Episode 90: “Resonance: Beings of Frequency”

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Ashlyn, Ian, and Laura discuss some terrible films (and one that’s pretty good), including “Resonance: Beings of Frequency”, a YouTube film that rivals “Thrive” in the contest for most misleading documentary.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Resonance: Beings of Frequency | Schumann resonances (Wikipedia) | Alpha wave (Wikipedia) | Electroencephalography (Wikipedia) | Electromagnetic fields and public health (WHO) | WiFi and Cell Phones: Should You Really Be Worried? (The Winnipeg Skeptics) | Investigation of Anti-WiFi Activism in Canada (Bad Science Watch) | Bees, CCD, and Cell phones: Still no Link. (Bug Girl’s Blog) | Guest Post: Honey bees, CCD, and the Elephant in the Room (Bug Girl’s Blog) | The Coming Beepocalypse (Bug Girl’s Blog) | SkeptiCamp Winnipeg: Self-Proclaimed Diet Gurus and the Shams They Peddle (The Winnipeg Skeptics) | An Honest Liar (2014) (IMDb) | Hungry for Change (2012) (IMDb) | Left Behind (2014) (IMDb)

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed

Advertisements

Episode 49: Robots! Part 2!

Episode 49: Robots! Part 2!

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman, Richelle McCullough, Greg Christensen, and Mark Forkheim talk about the robot apocalypse and how robots are portrayed in fiction. This episode also features the second part of our interview with Human Robot Interaction researcher Derek Cormier.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Episode 29: Zombies! Part 1! | Episode 32: Zombies! Part 2! | “Grey Goo” Scenario | Robot Toddler Could Unlock Secrets of Human Development | Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics | What If? The Robot Apocalypse | Why I Am No Longer a Christian | Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

What Are You Reading? The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood | Rapture of the Nerds, by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross | Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens | The Missionary Position, by Christopher Hitchens | This Book Is Full of Spiders, by David Wong/Jason Pargin | A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson | Sundiver, by David Brin | Losing My Religion, by William Lobdell | The Demon Haunted World, by Carl Sagan | Flatland, Edwin Abbott Abbott

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Episode 48: Robots! Part 1!

Episode 48: Robots! Part 1!

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman, Richelle McCullough, Greg Christensen, and Mark Forkheim talk about robots: specifically, about how they will eventually take over the world. This episode also features an interview with Human Robot Interaction researcher Derek Cormier.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Episode 29: Zombies! Part 1! | Episode 32: Zombies! Part 2! | “Grey Goo” Scenario | Robot Toddler Could Unlock Secrets of Human Development | Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics | Milgram Experiment

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Winnipeg Sun Coverage of the “Mayan Apocalypse”

No, the world isn’t ending today. Sorry to disappoint. But the Winnipeg Sun has quite the spread on the subject of the “Mayan” notpocalypse, this morning. I was contacted earlier in the week by two different journalists from the Sun who were writing stories about the (non-)event, and they’d heard about our party.

(By the way: in case you hadn’t heard, the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba are hosting a joint “End of the World” party tonight at the Assiniboine Golf Club at 2045 Ness Avenue. We’re starting the evening off at 7:00 with an apocalypse-themed pub quiz, followed by music, dancing, and general merriment! There’ll be food, a cash bar, and a silent auction. Tickets are $15, and there will be a few available at the door.)

You can find the Winnipeg Sun articles here:
Manitobans ready for apocalypse, by Joyanne Pursaga
Don’t blame the Mayans for apocalypse, by Tessa Vanderhart

Since space is limited in print media, I knew that only a few of the points that I made in the interviews would see the light of day, so I figured that I might as well share the answers to some of the questions that I was asked here:

Why are you skeptical that the world will end Friday?
The first rule of skepticism is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in this case there is good reason to disbelieve. First, while the thirteenth b’ak’tun of the ancient Mesoamerican long-count calendar does end on Friday, there’s little reason to think that the Mayans actually believed the world would end on that day. (When your calendar runs out, you don’t think it’s the end of the world: you get a new calendar.) Second, even if Mayans did believe this, there’s no reason to think that they’d be right. Third, every single proposed mechanism by which the world might end has been handily debunked by scientists in the appropriate fields (NASA has a web page devoted to it, for example). And finally, given the absolutely staggering number of actual end of the world predictions that have come and gone uneventfully, I think that we’re pretty safe.

As a skeptic, how do you think the world will end (assuming it will, some day)?
That’s a hard question to answer. If you’re taking a human-centric view, then I’m rather concerned about both environmental degradation and international conflict. I think that the planet will probably outlast us well enough, but given enough time some astronomical calamity is almost certain to do the Earth in, be it an asteroid, a gamma ray burst, or the eventual expansion of the sun into a red giant, 5 billion years from now. Those interested in ways the world could end would do well to take a look at astronomer Phil Plait’s book Death from the Skies.

Is there any goal to the party or just a get together in itself?
Simple good cheer is the primary purpose, to be honest. Sharing a drink and a laugh with other members of the community is the way many people choose to spend their time during the holiday season, and the “non-event” of the supposed Mayan Apocalypse makes a convenient focal point for the festivities. And although I doubt many people are seriously worried about it, the party should add some levity to the “doom and gloom” that people might otherwise expect from discussions surrounding the apocalypse.

Can people who think that the world might end attend the party?
Of course! Hopefully they’ll find it reassuring. They’ll certainly find it fun.

Why do people get so worked up over things like this?
Well, it’s complicated, but there are a few straightforward reasons. Hucksterism, for one. Several authors have latched on to the date to lend weight to their crank ideas, exploiting the public’s fears to make a quick buck on book sales (the supposed collision between Earth and the fictional planet “Nibiru”, for example, was originally supposed to happen in May 2003, but was conveniently rescheduled after the planet failed to appear). Failed apocalypses are also quickly forgotten, so it’s easy to overlook how commonplace these sorts of predictions actually are. There have been at least a dozen failed end of the world predictions in the last decade alone! There’s really no reason to worry. None at all.

Finally, if you happen to know any Maya (yes, they’re still around), kindly apologise to them on behalf of the rest of the human race for all of the nonsense. We’ll try not to be too much of a bother from now on.

Merry Notpocalypse, everyone!

Episode 43: News Update

Episode 43: News Update

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Ashlyn Noble, Donna Harris, and Mark Forkheim discuss local and international news of interest to skeptics, including Palestine’s admission to the United Nations, a study demonstrating the benefits of flax, the Pope’s new Twitter account, and more.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Apocalypse 2012: The End of the World Party (Facebook Event, Meetup Event) | Flaxtastic! | The Palestinian UN Bid: What Happened and What Changed | Everyone Can Benefit from Naturopathic Care (apparently) | Pope Gets More Than Half a Million Twitter Followers Without Sending a Single Tweet | Cambridge University to Open Centre Studying the Risks of Technology to Humans | What If? The Robot Apocalypse

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Episode 4½: Left Behind

Episode 4½: Left Behind

In this bonus content that was cut from the first episode of Life, the Universe, & Everything Else, Gem, Robert, and Scott talk about Harold Camping’s end of the world prediction. We’re still here, so is it too late to ask for a refund on my rapture ticket?

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed