Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Latest Skeptic's Guide Goes Mesozoic

The September 4 episode of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe features discussion of a few topics relevant to this here blog. In their news segment, the rogues - as the panel of skeptics likes to refer to themselves - cover two recent studies about extinction. First, they discuss the new study looking at the Boltysh crater, located in the Ukraine. Reporting in the newest issue of the journal Geology, David Jolley and his co-authors suggest that the impact happened only a few thousand years before the famous Chixculub event, as evidenced by the regrowth and subsequent wiping out of ferns at the site. The rogues then turn their attention to the new study which refutes the hypothesis that a comet is to blame for the extinction of ice age North American megafauna 13,000 years ago.

On this second story, host Steve Novella complains that too often, news outlets report each study in an ongoing scientific argument as "fact." A comet killed the mammoths! A comet did not kill the mammoths! No, a comet did kill the mammoths! My favorite example of this is the debate over which is healthier, margarine or butter. You know, first one is preferable, then the other, then back to the first, and so on. I'd bet that it's a big cause of the public's weariness with science: "Those knuckleheaded science-types can't make up their minds!" Novella raises a good point that this sort of reporting does a disservice to the people it's supposed to educate.

Then, the episode features an interview with Donald Prothero, who has written a whole bunch on dinosaurs, evolution, and paleontology.

In other podcasting news, NPR's Science Friday touched on Balaur bondoc last week, featuring the new dromaeosaur on their video pick of the week. For your convenience:

1 comment:

  1. Mammoths, margarine, all so confusing. I remember growing up and not knowing what to think about eggs. First they were part of a balanced breakfast. Then they were banned from my house because they contributed to high cholesterol. Then all of a sudden, they were incredible, and edible, and I was hearing all about how I should eat them during my Saturday morning cartoons. What's a growing boy to do!?

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