DiscoverThe Rational View podcast with Dr. Al Scott
The Rational View podcast with Dr. Al Scott

The Rational View podcast with Dr. Al Scott

Author: Al Scott

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Professional astrophysicist Dr. Al Scott addresses politically and socially divisive issues with insightful evidence-based analysis of the facts. Dr. Scott shows listeners how to apply the tools of science to polarizing issues discovering the most rational path to an optimistic vision of the future. See my podcast page https://therationalview.podbean.com/#
62 Episodes
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What is Science?

What is Science?

2020-06-1923:08

Welcome to my first episode! Let's start with the basics. Many folks think of science as a compendium of facts, but this is a misconception.  Science is a process of gaining knowledge about the universe we find ourselves experiencing. Scientists have been referred to as elites in ivory towers, and society has lost some of its trust in science as a path to knowledge. In future episodes I hope to explore this theme further, but for now, let's establish the basics and start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.What is Science? 20/06/20I hope you like it.  Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##science #TheRationalView #newpodcast #tok 
In this podcast I review the facts on CoVid-19 and provide some needed perspective for people who might be worried about what their leaders are telling them to do. This is a very active field of scientific research, so information may become dated over a short period of time as new studies emerge. Many people are confused by the process of science, and its self-correcting nature. They believe that science provides proofs, and they become confused if the guidance changes. Recent evidence suggests that countries that have mandated the wearing of masks have done a much better job at containing the outbreak. Tracking of contacts, using cellphone technology, has also proven very successful in places where that is acceptable.  Canada is rolling out a tracking app that you can download that will let you know if you've been in the vicinity of someone who was later diagnosed. Spending extended periods of time in close proximity to infected people who are coughing, singing, or yelling without a facemask seems to be a common route of infection.Official Release 22/06/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##therationalview #CoVid #science #newpodcast
It seems that all of social media has become a polarized battlefield where there is no possibility of reasoned debate. People who were once friends have now become weaponized meme-posting attack bots. Are we doomed to forever talk past each other, competing to get more 'likes' than 'laughs'? This episode is a plea for civil debate amongst a sea of troubles. A healthy democracy requires that we talk to each other about important issues. Official Release 25/06/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##therationalview #science #tribalism #newpodcast #polarized #debate #civildiscourse
You've probably heard of the wage gap separating average wages of men and women. The family gap is the obverse of this problem where men, dedicated to their careers, are disconnected from their children, and families. They die younger, and have less of a support network in old age.  It will be hard work to close these gaps, but the solution to both is within our grasp. In our modern enlightened society we should examine traditional viewpoints on gender roles and expectations and make some simple changes.Official Release 27/06/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##therationalview #newpodcast #wagegap #pinkcollar #gender #parentalleave 
Climate change has moved from scientific fact to a political opinion, and the world stands on the brink of crisis. What are your opinions on the reality of climate change? How do you choose which experts to believe? Can scientists be trusted? This episode explores some of the strawman arguments that help climate change deniers to caricature their opponents, and sway their followers to delay implementing the huge changes we need to slow the current warming trend.Official Release 29/06/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##TheRationalView #climatechange #climatedenial #evidencebased #science #tok #newpodcast
I once thought that creationism was the craziest unscientific idea that we would have to deal with.  Now the fertile sheltered echo chambers provided by social media have produced worse things like anti-vax, flat-earthism, Apollo revisionists, and other crack-pot conspiracy theories that rational folk commonly encounter. This episode explores some of my history in countering creationist apologists and their favourite strawman arguments. If you find yourself in an encounter, this episode provides you with some pointers on how best to successfully engage and win a debate, while taking the high road.Official Release 01/07/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##TheRationalView #evolution #creationism #evidencebased #science #tok #debating #newpodcast
To stop climate change, scientists indicate we need to get to net zero carbon dioxide emissions in less than ten years. Despite their amazing strides, renewable energy sources are not the panacea that their supporters are claiming. Due to their low density, significant mining and waste is generated to build up any significant generating capacity. Because of their intermittent nature, they usually require backup generating capacity to level the load, and this is often supplied by coal or gas.  Nuclear energy, on the other hand, is a high density zero carbon energy source with over 90% availability that is widely reviled in society. On what basis have you formed your opinions of the risks surrounding nuclear energy? Would you be open to changing your mind on Nuclear if presented with evidence of safety?Official Release 02/07/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##therationalview #science #climatechange #fossilfuels #nuclear #nuclearpower #newpodcast #cleanenergy #renewables
Since 1970, capitalism has marched society forward providing great increases in productivity through computers, robots, and the internet.  Over this period the median household income has not kept pace with the increase of productivity.  These increases have mainly gone to the top 1% of earners, creating an unstable situation that encourages civil unrest. Offshoring of labour markets has eliminated a lot of quality manufacturing jobs in favour of low paying yet plentiful labour in Asia and China. Because of this degradation in income, many families are forced to have two incomes to make ends meet.  This results in a significant decrease in standard of living over what our parents' generation could afford. The plight of single parents in this scenario is devastating. Without a stay-at-home parent much of our spare time is taken up with household chores, and we incur additional expenses of daycare, and outsourcing of household maintenance that we would otherwise have time to do ourselves. How did we get here? Is there a solution?Released 04/07/20Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/##TheRationalView #society #TOK #incomeinequality #socialjustice #newpodcast #inflation #dualincome #economy #standardofliving
Please follow my podcast on https://therationalview.podbean.com If you want to chat and discuss, find my facebook page at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational  
Vaccines: The evidence

Vaccines: The evidence

2020-07-1125:15

Recently, the World Health Organization identified Vaccine Hesitancy as one of the top 10 health risks to humanity. This decline of respect for evidence-based medicine is one of the reasons that I felt compelled to start this podcast. In this podcast I review some of the misconceptions and falsehoods that spread on the internet and contribute to this meme. I present the rational argument in favour of vaccinations and I argue that a gentle approach to fearful parents will win the most support. Many parents do not have the necessary statistical and scientific background to see through the haze of misinformation surrounding this issue. They do not trust 'big pharma' and are falling victim to the demonization of expertise that we are all witnessing. These people are lost, and need a clear voice of reason to lead them out of the darkness into the light.  Please listen to my podcast and learn the facts. Let's try to eliminate ignorance as one of humanity's biggest health risks. Released 11/07/20 Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com and comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #TheRationalView #newpodcast #evidencebased #vaccines #vaccinehesitancy #science #TOK
In this episode I examine the claims of health effects relating to radio frequency electro-magnetic fields (EMF). We are surrounded by low energy EMF radiation. Radio and television broadcasts, radar systems, and microwave ovens have been emitting these fields for decades.  Now we have new sources of EMF that are becoming normalized such as wi-fi routers, cell phones, internet connected appliances, and many more. The intensity of the ambient EMF is increasing as more of the spectrum is used for various applications.  Some people claim that these fields pose a health risk. RF radiation is listed by health organizations as a 'possible' carcinogen. A small fraction of the population claim to be EMF hypersensitive suffering from a slew of non-specific symptoms. Should we be worried? What does the science tell us? Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com Post your comments at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #newpodcast #therationalview #science #EMFhypersensitivity #TOK #evidencebased #RFradiation #health
Through the ages the grandeur of the night sky has been the inspiration of science, art, and poetry.  Looking up and seeing how our small planet is wrapped in the Milky Way galaxy, and understanding our place in a vast cosmos was a joy of my childhood. This sense of wonder is being replaced by crass, cheap sideshow lighting. Anthropogenic Light At Night (ALAN) seems to be an unavoidable fact of urban sprawl and modern development. The majority of children growing up today have never been able to share the majestic nighttime vista that was granted previous generations. On this episode I welcome Mr. Robert Dick, a fellow astronomy enthusiast and dark sky crusader to discuss how ALAN is destroying the night sky, and what we can do about it.   Rob is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Light Pollution Abatement Committee, and he is CEO of the Canadian Scotobiology Group, and their website can be found at https://csbg.ca   Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com/#   #therationalview #newpodcast #science #lightpollution #evidencebased #astronomy 
Industrial farmers believe that organic food supporters are on a crusade to eliminate modern farming practices and exacerbate world hunger. Organic supporters believe GMOs are a tool of 'evil' industrial giant Monsanto to poison the world. Are synthetic fertilizers and pesticides damaging our health? Who is right and who is evil? This is a job for The Rational View!   Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com   Stay connected at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational   #TheRationalView #evidencebased #science #GMOs #organic #nongmo #agriculture #monsanto #food #GMOlabeling #GMOfree #nature #healthyfood #organicfood
Glyphosate is the active chemical in Monsanto's (now Bayer's) popular herbicide, Round-up. Glyphosate attacks a particular plant enzyme that is critical to plant growth, and this makes it a highly targeted chemical. Tests show it is less toxic than table salt. Online, and around the world, however, there is a vocal community who demonize Monsanto and believe that the government has colluded with industry to hide the true dangers of Round-up from a gullible populace. This is not an irrational response. Society has been fed lies from 'big tobacco', and we have been seeing the same playbook on display again from the oil industry in response to climate change. Why should people believe Monsanto? Well for one, the science appears to be mostly on their side. In addition, widespread Glyphosate use has displaced significantly more toxic herbicides from agriculture, thus benefiting the environment. In this podcast I review the history of Glyphosate, the science surrounding health impacts and potential association with cancer, and the regulatory and legal framework that is failing to do its job to protect producers of safe chemicals thanks to an appalling lack of scientific literacy amongst the general public. Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com/# Comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #therationalview #science #evidencebased #glyphosate #monsanto #pesticide #herbicide #roundup #stopmonsanto 
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) is the coolest experiment ever performed.  LIGO can detect ripples in space time billions of light years away, caused by massive objects like black holes merging, as predicted by Einstein's theory of relativity, developed over 100 years ago. The Nobel prize in physics for 2017 was awarded based on this amazing technology. Gravitational wave observatories have opened a new window on the universe. Come with me and share in the awe as we listen to black hole mergers billions of light years away. Follow me on https://therationalview.podbean.com/# Comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #therationalview #science #evidencebased #LIGO #relativity #newpodcast #blackholes
In this episode I discuss conspiracy theories and why otherwise rational people may be susceptible to their charms. In this case I'm referring to theories that suggest a well organized elite group of powerful people are implementing secret and far reaching plans that include collaboration between government agencies, scientists, and the media. Conspiratorial thinking requires one to demonize large groups of people so as to discount any uncomfortable facts or contrary evidence that might disrupt the fantasy. Often these stories are conceived and spread by partisan actors.  Social media incentivizes extreme headlines, and influencers unknowingly spread conspiracy hashtags in their quest for views.  I suggest methods to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of rampant Youtube speculation and unreferenced claims. I present ideas on how to approach helping someone escape from a cult-like conspiracy group. Please have a listen! Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com/# Comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #therationalview #newpodcast #evidencebased #conspiracies #QAnon #conspiracytheory #illuminati #conspiracyfiles #nasalies #chemtrails #aliens #agenda #wakeup
This Cool Stuff episode discusses the science behind the Big Bang Theory and our evolving understanding of our place in the universe. I'm on vacation this week, and I thought this might be a treat. This episode was recorded live at the May 2015 meeting of the Ottawa Chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and was reproduced with permission. This overview talk was recognized with the Ottawa RASC award for best presentation of the year, 2015. Please enjoy! If you want to see the accompanying video, go to https://youtu.be/BBh4U18capk starting at 54:30. Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com/# Comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #therationalview #newpodcast #bigbang #cosmology #science #evidencebased #spacetime #einstein #hubble #spacefacts
UFOs and Aliens

