Here Comes Science

So, before my daughter was born, I bought 3 children’s CDs put out by They Might Be Giants: Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s, Here Comes Science. The first two are enjoyable and make for entertaining educational listening. The last one is the most enjoyable to me, but I’ll admit a good bit of bias.

Here Comes Science has the task of describing the methods and results of thousands of years of human exploration and discovery in an entertaining way. I think they handle this very well. The opening words to the album really frames where they’re coming from:

Science is real
From the Big Bang to DNA.
Science is real
From evolution to the Milky Way.
I like the stories about angels, unicorns and elves.
Now I like those stories as much as anybody else.
But when I’m seeking knowledge
either simple or abstract the facts are with science.

“Put It to the Test” further reinforces the point of the process:

If somebody says they figured it out
And they’re leaving any room for doubt
Come up with a test Yeah, you need a test

Are you sure that that thing is true?
Or did someone just tell it to you?
Come up with a test

(Test it out) Find a way to show what would happen
If you were incorrect (Test it out)
A fact is just a fantasy
Unless it can be checked

I like that reinforcement to go study and learn about those things. It also seems to echo LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow: “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Most of the rest of the album is focused on those facts that have been discovered. Photosynthesis, How cells work, atomic elements, etc..

If I had a complaint about the album, it would be the ordering. It’s a bit… haphazard, but not always. For example, I’d put the physical processes (The Elements, Solid, Liquid, Gas, What is a Shooting Star?, How Many Planets?, Why Does the Sun Shine?, Why Does the Sun Really Shine?, and Roy G. Biv) before the songs about biology (Cells, Photosynthesis, The Bloodmobile, My Brother the Ape, I Am a Paleontologist) with Human-centric stuff at the end (Computer Assisted Design, Electric Car, The Ballad Of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)).

That being said, I thought it was funny that Track 8 was “How Many Planets?”. “Why Does the Sun Really Shine?” referenced “Why Does the Sun Shine?” (through a lyric of “Forget that song, they got it wrong. That thesis has been rendered invalid,” which reinforces, to me, that the result of exploration and testing sometimes produces results that conflict with our current understanding, and we have to refine those understandings to better fit reality. Plus it means we get to keep a really fun song.

It’s a good kids’ album and I’d recommend it to any parent that wants to try to kindle excitement about the study of reality in their own kids.

Thanks for reading.

I Read Things August 8th, 2014

Why You Should Stop Believing in Evolution
It’s a breakdown of the word “believe,” as though the people you’re discussing it with care about the semantics. Either evolution is something that you have been convinced is true because of the overwhelming evidence or it isn’t.

That’s like asking, “Do you believe in blue?”

Mississippi is Hell for These Lesbians
Apparently, it’s difficult to be homosexual in the Bible Belt. A new documentary interviews some of these people.

“The Bible tells me I’m going to hell for being a lesbian, so I repent daily,” she says. “I don’t want to die a lesbian. I want to be a better person.”

Forcing Kids To Stick To Gender Roles Can Actually Be Harmful To Their Health
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Sociologists agree that children “learn gender” from being subjected to society’s expectations, even though pressuring kids to conform to those rigid roles can end up having serious mental health consequences for the children whose parents try to over-correct their behavior.

Chinese and Russian Radars On Track To See Through U.S. Stealth
We’ve been making aircraft invisible to a specific set of radar spectrums. Rivals are going to the ones we haven’t designed for. We need to get on that.

“The lower frequency radars can cue the higher frequency radars and now you’re going to get wacked.”

15 Things Americans Would Know if There Were a “Liberal Media”
I knew most of these things, but I didn’t learn them through traditional media outlets. No block quote because, seriously, it’s 15 sperate stories.