Science & Society

At 3 pm on Christmas Eve, millions of radios around the world will be tuned to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge in time to hear the pure voice of a single boy chorister singing one of the hardest solos of the church calendar, the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s City”.

For many, this signals the start of Christmas. Broadcasts of the Christmas Eve service from King’s began in 1928, but arguably it was under the guidance of Sir David Willcocks, who died in September 2015, aged 95, that the service – and the choir – became household names.

We don’t need to be Christian to celebrate Christmas. That’s been true for a long time. We don’t even need to be religious. Considering the commercialization of the holiday, that might be an advantage.

But there is no way to get around the religious iconography. Jesus, nativity scenes and Christian symbols are everywhere. So how do you explain this to your children – or someone else’s children – if you and they are not religious?

 Geoff Marcy soon to be retired Professor of Astronomy at UC Berkley.  Pioneer of the search for exoplanets accused serial sexual harasser and perverse sexual assaulter was tried by media this year*.  Now more documents have been released. The problem with trial by media is that accusations often equal guilt.  That is the hallmark of a witch trial, that is the hallmark of a lynch mob, and no one should be lynched in the 21st century.  Especially now that social media makes it so easy to jump on the pile.   We can do better than that by giving both sides a chance to be heard.

Christmas has become a cultural event, associated with the giving of gifts and lavish meals with friends and family.

But the traditional understanding of Christmas is that it’s a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus.

The idea of giving gifts may be traced to the Bible, in which the infant Jesus was presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh by the Three Wise Men, named in apocryphal texts as Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior.

This received a boost in the Middle Ages, when Boxing Day, December 26, became a holiday when masters gave their apprentices and other employees “boxes” – that is, gifts.

America is the fattest country on Earth and there are efforts being made to insure the 100 thin women still remaining don't set a bad example by not being obese. S. Bryn Austin, director of the Harvard Chan School's Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED) and Director of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression working group is leading the call to prohibit thin fashion models from participating in fashion shows or photo shoots if they are too thin.

It's the time of the year when there are jokes about politically correct people demanding equal time for a Festivus pole on the steps of City Hall and pundits on the other side are scourging culture for the fact that we have any religious events at all.

The anti-evolution movement, and specifically alternative beliefs to science like Intelligent Design, are wheezing their last, but because education is local in America, it can still happen in some school districts on education.

The most famous example of a legal opposition to teaching evolution began in the 1920s with the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial (science won) and the most famous recent example was the Kitzmiller
versus Dover case in 2005 (science won).

In 2014, the anti-vaccine beliefs of progressive elites reached an apex, both in raw numbers and in hypocrisy - and it was because of an Ebola epidemic thousands of miles away. While only one person was impacted in America, there were calls from across the ideological spectrum, including among rich elites of the American west coast, to develop a vaccine, yet they were simultaneously insisting vaccines cause autism.

The 2015 Monitoring the Future survey (MTF) shows decreasing use of a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, prescription opioid pain relievers, and synthetic cannabinoids ("synthetic marijuana"). Other drug use remains stable, including marijuana, with continued high rates of daily use reported among 12th graders, and ongoing declines in perception of its harms.

The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The survey has been conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1975.

Santa Claus performers struggle with fulfilling the role of jolly old St. Nicholas due to an acute awareness of the sensitivities around interactions with children in modern times, according to 15 formal interviews with Santa performers comprising 14 male Santa performers aged between 52 and 81 and one female grotto assistant who performed in the guise of an elf, aged 32.