UFOs and Aliens

2020-09-0544:25

A belief in aliens often seems to accompany conspiratorial thinking and tinfoil hats.  In this episode I discuss the possibility that aliens exist and are in fact visiting us surreptitiously and secretly for unknown purposes. You may be surprised to find that many scientists believe that intelligent alien life actually exists outside of our solar system. This is not so far-fetched when one considers that vastness of our galaxy and the visible universe. The idea that blurry lights in the sky is evidence that these aliens are visiting us, however, is not so widely supported by science.Follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com/#Comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational#newpodcast #therationalview #aliens #ufos #science #evidencebased #ufology #ufo #ufosightings #extraterrestrial #nasa #roswell #ancientaliens
In this episode I interview Professor Steven Levitsky, co-author with Daniel Ziblatt of 2018 best-seller "How Democracies Die". Dr. Levitsky is the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government and Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. As more and more people are worrying about the ongoing erosion of long-standing political norms we explore the question, 'should we take US democracy for granted?'. Are there parallels between our current politics and the historical rise of autocracies? What are the factors that have contributed to the polarization of political discourse? What is the price of democracy? Join me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational Follow me on Podbean at https://therationalview.podbean.com/# #newpodcast #therationalview #evidencebased #democracy #trump #elections #freedom #liberty #fascism #polarization #politics #gerrymandering
Homeopathy is one of the most successful medical businesses on the planet with a market size in the billions of dollars. In addition, there is no scientific evidence that it works better than a placebo: the scientific basis of Homeopathy is missing. What’s the deal?   Placebos can help mitigate pain and anxiety without the dangerous side effects of pharmaceuticals. Are they a safe alternative to traditional medicine? How do they work? Please follow me at https://therationalview.podbean.com/# Comment at https://facebook.com/AlScottRational #newpodcast #therationalview #homeopathy #evidencebased #science #placebo #alternativemedicine #holistic #medicine #homeopathic #acupuncture
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