The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is a vastly complex endeavour. But it’s an empirical endeavour — it requires valid and reliable measurement and scanning methods, and an ability to objectively verify and triangulate all incoming data in order to draw logical conclusions about where to look next. For example, the latest wave of efforts appear to be benefiting hugely from satellite imagery, and we can only hope this helps investigators to quickly solve this tragic mystery.
Of course, the fact that it is a tragedy is no barrier to the crass minds of contemporary pseudoscientists. So we end up with this abomination, on CNN of all places:
CNN, I tells ya (Pic: Screengrab from video on Mediaite.com)
Yes. It’s a psychic. Continue reading “The passengers on MH370 deserve better than this”
Here’s a classic science communication fiasco. Many of us believe empiricism enables the resolution of uncertainty with data, and that more information is better than less. That’s why we do science.
One of the moral imperatives that drive us is that carefully scrutinized, systematically replicable, and objectively verifiable information trumps hearsay. It allows us to dispel rumour and prejudice by offering tangible evidence as the alternative. It may be a slow process, but gradually we crawl towards enlightenment. And so we become a better species.
A classic illustration of the reasons why is vaccination. Scaremongers who spread misinformation about vaccination — such as the vastly researched and now thoroughly debunked claim that MMR vaccination causes autism — can be refuted simply by presenting the contrary facts, backed up with data. Right?
Well, as it turns out, wrong. Continue reading “Telling parents how vaccines are safe makes them *less* likely to vaccinate their kids”
I’m travelling to China in the morning, on some university work in Hong Kong and Shantou. It takes two days to travel between here and there, and I’ll be away for 8 days. So yes, I’ll be spending half my time in transit. I’ve been doing some preparatory reading. Here’s a nice piece from today’s Huffington Post: “How to Survive a Plane Crash.”
Essentially, the steps are easy to follow:
1. Keep Your Shoes and Socks On
For fear that you might need to “run over sharp debris and fire” no less. Running over fire? Doesn’t sound good. Continue reading “How to Survive a Plane Crash (Non-survival also a possibility)”