Friday, November 30, 2012

The Apocalypse Is Upon Us

So... December 2012 is almost here and we have measly 21 days to go. As we all know on December 21, 2012, we are all toast!

You don't believe it? Have you seen the movie 2012? It was all there, with detailed explanations for every little disaster that will occur in just a few weeks. If you don't trust Hollywood, you surely would trust the SCIENTISTS!!! I mean, the books were all well researched and full of scientific language. And if that was not enough, what about all your friends, who told you about the terrible things that were to happen in 2012, about building bunkers, and buying survival gear? They surely must have been right?

We are only three weeks away from the final date, but I'm still making plans for the weekend of the 22nd. Can the Earth be destroyed on December 21st? Sure, there are plenty of ways for this to happen, as nicely described in Philip Plait's book "Death from the Skies!", but I would not bet on them, as the odds are pretty slim (on the other hand, say that to the dinosaurs). If we want to see the real Apocalypse, we need to wait 4 - 5 billion years for the Sun to turn this planet into a burnt out cinder (hey, NASA, time to get to work, and find us a new place to live).

The reality is that, as always (think May 21, 2011 and the "Apocalypse of Mr. Camping"), all the fear mongering is purely done for profit: books, movies, lectures, and don't forget big donations for churches and cults that spread the crazy news. As long as enough people fall for it, because they think people a few thousand years ago knew more about our universe than we do now, it'll continue, and I'm sure on December 22nd, 2012, we'll hear of a new date that will bring fire and brimstone to our little, insignificant planet.

In the meantime, I think we should start worrying about our own human-made apocalypses, like the global warming. Hurricane Sandy gave us a preview of what's to come, and given the latest news ("Rapidly melting polar ice raises concerns of rising seas", "Climate Change Threatens Long-Term Sustainability of Great Plains", and "This Drought's No Dry Run: Lessons Of The Dust Bowl"), and the current simulations ("What Could Disappear"), our children and grandchildren are not looking at a bright future.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Do We Pick Idiots To Run Our Country?

Yes, I agree it's rather harsh to say that, but after Florida's very own senator, Marco Rubio said this:
I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.
in an interview for GQ, as an answer to the question about the age of the Earth, the only two choices are:

1. Crackpot.
2. Liar, who knows the real and scientific answer, but lies to all of us for political reasons.

I admit, #2 is very probable for any politician, but I also want to believe that nobody would consciously and purposefully, expose himself or herself to this kind of ridicule, so I'll stick with my initial assessment.

Let me point to an excellent Bad Astronomy blog, for an expanded explanation of why we all should start picking our government representatives a bit more carefully: they are elected to make decisions that are very complex, require critical thinking skills and can affect all of us (and sometimes even the world). Of course, this is not new and not even rare, especially from the politicians on the right (a.k.a. the Republicans). The scary part is that Rubio is considered a "rising star" in the Republican Party and we might have to endure his misguided views more than we care for.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Finally, the 2012 Election is Over

I'm very glad the crazy political season in America is over. This time around it was especially annoying, with all the adds and calls and e-mails, and just plain insanity of pushing one candidate over the other (and that's not to mention all the local political ads that were equally bad, if not worse).

I'm also very happy with local Florida voters overwhelmingly rejecting a few constitutional amendments, including misguided Amendment 8, which, despite its name (Florida Religious Freedom Amendment), was not about religious freedom, but rather about tax dollars funding religious activities. Amendment 6 also went down in flames and for good reasons, as it was injecting politics into personal health care issues.

Generally speaking, while it's good to see reason and critical thinking winning (I'm glad our president will not be making important decisions peering into a magic hat), it's still pretty scary to see that "unreason" can be sold to almost 50% of the nation, hook, line and sinker.

I also hope that, after highly political campaign, when some issues could not be mentioned, out of fear of loosing precious votes, we might finally deal with problems like global warming, especially since the Hurricane Sandy clearly showed us what direction our planet is heading.

Now, it's time to move on to more important things, like everyday skepticism and fighting lack of critical thinking in our lives.