Tag: Science

Blast from the Comm Class Past

I had an interesting experience earlier that actually relates back to the history of this very blog, so I wanted to use my post today to talk about it.

About two years ago, I started my blog because it was an assignment in my Comm 233 class. It was some kind of example to prove we knew how to use mass media, or that we knew it existed, or it could have just been the guy trying to force us to start doing something he felt the world would require of us.

In hindsight I’m not really sure exactly why we were given this assignment. But I do know it’s hilarious to remember that being forced to write 20 blog posts that semester was such a pain in the ass now that I have nearly 400 posts and am attempting to write something novel every day.

One of the posts I threw together in those early days of blogging was kind of my prototypical movie review, even before I feel like I technically started doing them with my discussion on The Post around Oscar season this year.

At the time I reviewed a little film called Merchants of Doubt, which looked at some of the methods large corporations in the tobacco and oil industries (among others) would use to try and convince the public that cigarettes weren’t harmful, or that climate change isn’t happening/isn’t man-made.

If you do actually believe those things… Well, I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree for now. Because I’m not looking to make this into a political post necessarily.

Funny enough I believe that’s also a line I used in that original post from two years ago, which you can read here if you want. Though I also made a bunch of comments in it about Trump on the campaign trail that very clearly suggested otherwise.

Amazing how much of a different world it was in that pre-President Trump era… But I digress.

The reason I bring up this two-year-old post is because I got the chance to rewatch the documentary during my Mass Media Ethics class this afternoon.

For the most part I don’t believe my opinion on the film has changed too much since the first time I saw it. Even disregarding the obvious liberal bias in the documentary, it has a lot of excellent work done interviewing various people from all sides of the issue as well as more neutral parties like reporters who have been researching the topic.

All in service of letting the audience know that sometimes corporations don’t have your best interest in mind, and may be willing to deceive you in very creative ways.

I mostly just wanted to write this quick post to reflect on how funny it is that the curriculums of both these classes two years apart both happened to include the same movie. Seemed like it would be a good excuse to reminisce and have some laughs in that end-of-an-80s-sitcom kind of way.

Especially considering most of that joy is likely going to disappear after I write this required essay about the film. My favorite.

The Shoulders of Giants

The Shoulders of Giants

Don’t have anything too crazy for y’all today. Mostly because I procrastinated doing this for a while.

Classes, the gym and a homework assignment I’ve been putting off that’s due tomorrow took priority, I’m afraid.

Sorry about that, blog.

But I can do something about procrastinating another day. Today I wanted to talk really quickly about something that came to my attention the other day while doing a different assignment.

Lately I’ve been reading chunks of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” for my Evolution and Creation class. I actually mentioned it right at the beginning of my Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom pseudo-review yesterday, but we’ve been talking about natural selection and all of the details surrounding it for about two weeks now.

While reading the introduction to his arguably seminal work (which he calls an incomplete abstract in hilarious contrast to the fact that it’s nearly 500 pages), something very poignant struck me.

At one point, Darwin mentions a specific tenant of his theory: That creatures who have specific adaptations more beneficial than others will be more likely to live on and spread their genes, hence propagating that new adaptation.

Admittedly a bit distracted while reading through that part of the piece, I rolled my eyes and muttered, “well duh.”

Then I had to stop myself and reconsider my entire life.

Because I had just ‘well duh’d’ the man who literally invented the concept I was brushing off as obvious.

A concept which he only brought into popular consciousness less than 200 years ago.

Just starting to imagine that such a ubiquitous idea in modern science is so relatively recent is kind of mind-blowing. Schools teach Darwin’s ideas of natural selection and evolution as the first two paragraphs introducing a chapter in Biology 101.

The casual air with which we treat these, frankly, revolutionary and recent ideas is kind of stunning. It’s amazing how much one can take for granted that old tenant that we stand on the shoulders of giants with regards to the sciences…

But also with practically anything else on Earth today. Seriously, even things that we consider wholly modern like social media or 3D printing can see roots traced back to town criers in a pre-mass literate era and rudimentary use of electricity brought about by pioneers like Benjamin Franklin.

Honestly I think that’s the kind of mindset I’d like to hopefully instill in all of you with this quick post.

Even if you don’t agree that Darwin was a revolutionary figure (as I recognize that much of my reverence comes from a liberal-leaning Western education and an understanding of how hilarious the man was from reading his works directly), there are tons of things you use every day that you could think about in terms of which developments have become ubiquitous in making them a now casual idea.

So go on and think about all of the cool things you use that would be unthinkable just decades ago, and let me know what sort of interesting things come to your attention.


P.S. — When I say Darwin was hilarious, just know that in the portion of Darwin’s “The Voyage of the Beagle” that covers his trip to the Galápagos, he spends a page-and-a-half describing how he repeatedly threw the same iguana into the ocean to see how it would return.

That’s the kind of man I would party with.

Why you should watch Merchants of Doubt

For my Communications 233 class, Mass Communication in Modern Society, one of the things we were meant to learn about in the course is media literacy.  I say were because today is the day of our final exam so the course is technically over but… I’m not really here to get into semantics.  Media literacy was defined by our professor as having the ability to analyze the impact that forms of communications have on life.  This referred especially to being able to look at things like advertisements and being able to discern their true meanings through semiotics, for example.

Continue reading “Why you should watch Merchants of Doubt”