Radio Derb Follow-Ups: Weasels DO Squeak, Etc.
September 14, 2016, 07:05 AM
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One.  A listener to last week's Radio Derb wonders if weasels really do squeak.

Never let it be said that we at are inattentive to points of fact, even such tiny ones as this (microfacts?)

Here is a weasel squeaking.

Admittedly, that's a baby weasel.  Possibly the little critter's voice breaks at puberty, after which he barks, growls, bleats, brays, or declaims in iambic pentameters;  I couldn't say.  Research continues.

Two.  Gun enthusiasts have scolded me for having my eye so close to the scope in that picture of me shooting an AK-47.

Fault of the editors!  They lifted that picture from my personal website without the accompanying text:

Here I am shooting a friend's AK-47 at a range in New Jersey in June 2007. Not very good gun discipline here. With my eye that close to the scope I should be just sighting up, unless I want to have my eye punched out; but if I'm just sighting up, why is my finger off the trigger guard? Hmm. My excuse is, I am not used to scopes.
Scopes?  Damned un-gentlemanly contrivances!

Three.  I got an email from a geneticist: a rather angry one—although not, I should say, rude; I don't read rude emails—wondering how I dared be so presumptuous as to pass an opinion on the genetic basis of race differences (i.e. starting at 32m45s in the sound file here), when I am not a credentialed geneticist.

It's true, I am a layman in genetics.  Like any other layman, I depend for my understandings on what I can glean from general-interest writings on the subject (like this) and the pronouncements of authority figures who are credentialed.

Concerning the former, we do the best we can, as citizens desiring to be well-informed on important scientific subjects.

Concerning the latter, as an authority figure to be heeded, to whom should I give more weight:  James Watson, a towering figure of 20th-century science, and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for research in fundamental genetics, or … anyone else?  Not a tough call.