Happy Valentine's Day from Mars

A heart-shaped feature in the Arabia Terra region of Mars.
A heart-shaped feature in the Arabia Terra region of Mars is show on the left, with additional context on the right, in excerpts of an image taken by the Context Camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

› Full image and caption (Left image) | › Full image and caption (Right image)


Tweet of the day – Darwin Day

Some tweets cause a stir. On Darwin Day this one did.


Oh! #Evolution is only a theory, you say? I hope you feel the same way about Gravity and float the heck off. #atheism #atheist #DarwinDaySat Feb 12 17:12:36 via SocialScope


This is the Twitter link in case you want to retweet it, too.

Happy Darwin Day!

As many of you know, I was born in a really cool day. I happen to share my birthday with Charles Darwin and Abe Lincoln. How cool is that!

This year we have yet another reason to call it a special day. Although it’s a sad day for those who think that “if evolution were true, god would have mentioned it when he wrote the bible” Right? Right? NOT!

Representative Pete Stark proposed H. Res 81 to Congress, expressing support for designation of February 12, 2011, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity. This resolution is a culmination of collaboration between Representative Stark, 2008 Humanist of the Year, and the American Humanist Association.

In a statement, Representative Stark said, “Darwin’s birthday is a good time for us to reflect on the important role of science in our society. It is also a time to redouble our efforts to ensure that children are being taught scientific facts, not religious dogma, and to fight back against those who seek to undermine the science of climate change for political ends.”

This resolution could not have come at a more important time. The New York Times recently reported that only 28 percent of biology teachers present evidence for evolution as recommended by the National Research Council, while 13 percent “explicitly advocate” creationism. Furthermore, with climate change quickly gaining speed, and anti-environment regulation law-makers denying its impact, a true grasp of science is the strongest defense against global warming.

You can read the text of the resolution in its entirety here.

Let’s celebrate!

These are some very, very good suggestions on how to celebrate my birthday…err, Darwin Day, but whatever you do, celebrate life today.

Happy Birthday Chuck and Abe…. and me!

Happy Darwin Day everyone!

First Ever STEREO Images of the Entire Sun

“This is a big moment in solar physics,” says Vourlidas. “STEREO has revealed the sun as it really is–a sphere of hot plasma and intricately woven magnetic fields.”

Launched in October 2006, STEREO traces the flow of energy and matter from the sun to Earth. It also provides unique and revolutionary views of the sun-Earth system. STEREO, when paired with SDO, can now give us the first complete view of the sun’s entire surface and atmosphere. Read more at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ste…

Got questions about STEREO? Ask a scientist via @NASAGoddard on Twitter on Wed., Feb. 9, 2011, from 1:302:30 pm EST. Use hashtag #sun360.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10718

An artist's concept of STEREO surrounding the sun. Credit: NASA

Read the entire article at NASA’s website

Skepticism: A Brief Insight

Guest post by GregGorey

For those of you who do not know me, I am a skeptical blogger, father, vegetarian, and the new host of ThinkAtheist Radio. Academically, I am a trained historian (finishing my masters), an amateur philosopher (with +30 undergrad hours), and a future scientist (I am going back to school in January 2012 for physics). Since I am a skeptic, I wrote this post as a “quick and dirty” summary of skepticism. It is nowhere near complete, but it does hit most of the big ideas. If you enjoy it and want to dig deeper, please stop by my twitter or visit my personal blog.

Over evolutionary history, man evolved a belief engine. This engine helped us survive by recognizing meaningful patterns. The problem is, this engine also “connects the dots” when there is no connection to be made. Since this mostly leads to positions that will not get us killed, it persists. There is even evidence for this behavior having some short term benefits, such as lower stress (Shermer, XXIV).

You may be thinking, “so what’s the harm?” The harm is that superstition not only takes your money, but it produces dangerous beliefs. Anti-vaccination hysteria and faith based medicine are not only stupid, they are lethal and cause deep societal harm.

Even worse, our society is filled with such excrement. As Harry Frankfurt said, “one of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it (Frankfurt, 1).”

So are we hopelessly superstitious and doomed to bad beliefs? I, like other skeptics, do not think so. It seems that our our belief engine can be fine-tuned to think skeptically. There is plenty of evidence that suggests critical thinking is learnable (Shermer, XXV). This skepticism is just the thing we need to spot bullshit from a mile away.
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