universe. He also explains how scientific concepts are linked together–what evolutionary theory has to say about the way we think, how chaotic uncertainty and quantum uncertainty affect each other, and how sub-atomic particles came into being in the big bang.

If you’ve been baffled by the debates between Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins, or Daniel Dennett and Roger Penrose, then this is the book to read. Gribbin, a Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex, will show you where the world finds itself 400 years after Gallileo.

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism

In this volume, eighteen of the worlds leading scholars present original essays on various aspects of atheism: its history, both ancient and modern, defense and implications. The topic is examined in terms of its implications for a wide range of disciplines including philosophy, religion, feminism, postmodernism, sociology and psychology. In its defense, both classical and contemporary theistic arguments are criticized, and, the argument from evil, and impossibility arguments, along with a non religious basis for morality are defended. These essays give a broad understanding of atheism and a lucid introduction to this controversial topic.

The Void

Aristotle famously wrote that nature abhors a vacuum, but as Oxford physicist Close illustrates in this concise study, that depends on what you mean by a vacuum or a void. Greek and medieval philosophers gave philosophical arguments against the existence of the void, but an artificial vacuum was finally created in 1643 and quickly used to investigate atmospheric pressure. Scientific exploration of a vacuum's properties and applications took off in the 19th century, although ancient ideas like the concept of an ether that pervaded empty space masqueraded as serious science until Einstein explained them away via relativity. Close (Lucifer's Legacy) is a particle physicist at heart, and he hits his stride as he explains why scientists now don't think a void is really empty at all, but is teeming with particles popping in and out of existence and pervaded by a contemporary version of the ether, called the Higgs field

Nature's Clocks: How Scientists Measure the Age of Almost Everything

When most people read about dating an ancient artifact, we think of carbon-14 dating. But as earth scientist Macdougall (Frozen Earth) tells readers, carbon dating works only if the object contains carbon, and then it can't be more than about 50,000 years old. Many other elements are radioactive, allowing, for example, for a potassium-argon dating system of volcanic and Precambrian rocks, and other applications in studying archeology and human evolution. Macdougall says that scientists have used these various radiometric dating systems for research as far-flung as dating the age of the solar system, figuring out when humans immigrated to the North America and when the Neanderthals died out, determining that a huge tsunami was created by a massive earthquake off the Northwest Pacific Coast in 1700 and nailing down the age of the Shroud of Turin (it dates to the Middle Ages, though controversy persists). Science buffs from all fields along with general readers will find this a helpful handbook on how we are now able to travel to the distant past

Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds

Censorship of religious and philosophical speculation is as old as history and as current as today's headlines. Many of the world's major religious texts, including the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran, and others, have been suppressed, condemned, or proscribed at some time. Works of secular  literature touching upon religious belief or reflecting dissenting views have also been suppressed. "Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds, Revised Edition" profiles the censorship of many such essential works of civilization. The 14 entries new to this edition include extensive coverage of the "Harry Potter" series, which has been frequently banned in the United States on the grounds that it promotes witchcraft, as well as entries on two popular textbook series, "The Witches" by Roald Dahl, "Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran", and more.

Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Distance Healing to Vitamin O

This book, by joke writer and science writer Christopher Wanjek, explains "Bad Medicine." He does not define this term but upon reading his book, it seems that it is medicine that does not have a rational cure for disease. By implication then, "Good Medicine" is medicine that does have a rational cure for disease. Wanjek implies that traditional medicine as it is practiced today with surgery, radiation, and drugs is good medicine. This book has seven parts that encompass more than forty easy to read very brief chapters.

Homosexuality and Religion: An Encyclopedia

Few issues today cause more public—and private—debate than the interaction of homosexuality and religion. From the question of gay marriage to the place of gays and lesbians within faith communities, religious leaders and lay members must deal with these issues for now and for years to come. What is the historical position of the major denominations? How are people of faith balancing their beliefs? This encyclopedia provides an overview of the various attitudes and responses that religions have had to the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons within their communities. This is the most comprehensive volume to date on the intersections between religion and homosexuality.

Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia

Science Fact and Science Fiction examines in one volume how science has propelled science-fiction and, to a lesser extent, how science fiction has influenced the sciences. Although coverage will discuss the science behind the fiction from the Classical Age to the present, focus is naturally on the 19th century to the present, when the Industrial Revolution and spectacular progress in science and technology triggered an influx of science-fiction works speculating on the future. As scientific developments alter expectations for the future, the literature absorbs, uses, and adapts such contextual visions. The goal of the Encyclopedia is not to present a catalog of sciences and their application in literary fiction, but rather to study the ongoing flow andcounterflow of influences, including how fictional representations of science affect how we view its practice and disciplines.

When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law

Relying on religious traditions that are as old as their faith itself, many devout Christians turn to prayer rather than medicine when their children fall victim to illness or injury. Faith healers claim that their practices are effective in restoring health - more effective, they say, than modern medicine. But, over the past century, hundreds of children have died after being denied the basic medical treatments furnished by physicians because of their parents' intense religious beliefs. The tragic deaths of these youngsters have received intense scrutiny from both the news media and public authorities seeking to protect the health and welfare of children. When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law is the first book to fully examine the complex web of legal and ethical questions that arise when criminal prosecutions are mounted against parents whose children die as a result of the phenomenon known by experts as religion-based medical neglect.

(Personally, I think parents who let their children die because of the filth that is their "religion", should be charged with manslaughter. No exceptions!)

BBC Horizon - A War on Science

In 2005, the school board of Dover, a small farming community in western Pennsylvania, became the first in America to adopt the theory of intelligent design. The move divided the community and the small town became the centre of national attention. The school board voted to teach the ninth grade biology class that there are gaps and problems with the theory of evolution and to present intelligent design as an alternative. Dover science teacher Bryan Rehm and his wife Christy believed that this new policy was not only anti-science, but religious and therefore unconstitutional.
By promoting religion it was a violation of the law passed in 1987. The Rehms and nine other parents and teachers filed a law suit against the school board. Neighbour was pitted against neighbour in the first legal challenge to intelligent design.

After 40 days of trial, Judge John E Jones III ruled against the school board, stating: "We have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."

Evolution supporters heralded this victory as the damning blow to the intelligent design movement. However, as history shows, law suits have little effect on the support for creationism in a country where over 50% of citizens believe that God created humans in their present form, the way the bible describes it.

A Concealed God: Religion, Science, and the Search for Truth

A highly concealed god poses two intriguing questions? Does god truly exist? If so, is the concept of god logical and in agreement with the knowledge of the world that science  has provided to date? The god presented by most religions doesn't make sense in today's world; we have little room for miracles. Furthermore, there are irreconcilable aspects in the world's religions. Must we abandon our faith or belief in god? Perhaps not, says popular Swedish thinker Stefan Einhorn. We can behave as scientists do when they run experiments only to obtain contradictory results. They ask themselves whether there might not be a logical conclusion that binds all the results together and leads to the most probable explanation. Einhorn hypothesises that if god truly exists, then many different religions would have discovered this. He finds a common denominator in the concept of a hidden god in seven major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. But even with this shared belief, can we know if god exists? Did humankind create the idea of god to answer the unexplainable?

The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless

An examination of Infinity — in history and science — with excursions into literature, philosophy and religion, written by one of the most successful writers of popular science.

Infinity is surely the strangest idea that humans have ever thought. Where did it come from and what is it telling us about our Universe? Can there actually be infinities? Or is infinity just a label for something that is never reached, no matter how long you go on counting? Can you do an infinite number of things in a finite amount of time? Is the universe infinite?

But infinity is also the place where things happen that don’t. All manner of strange paradoxes and fantasies characterize an infinite universe. So what is it like to live in a Universe where nothing is original, where you can live forever, where anything that can be done, is done, over and over again?
These are some of the deep questions that the idea of the Infinite pushes us to ask. Throughout history, the Infinite has been a dangerous idea.

