carl sagan on our need for skepticism every day

WE HAVE ARRANGED A SOCIETY based on sci­ence and tech­nology, in which no­body un­der­stands any­thing about sci­ence and tech­nology. And this com­bustable mix­ture of ig­no­rance and power, sooner or later, is gonna blow up in our faces. 

If we are not able to ask skep­tical questions—to in­ter­ro­gate those who tell us that some­thing is true, to be skep­tical of those in authority—then we are up for grabs for the next charlatan—political or religious—who comes am­bling along. [Continue reading]

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bone wars, rock-star scientists, and runaway egos

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES for dis­cov­ering new di­nosaurs! Al­losaurus! Bron­tosaurus! Stegosaurus! Tricer­atops! Bloody rep­tiles with wings and birds with teeth What a heady time it was to be a sci­en­tist! Yet it was ar­guably the worst of times for es­tab­lishing re­spect for sci­en­tists and the rea­son­ably new fields of pa­le­on­tology and com­par­a­tive anatomy. [Continue reading]

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not your typical african grey parrot

I MET THE GIRL OF MY DREAMS in the last month of the last year of the last cen­tury. I was 47 and Berni was, well, let’s say younger. People who know us now think we’re a per­fect match, a ‘nat­ural’ couple. But it wasn’t al­ways so—especially not in the be­gin­ning, when I was gaga over her but she was con­sid­er­ably less than gaga over me. [Continue reading]

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“shazam” with a small “s” and no exclamation mark

FIRST THERE IS A MOUNTAIN then there is no moun­tain then there is. I had made this walk a hun­dred times be­fore today but today was ex­tra­or­di­nary, but then every day is extraordinary.

So, I walked as I al­ways do and al­ways did.

So, I walked past the many tele­phone poles on 112th Av­enue NE. [Continue reading]

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ornithomimus in dinosaur provincial park sounds trippy

LIKE MANY BOYS of my gen­er­a­tion, I went through a di­nosaur phase in the early 1960s when I was 10-12 years old. I was fas­ci­nated by these huge beasts and my par­ents in­dulged my in­terest by buying me most of the better books on the sub­ject. And there were also those few movies that had been made up till then that had some­thing ‘di­nosaurish’ about them. [Continue reading]