Today in two separate lectures I was bothered by what can only be called sloppy science reporting. My science knowledge is reasonably good and my proof for that contention is that when Debbie and I go to the science lectures presented here I usually win a T-shirt. That comes about because when they bring in a lecturer from one of the universities a written test is prepared beforehand with ten multiple choice questions. There are usually about a hundred people attending and I suppose most of the people take the test so getting one of the shirts isn’t trivial. We don’t grade them ourselves. My college degrees are in art, so science isn’t my forte. I only offer this feeble statement because I was so annoyed at speakers, not the ones from the university, waxing gooey over science and then quoting things that were many orders of magnitude wrong. Okay, it’s not big deal when someone says there are thousands of stars in our Milky Way galaxy when the number is more like a 100–400 billion, but the other more subtle things to measure were equally distorted.
Back at UC Berkeley people would simply walk out of these lectures, and never attend another by that person. Here in Bend, I am trapped because if I am going to have an enjoyable social life it is necessary to do something other than cruse the internet. The people here are well informed about their personal lives and when discussing those kinds of subjects where they have substantial feedback they are excellent interlocutors. Most of the people with whom I interact with are retired from some very successful career. Some are artists, entrepreneurs, computer geeks, pastors, gurus, psychiatrists, pilots, and athletes. But many of the public speakers’ information comes from, I don’t know where, but it seems to be vacant of scientifically tested reality. Many are actually hostile to that kind of information.
Yesterday I concluded my post with, “A wise man can learn more from a fool than a fool can from a wise man,” and it is possible to learn a great deal here, but one must be very careful not to lock onto unsubstantiatable nonsense and also to drive one’s car very carefully because people are prone to do physically stupid things.
The fire season is over here but Berkeley’s fire and earthquake risks were part of my search strategy for finding a place to retire.