Many have lost their lives, their careers, or their freedom for talking about it. The Infinite Book will take you on a tour of these dangerous questions and the strange answers that scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and theologians have come up with to deal with its threats to our sanity.

Julia Sweeney’s - Letting Go Of God - Live DVDrip

Equally comedic and insightful, Letting Go of God  is Sweeney’s brilliant one-woman show about her struggle with her faith. Grappling with the seeming contradictions in Adam and Eve, Noah, the Ten Commandments, and even the teachings of Jesus - and trying to understand the Bible’s messages about morality, family values, and human suffering while faced with door-knocking Mormons and wise-cracking priests - Sweeney takes listeners on her very personal journey from God to “not-God”.

This performance was recorded on November 19, 2005, at the Ars Nova Theatre in New York City.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)

An exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the U.S. and how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to stigmatize the gay community. We meet five Christian families, each with a gay or lesbian child. Parents talk about their marriages and church-going, their children's childhood and coming out, their reactions, and changes over time. The stories told by these nine parents and four adult children alternate with talking heads - Protestant and Jewish theologians - and with film clips of fundamentalist preachers and pundits and news clips of people in the street. They discuss scripture and biblical scholarship.

A thesis of the film is that much of Christianity's homophobia represents a misreading of scripture, a denial of science, and an embrace of quack psychology.

Richard Dawkins - The Greatest Show On Earth (audiobook)

Richard Dawkins is probably one of the most well known proponents of Evolution today. He is either held in high regard or subject to considerable loathing, depending on your view of evolution. This book has one clear aim - to present the evidence for evolution in a simple, but not compromised fashion, so that it can be held up against the claims made by those who would deny its importance, or even its occurrence. In this regard the book is an overwhelming success.

In a logical fashion Dawkins steps through such topics as "what do we mean by a theory", dating methods for fossils, missing links (and if there are such things), plate tectonics and its influence on plant and animal distribution, embryology and molecular genetics and evolution. Each chapter adds another layer to the evidence for Evolution. Where other scientific understanding is required it is provided. For example, there is a short description of the classic atomic models needed to understand the dating methods used on geological samples. The best chapters are the final two, and this is not to say the ones before are not of an extremely high standard. The penultimate chapter addresses Evolutionary Arms races, with a clear emphasis on predator prey relationships, while the final chapter unpacks a paragraph from the original version of On the Origin of Species to show how far reaching and advanced Darwin's thinking was at the time of its publication.

Dawkins is clear, if possibly optimistic, in his aim to address this book at those who find evolution difficult, for I doubt they will read this book. He terms these people "the history-deniers" in a clear allusion to the controversies in the study of recent History, where despite incontrovertible evidence people still deny the occurrences of certain events.

In his last book Dawkins addressed religious belief in a way that clearly conveyed his rage, but somehow seem to lack subtly. While this is not the case here, the book does contain more than enough characteristic barbs to delight (or enrage!) readers already familiar with his previous writing. He helps the reader at every stage, even to the point of suggesting you should not read particular sections if you are tired! But it is in one single passage, where he casually mentions that you should see the Redwoods of California before you die, that his passion shines through most strongly and clearly.

Here you see his wonder for a world full of remarkable diversity, all brought about by a process that is deceptively simple - evolution through natural selection. This is a timely book that should be read by anybody who has an interest in understanding the world as it actually is. This is the best single account of the evidence for evolution

Science Channel - Sci-Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible (2010) [Complete Series]

Explore the world of the seemingly impossible with the all-new series SCI FI SCIENCE. Hosted by internationally-renowned physicist and co-founder of string field theory, Dr. Michio Kaku, this series poses the idea that science fiction may not be so far from science fact.

Examine topics that currently seem so far out of the realm of possibility, such as invisibility cloaks, teleportation, time travel and more.

