Archive for October 3, 2010

What It Means To Be A Skeptic

Posted in Skeptic on October 3, 2010 by saskskeptic

The Sheaf writer Tyrel Eskelson has this concise article on what it means to be a skeptic:

It is perhaps a common misconception that one who defines him or herself as a skeptic could also interchangeably be labelled a contrarian or a disparager.

A skeptic is not someone who is cynical, close-minded or rejects new ideas. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

A skeptic is someone not in a fixed position but rather one who adopts a process. Skepticism uses the application of reason to evaluate all claims and requires compelling evidence before something is believable.

Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, which gathers data to formulate and test natural phenomena. With the use of this tool a claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent that it would be reasonable to offer a provisional agreement.

Full Article

via the JREF

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The New Phone Books Are Here

Posted in Skeptic on October 3, 2010 by saskskeptic

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!  Who cares!

Well generally I do not.  I rarely use them any more.  Neither do many other people. At work we had stacks of last years books, still in mint condition, ready to send to recycling.  If I need a phone number, I just Google it. For people I use mysask.ca.  From my point of view phone books are almost obsolete.

Then I got a reminder that Google and the internet are not always good at quickly answering more complicated questions.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was cleaning out my vehicle.  Under a seat I spied a SGI driver license renewal reminder.  A reminder that I had forgotten about, because-well it was out of sight.

Oh, Oh!  So where can I get my license renewed within walking distance on a Sunday afternoon.  This turns out to be a question that Google and the internet are not so good at. Yes you can search for “Saskatoon Insurance” or “Saskatoon Insurance Sunday”, but that does not solve the walking problem.  You can try the same search in Google maps and click on various red dots, then follow the links to the insurance companies website if they have one.  As it turns out, the hours of business is not one of things that many companies think to put on their websites.

The much simpler solution is just flip through a few yellow pages.  If the company is open Sunday it is listed in the ad, so is the address.  Sometimes the old technology wins.

FYB-Sleaford Observatory Open House

Posted in Event, science on October 3, 2010 by saskskeptic

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the U of S physics Department are having an open house at the Sleaford Observatory (approximately 70km east of Saskatoon) Saturday Oct. 16.  There is a convoy leaving from the field house parking lot at 7:00pm, but you can follow the map out to the site on your own.  There are several miles of gravel roads.

The two groups have a number of telescopes at the site.  Some RASC members will also bring along their own telescopes.  I went last year unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy.   I hope they have better weather this year.

If you drive out on your own remember to dim your lights when you get near the site and watch for pedestrians, cars and children.

Official PDF

Map to the observatory