March was a particularly important month for this blog, and for everybody in the world, really, because it is when the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and Fukushima meltdown started. Although I blogged early on about the quake and tsunami, my colleague and friend Analiese Miller and I eventually focused on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and to date we’ve produced 41 numbered updates, part of a larger set of over 60 posts. And we shall continue.
We were able to identify, from the very beginning, a problem in the skeptical community’s reaction to Fukushima. For historical reasons, most skeptics had become supporters of nuclear power, and often with good reason, but many had become uncritical advocates and at the same time, uncritically viewed people (like Ana and me) criticizing the nuclear power industry as woo-peddling anti-rationalists.
They were wrong, we were right. We were seeing, in the physical evidence at hand, evidence of meltdowns, as our skeptical colleagues smugly and with perfect certainty told us that no such thing could happen. We questioned the intelligence of placing a nuclear power plant at an elevation susceptible to a tsunami, we were told by our skeptical colleagues that no one had any idea a tsunami could strike this location, and then it was shown that the possibility of such an event was known and brushed aside at the time the plant was planned and licensed. And so on. But if you think I’m saying here “I told you so,” don’t worry, I’m not. That will come later, when we know more, and when it will have more meaning and more exposure. Watch this space during the coming March.
I wrote a really fun essay about stramtolites. We talked about the question of how often animals die in front of visitors in zoos, after a tragic and rather public polar bear death. The Crossley ID Guide, a remarkable new bird book, came out (or, at least, my review of it came out). It was PZ Myers (of Pharyngula)’s birthday, which is also my brother’s birthday, and a big deal in the blogosphere. Also, I interviewed PZ on the radio.
In March, I updated and reintroduced The Skeptical Search Engine.
And I reposted one of my favorite essays, which you should read if you have not already: Finding Facebook.