1. How To Explore The Universe
2. How To Travel To A Parallel Universe
3. How To Blow Up A Planet
4. How To Teleport
5. How To Become Invisible
6. How To Travel Through.Time
7. How to Build a Starship
8. How to Build a Light.Saber
9. How to Build a Sci Fi Robot
10. How to Become a Superhero
11. How to Build a Flying Saucer
12. How to Build a Force Field

Ben Kama - So Strange (video)

Not entirely proven science, but saw this little video on Youtube (as Im partial to a bit of DNB) and thought Id stick it in here :)

Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk

Recent polls suggest that fewer than 40 percent of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, despite it being one of science’s best-established findings. More and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, though this link can been consistently disproved. And about 40 percent of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite near consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real.

Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and—borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham—the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a “taxonomy of bunk” that explores the intersection of science and culture at large.

No one—not the public intellectuals in the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science nor the believers of pseudoscience themselves—is spared Pigliucci’s incisive analysis. In the end, Nonsense on Stilts is a timely reminder of the need to maintain a line between expertise and assumption. Broad in scope and implication, it is also ultimately a captivating guide for the intelligent citizen who wishes to make up her own mind while navigating the perilous debates that will affect the future of our planet.

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)

Focusing on what other books omit, how science works and how pseudoscience works, Matt Young and Paul K. Strode demonstrate the futility of "scientific" creationism. They debunk the notion of intelligent design and other arguments that show evolution could not have produced life in its present form. Concluding with a frank discussion of science and religion, Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) argues that science by no means excludes religion, though it ought to cast doubt on certain religious claims that are contrary to known scientific fact.

Three Steps to the Universe: From the Sun to Black Holes to the Mystery of Dark Matter

If scientists can’t touch the Sun, how do they know what it’s made of? And if we can’t see black holes, how can we be confident they exist? Gravitational physicist David Garfinkle and his brother, science fiction writer Richard Garfinkle, tackle these questions and more in Three Steps to the Universe, a tour through some of the most complex phenomena in the cosmos and an accessible exploration of how scientists acquire knowledge about the universe through observation, indirect detection, and theory.
The authors begin by inviting readers to step away from the Earth and reconsider our Sun. What we can directly observe of this star is limited to its surface, but with the advent of telescopes and spectroscopy, scientists know more than ever about its physical characteristics, origins, and projected lifetime. From the Sun, the authors journey further out into space to explore black holes. The Garfinkle brothers explain that our understanding of these astronomical oddities began in theory, and growing mathematical and physical evidence has unexpectedly supported it. From black holes, the authors lead us further into the unknown, to the dark matter and energy that pervade our universe, where science teeters on the edge of theory and discovery. Returning from the depths of space, the final section of the book brings the reader back down to Earth for a final look at the practice of science, ending with a practical guide to discerning real science from pseudoscience among the cacophony of print and online scientific sources.

The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

As author of the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things How We Believe, and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer has emerged as the nation's number one scourg of superstition and bad science. Now, in The Borderlands of Science, he takes us to the place where real science (such as the big bang theory), borderland science (superstring theory) and just plain nonsense (Big Foot) collide with one another.

Shermer argues that science is the best lens through which to view the world, but he recognizes that it's often difficult for most of us to tell where valid science leaves off and borderland science begins. To help us, Shermer looks at a range of topics that put the boundary line in high relief. For instance, he discusses the many "theories of everything" that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle, and shows how most fall into the category of pseudoscience. He examines the work of Darwin and Freud, explaining why one is among the great scientists in history, while the other has become nothing more than a historical curiosity. He also shows how Carl Sagan's life exemplified the struggle we all face to find a balance between being open-minded enough to recognize radical new ideas but not so open-minded that our brains fall out. And finally, he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown Hoax.

Michael Shermer's enlightening volume will be a valuable a to anyone bewildered by the many scientific theories swirling about. It will help us stay grounded in common sense as we try to evaluate everything from SETI and acupuncture to hypnosis and cloning.

