2011 Year’s End Roundup: the Good, the Bad, and the Skeptical


Christopher Hitchens

Image via Wikipedia

This has been an absolutely vibrant year, with the Arab Spring begun in December of 2010 coming to a boil across the Middle East, and continuing even as I type this.

There was, and is, the terrible trifecta of disasters of earthquake, tsunami and the resulting worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, in Fukushima prefecture, Japan.

But let’s look at some of the highlights in science and skepticism of this year, considering this blog’s theme:

Pastor Harold Camping made the headlines and much headway with the credulous when he predicted, as he had previously done in the 1990s, that Teh Rapture™ would happen on April 21, and when this failed to materialize backpedaled by saying it had happened, but was a subtle event, and reset his prediction for this last October 21st.

This too, unsurprisingly, failed to come to pass, as has every other End Times™ prediction made to date, like clockwork.

There was a rash of mysterious bird deaths, with reportedly thousands of birds at a time falling from the sky, which in many cases turned out to be caused by fireworks which frightened the birds, causing them to crash into things at full flight speed.

New exoplanets were discovered, bring the number past 700, and only a few weeks ago the discovery of more roughly Earth-sized planets, including one in the habitable zone of it’s home star, Kepler 22-b, sighted by and named after the Kepler space telescope, a new world with roughly twice the diameter of Earth — I said Earth-like, not Earth identical!

More supermassive black holes were discovered including an uncharacteristic and most properly pumped-up one in a dwarf galaxy, Henize 2-10, an irregular galaxy 3000 light years across.

Astrologers got a bug up their butts when Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain publicly and quite rightly made unfavorable comments on the validity of astrology, calling it “rubbish” and “nonsense,” which given my obvious skeptical bias, I’m inclined to agree with.

Ken Ring was making headlines with his overly-publicized and discredited claims of earthquake prediction, credulously promoted by the media.

Doomsayers were making the rounds with predictions of disaster allegedly following the dreaded Supermoon, a silly idea more hype than fact…

…predictions which flopped when the event came and went, of course.

After decades of use, NASA’s space shuttle program was finally retired, unfortunately with, at the time, no real replacement to succeed it.

In June, two new elements, neither found in nature, 114 and 116, were added to the periodic table – Mendeleev would be proud. It will be interesting if industrial uses for these can be found once more stable isotopes are produced.

In my home state of Virginia, the first notable earthquake in a long time happened in August, at about 5.8 on the Richter scale, and I can honestly say, “I felt that.”

In September, headcase Pastor Mike Stahl suggested a registry for atheists, comparing them to sex-offenders and terrorists in a classic and typical show of religiously-motivated bigotry, which just induced a Picard facepalm with me.

In October, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs passed, may he be forever at peace, with a controversy in the skeptical community over his use of alternative medicine in treating his cancer, and the whether to discuss it as a lesson in the dangers of Alt Med so soon after the announcement of his death.

In November, a research team funded by the Koch brothers confirmed the reality of global warming, surprising because it was a confirmatory study conducted by global warming skeptics, not proponents, but skeptics who permitted themselves to be convinced by the data.

Of course, other AGW skeptics backpedaled on earlier statements that they would accept the results, now claiming them fatally flawed, and calling the head researcher a closet warmist instead.

Typical.

Earlier this month, the Curiosity rover, the Mars Science Laboratory vehicle, blasted off flawlessly to the Red Planet, while the Russian Phobos-Grunt probe bound for one of Mars’ moons got stuck in orbit, likely falling back to Earth next year.

This month also saw an event I dreaded but knew was going to happen, the death of “the Hitch,” Christopher Hitchens at age 62, in my view the greatest rhetorician of his time, from pneumonia after struggling with esophageal cancer since the Spring of 2010.

Mr. Hitchens was an inspiration for me, like Carl Sagan, and like the host of Cosmos, he will be sorely missed.

Here’s a bit of wishful thinking that the coming year is just as much in the way of “interesting times” as this one, though without the tragedies, but wishful thinking is just that, and I’m not really betting on it.

About Troythulu

I seek to learn through this site and others how to better my ability as a person and my skill at using my reason and understanding to best effect. I do fractal artwork as a hobby, and I'm working to develop it to professional levels, though I've a bit to go till I reach that degree of skill! This is a crazy world we're in, but maybe I can do a little, if only that, to make it a bit more sane than it otherwise would be.

Posted on Wednesday, 15:37, December 28, 2011, in General and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Gideon Jagged and commented:
    Best Year End Summary I’ve read. Enjoy!

    Like

Commenting below. No spam or trolling, or my cats will be angry.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Sharmishtha Basu

paintings, poems and thoughts

Realm of Empress Musie

Sharmishtha Basu's poetries

colours and words waltz

Colours and words two muses dancing together

Thoughts

Realm of Musie (my muse)

Marianne Talbot Philosophy

Marianne is Director Of Studies in Philosophy at the University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education

La Audacia de Aquiles

El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto

Optimal Human Modulation

Your Space To Defrag

Words on a blackboard

In a world of poems, words steal love and put it on a blackboard

Math Outlet

Math Resources For Elementary Teachers

Kurt Brindley

waxing poetics...fervently so ------------------------------------- status: ha ha ha... brb | music: day 4 of continuous twinforksmusic.com | mood: =8-D

Author -Carole Parkes

Psychological, thriller, mystery, secrets, betrayal, adoption, romance, poetry, art

Some Bad Plankton

creative outlet plugged in

kvm88

I don't want believe I want to know. - Carl Sagan

Physics and Art

The strange case of Dr. August and Mr. von Orth.

Charlotte Cuevas, Author

Current writing projects: 52 Flashes of Fiction & The 365 Poetry Project: Year 2

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Deidra Alexander's Blog

I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.

lalocabrujita

Zingendewoorden

Riley Amos Westbook

A fantasy Author with too much free time on his hands.

Kelsey's Cluttered Bookshelf

My ramblings about books and other random things.

Radhika Mukherjee

Writer. Editor. Dreamer. Eco-Feminist.

The Nerd Nebula

The Nucleus of the Universe for all Nerd Hacks!

The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Sucheta the Scribbler

Random. Purely Random. And then some more...

Eric Ian Huffman

I've come to Write.

Woodland Rambles

A writer, a dog, and miles of trails

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

Sausey is Sexy...

Humor, Dating, Sex, and a Whole bunch of Sause...

bdhesse

A writing WordPress.com site

1 SIGFRIDSSON

ON = TIME

UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

Mik Mob's Music Mass

share your favourite tunes with The Mob

Something Like a Storybook

This is where Morgan Bradham shares stuff.

Project i•Am•You

Awareness. Lifestyle. Motivation. Spirituality. Inspiration.

hessianwithteeth

This site is all about ideas

Zebra Humor

The world's biggest collection of zebra jokes!

koniramm

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

Katzenworld

All about (our) cats. Food, toys and other cat related products

nadiaharhash

living in the shoes of a woman

Ray Jay Perreault

Science Fiction writing about aliens with lives you can relate to.

Spirituality Exploration Today

Delving into the cross roads of rationality and intuition

The Wrong Triangle

Obscurum per obscurius | Ignotum per ignotius

Daily (w)rite

A Daily Ritual of Writing

olufunkekolapo's Blog

You are on Olufunke Kolapo's blog...where talent and personality bring forth quality.

Reagent Post

Expanding Perspective and Exploring ideas

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,103 other followers

%d bloggers like this: