Friday, May 20, 2022

BIG Mouth

Calibre of journalists behind bold claim

When I make a claim such as "Fifteen months after the launch of BIG Media , we have established an industry-leading level of accuracy and integrity in news reporting," a typical response might be "Yeah, right – who the #$%! does this guy think he is?" But hear me out. Two years ago, disillusioned with almost universally irresponsible media coverage and a related increase in societal division and vitriol, I set out to create a trustworthy source...

Top 7 ways to help Earth be more habitable

Some of you might see this list as self-serving – and you would be correct – but I think it also serves the other 7,943,412,999 people on the third rock from the Sun. BIG Media's Top 7 Ways to Help Earth Be More Habitable: Reduce consumption of natural and unnatural resources. We in the developed world are reducing our per-capita energy use, but we have a LONG way to go – Climate change and energy:...

What we forgot about the Spanish flu

“Progress depends on retentiveness. hen experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana Many of the policy responses to COVID-19 in the United States, Canada, and much of the rest of the world have been more a series of wobbly missteps than a steady march on the road to victory. The resulting stumbles occurring over the last two years are neither new nor...

Science – there is method to the madness

“Trust the science!”  It is a rallying cry heard frequently these days intended to signal truth, intelligence, and righteousness. Whether in climate change discussions or pandemic responses, energy posturing or political systems, it seems the mere mention of “science” implies incontestable and definitive proof. That is ironic, considering science itself is based on observation, theory, models, and inferences, all of which can contain significant uncertainty. Imagine a simple scientific experiment to determine the boiling point of...

Manipulating science – activism and advocacy

In a court of law, witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This means they promise not to knowingly lie, leave anything relevant out of the story, or embellish what they know with something they think they know or assume to be true – with or without the intent to mislead. The spirit of this oath should be adopted by scientists and those who use science as...

Science and morality – ethics and judgment

There is a common misperception that science is all about equations, formulas, and clear-cut, unambiguous measurements conducted by serious intellectuals in lab coats. In fact, there is considerable room for creativity, and, very often, non-analytical judgment and choice are involved. These choices and judgments are sometimes about right and wrong, the determination of which depends upon a certain interpretation of morality. Whose morality? What criteria? Are there lines beyond which we all agree something...

Man dies from vehicle collision with parasite

This freak accident is just one of the more than 500 causes of death that are catalogued in the Alberta death database. There are 94 different types of cancer alone, causing death in Alberta. In fact, “non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” and “non-Hodg-kins lymphoma” are two separate causes. Any source of data that is entered manually by different people at different times with different perspectives, guidelines, judgments, attention to detail, and typing ability has this problem. It is...

It’s time to have the talk about the wolves and the sheep

It used to be that the most important conversation to have with your children was the birds and the bees. However, that topic has been far surpassed by the wolves and the sheep. Sheep are so darn cute and fuzzy, but they are not very smart (the attached video link should serve as irrefutable evidence on this point), and are therefore easy prey. Wolves are cunning and vicious. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother were no match...

Following the news no longer equates to being well informed

It used to be that someone who consistently followed the major news broadcasts was considered "well informed". Nowadays, those who take the news at face value are dreadfully misinformed. Fake news is all too common these days. For example, on Feb. 24, it was widely reported that 13 Ukrainians defending Snake Island were slaughtered after reportedly telling Russians aboard an approaching warship to "Go f--- yourself!" What a sad but inspiring story! The remarkable story was attributed...

Restrictions, rights, and the rule of law

We are fast approaching two years since the world was turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic. It seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. I remember being in Edmonton, Alberta, to speak at a construction law conference in early March 2020. By this time, there had been increasing talk of a novel coronavirus that had emerged in China, and had made its way to North America, with a few stops on the...