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools

More than eighty years after the Scopes trial, creationism is alive and well. Through local school boards, sympathetic politicians, and well-funded organizations, a strong movement has developed to encourage the teaching of the latest incarnation of creationism—intelligent design—as a scientifically credible theory alongside evolution in science classes. Although intelligent design suffered a serious defeat in the recent Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, its proponents are bound to continue their assault on evolution education. Now, in Not in Our Classrooms, parents and teachers, as well as other concerned citizens, have a much-needed tool to use in the argument against teaching intelligent design as science.

Where did the concept of intelligent design originate? How does it connect with, and conflict with, various religious beliefs? Should we teach the controversy itself in our science classrooms? In clear and lively essays, a team of experts answers these questions and many more, describing the history of the intelligent design movement and the lack of scientific support for its claims. Most importantly, the contributors—authorities on the scientific, legal, educational, and theological problems of intelligent design—speak specifically to teachers and parents about the need to defend the integrity of science education by keeping intelligent design out of science curriculums. A concluding chapter offers concrete advice for those seeking to defend the teaching of evolution in their own communities.

Not in Our Classrooms is essential reading for anyone concerned about defending the teaching of evolution, uncompromised by religiously motivated pseudoscience, in the classrooms of our public schools.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (video)

An introduction as to why science is everything.

Physics of the Impossible - A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

A fascinating exploration of the science of the impossible—from death rays and force fields to invisibility cloaks—revealing to what extent such technologies might be achievable decades or millennia into the future.

One hundred years ago, scientists would have said that lasers, televisions, and the atomic bomb were beyond the realm of physical possibility. In Physics of the Impossible, the renowned physicist Michio Kaku explores to what extent the technologies and devices of science fiction that are deemed equally impossible today might well become commonplace in the future.
This book is an enjoyable and informative primer...with wonderful cartoons by Sidney Harris that complement the text. -- Lawrence M. Krauss, author of Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond

Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction : Where Real Science Ends...and Pseudoscience Begins

"...succinct and jargon-free style... The strength of this book resides in such sparkling prose." -- Journal of the American Medical Association, April 3, 2002

"...worthy and well-meaning...readable and likeable..." -- THE SKEPTIC MAGAZINE, 2001

"Peppered with humorous cartoons of Sidney Harris...offers valuable tips for anyone pondering the shaky claims of bogus science." -- Stacey's Booksellers, Staff Review, November 2001

"Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction is a very approachable book on pseudoscientific subjects." -- Alberta Skeptics

"This is non-technical but very good. Unfortunately most Americans will be off reading pseudoscience trash rather than this." -- Leptonic's

"an excellent primer on Science and Pseudoscience, complete with a set of straightforward techniques for telling the difference between them." -- New England Skeptical Society

...the public has much to gain from the authors' contrast between the nature of scientific evidence and the stories of pseudoscience that fill the media. -- Dr. Arthur Eisenkraft, National Science Teachers Association

Here we have, in their book, a clearer look at the misconceptions and outright deceptions that plague us. Lots of sunlight, and a dash of disinfectant! -- James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi

Quantum Leaps is one of a far too small cluster of rational books that responds to 'voodoo science' issues such as UFO's, astrology, and other such nonsense. -- Leon M. Lederman, winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics

Monday, 23 August 2010

Welcome to this World (video)

One of my favourite videos of its kind. The brainwashing of our children in my mind is disgusting. It is nothing short of child abuse. No one should enforce their misguided faith onto any child. The whole idea should be outlawed. If, in your adult years, you decide you want to subscribe to some ancient mythology then thats up to you, but dont be forcefeeding the young with your claptrap.

Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science

"If a tree falls on a a scientist in a forest with no one else around does it mean he won't make a sound? Not if that scientist is the indomitable Bob Park, the skeptic's skeptic, the Ralph Nader of nonsense, the man who rose from the (nearly) dead to pen this uncompromising critique of superstition and the beliefs that follow once you abandon science and reason. Read this book. Now." Michael Shermer

File Size: 1.36 MB


Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons is a free 40 minute video introduction to critical thinking. It is suitable for general audiences and is licensed for free distribution and public display.

Most people fully accept paranormal and pseudoscientific claims without critique as they are promoted by the mass media. Here Be Dragons offers a toolbox for recognizing and understanding the dangers of pseudoscience, and appreciation for the reality-based benefits offered by real science.

Here Be Dragons is written and presented by Brian Dunning, host and producer of the Skeptoid podcast, author of Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena, and Executive Producer of The Skeptologists and Truth Hurts.

Complete Name : Here.Be.Dragons.m4v
Format : MPEG-4
File Size/String : 1.43 GB

You are not alone (video)

What Evolution Is

At age 97, Ernst Mayr is one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, and here he delivers yet another valuable addition to the field of evolutionary theory. Mayr, who was also a curator at the American Museum of Natural History for two decades, guides lay readers through evolutionary thought from the book of Genesis and creationist theory through Darwin's theories and "soft" evolution and on to more contemporary, inclusive concepts. He takes readers on a whirlwind voyage from the scala naturae (the Great Chain of Being, in which everything in the world was accorded a position in a developmental hierarchy) to Mayr's own work, which builds on Darwinian theory and environmental factors. No one but Mayr could explain evolution so well, and though the text is peppered with many scientific terms, overall the author is triumphant in his goal to teach "first and foremost... biologist or not, [anyone] who simply wants to know more about evolution." Publishers Weekly

Richard Dawkins - Faith School Menace

In this recent Channel4 feature, Richard Dawkins continues his battle against religious dogma discussing indoctrination of children and the divisive aspect of faith schools.

File Name ..........: Richard Dawkins' Age of Reason - Faith School Menace (2010).avi
Total Size (MB) ....: 350,17 MB
Video Length .......: 00:47:29

Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction

Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction is a step toward this goal, and readers will indeed learn a great deal about the scientific, religious, educational, political, and legal aspects of this controversy. Then those of us lucky enough to study evolution as a profession won’t be the only ones to appreciate this fascinating field of study." -- Niles Eldredge, the American paleontologist who published punctuated equilibrium theory along with Stephen Jay Gould

Provides one-stop shopping for students, parents, and teachers who want to know more about all aspects of the evolution-creationism controversy. Amazon

File size: 6.6 MB


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Protest the Pope!

Why “Protest the Pope”?

The diverse groups who support this campaign have many different reasons for not approving of the State Visit to the UK by the Pope in September 2010. They all however share the following view:

    * That the Pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country.
    * However, as well as a religious leader, the Pope is a head of state and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for:
         1. opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
         2. promoting segregated education
         3. denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women
         4. opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people
         5. failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
         6. rehabilitating the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.
    * The state of which the Pope is the head has also resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own treaties (‘concordats’) with many states which negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states.
    * As a head of state, the Pope is an unsuitable guest of the UK government and should not be accorded the honour and recognition of a state visit to the UK.

If you believe, as we do, that the Pope should not come to the UK without hearing from the millions of people who reject his harsh, intolerant views and the practices and policies of the Vatican State please get involved.

Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial

Prince Charles is a staunch defender and millions of people swear by it; most UK doctors consider it to be little more than superstition and a waste of money. Welcome to the world of alternative medicine.

In Trick or Treatment? the truth about the efficacy of alternative medicine is rigorously addressed for the first time by the scientist uniquely qualified to do so: Professor Edzard Ernst, the world’s first professor of complementary medicine. Having spent over a decade at Exeter University meticulously analyzing the bewildering evidence for and against alternative therapies, this former practitioner of both traditional and complementary medicine brings no bias to the subject.

Writing with him is the respected science writer, Simon Singh, who also brings his considerable scientific knowledge and scrupulous impartiality to this most controversial subject. Together, they deliver a hard-hitting, yet honest examination of more than thirty of the most popular treatments, such as Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Chiropractic and Herbal medicines.

Whether you are an ardent follower, sceptic or just plain baffled by the subject, Trick or Treatment? is a groundbreaking guide which finally lays to rest the doubts and contradictions that have dogged this subject for so long. Written with authority, integrity and clarity, this book delivers the ultimate verdict on alternative medicine.