Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human?

From J. R. Miller at More Than Cake: Inspired by Darwin, the Dutch anatomist Eugene Dubois set sail in 1891 for Indonesia in search of the missing link between humans and apes. On the island of Java, he discovered a tooth, a femur bone, and a skull with a low forehead and enlarged brow which […]

At New Scientist: The neuroscientists’ bet that a signature of human consciousness will be found in the brain has only five years to go…

If it is still on. From Per Snaprud at New Scientist: TWENTY years ago this week, two young men sat in a smoky bar in Bremen, northern Germany. Neuroscientist Christof Koch and philosopher David Chalmers had spent the day lecturing at a conference about consciousness, and they still had more to say. After a few […]

Breaking: A “junk DNA” jumping gene is critical for embryo cell development

This was discovered by someone who was skeptical of the idea that our geomes are largely useless junk. From Nicholas Weiler at Phys.Org: A so-called “jumping gene” that researchers long considered either genetic junk or a pernicious parasite is actually a critical regulator of the first stages of embryonic development, according to a new study […]

What is Randomness? Part 2: Directionality

From David Nguyen at Think Tank Learning: See also: What is Randomness? Part 1, with David Nguyen: Contextual bias

Materialist MatSpirit Tucks Tail and Runs When Confronted With Incoherence of His Position

Let’s review my recent exchange with MatSpirit: MatSpirit quotes Dawkins: Richard Dawkins is not just flapping his gums when he says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction . . . I point out that is the same Dawkins who wrote: The universe that we observe has […]

Odd tube-shaped animal appears, disappears in Cambrian

From ScienceDaily: The creature belongs to an obscure and mysterious group of animals known as the chancelloriids, and scientists are unclear about where they fit in the tree of life. They represent a lineage of spiny tube-shaped animals that arose during the Cambrian evolutionary “explosion” but went extinct soon afterwards. In some ways they resemble […]

From Scientific American: “we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness.”

From Bernardo Kastrup, Adam Crabtree, and Edward F. Kelly at Scientific American: In 2015, doctors in Germany reported the extraordinary case of a woman who suffered from what has traditionally been called “multiple personality disorder” and today is known as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID). The woman exhibited a variety of dissociated personalities (“alters”), some of […]

Question of the hour: Are space aliens hoarding stars in an expanding universe?

Start your day off right with the really gripping questions. From Emily Conover at Science News: To offset a future cosmic energy shortage caused by the accelerating expansion of the universe, a super-advanced civilization could pluck stars from other galaxies and bring them home, theoretical astrophysicist Dan Hooper proposes June 13 at Paper. Advanced […]

Sabine Hossenfelder: The multiverse is “a fringe idea”

From Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, at her blog, BackRe(action): The idea that we live in a multiverse – an infinite collection of universes from which ours is merely one – is interesting but unscientific. It postulates the existence of entities that are unnecessary to describe what we observe. […]

Junk DNA: Darwinism evolves swiftly in real time

From David Klinghoffer at ENST, on Darwinism and the recent find that junk DNA can alter genitalia: The “junk” view, once a prized piece of evidence for neo-Darwinian theory, is thus reduced to the province of the benighted, the reactionaries who “still refer to [it] as ‘junk’ DNA,” after science has already passed them by. Having […]

Nature: Fifteen years later, we still don’t know how many human genes there are

From Cassandra Willyard at Nature: Since 2000, estimates have ranged from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. The latest attempt to plug that gap uses data from hundreds of human tissue samples and was posted on the BioRxiv preprint server on 29 May1. It includes almost 5,000 genes that haven’t previously been spotted — […]

Researchers: Fifth state of matter may defy 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

From Physics Central: Incredibly, a group at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea has just published some findings in Physical Review Letters indicating that the traditionally robust laws of thermodynamics may not hold up in the quantum world. Instead, they argue that for certain situations equilibrium is not reached, regardless of the […]

Junk DNA can actually change genitalia

From at ScienceDaily: Mammals will develop ovaries and become females unless the early sex organs have enough of a protein called SOX9 at a key stage in their development. SOX9 causes these organs to become testes, which then direct the rest of the embryo to become male. The amount of SOX9 produced is controlled initially […]

Will artificial intelligence lead to more social unrest?

A 2018 book by political scientist Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, tackles the effects of AI on social issues. From editorial reviews: “[A] must read…On par with Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed or Matthew Desmond’s Evicted. It’s rigorously researched, phenomenally accessible, and utterly humbling. While there are […]

Stanford Prison Experiment findings a “sham” – but how much of social psychology is legitimate anyway?

From Ben Blum at Medium: Whether you learned about Philip Zimbardo’s famous “Stanford Prison Experiment” [1973] in an introductory psych class or just absorbed it from the cultural ether, you’ve probably heard the basic story. Zimbardo, a young Stanford psychology professor, built a mock jail in the basement of Jordan Hall and stocked it with […]

Richard Weikart: Why social science does not need evolutionary theory

From Richard Weikart at ENST|: In an article for Nautilus, Cristine Legare explains “Why Social Science Needs Evolutionary Theory.” An associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, she laments that the social sciences are missing out, because they ignore the findings of evolutionary theory. She states, “The lack of willingness to view […]

Astonishing news: Dogs use gestures to communicate with people

From Phoebe Southworth at the Daily Mail: Scientists have found ‘strong evidence’ that dogs use gestures to communicate with people in one of the first systematic attempts to decode their language. … Sometimes dogs use a variety of signals in order to get their message across if it is not understood the first time, the […]

A systems architect looks at claims about the “botched” human body

From Steve Laufmann at ENST, on Nathan Lents’s book  Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes.  As a systems architect, I’ve spent decades designing and implementing large and complex systems of information systems — often involving thousands of individual systems. Such systems are normally embedded in complex processes that may […]

The “is-ought” problem. Is it a true dichotomy or a deceptive bluff?

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you do know that just ain’t so. — Mark Twain According to the overrated philosopher, David Hume, we should not try to draw logical conclusions about objective morality based on our knowledge of the real world. This was his smug way of […]

Science writer: New York Times is cool with pseudoscience

From Alex Berezow at American Council for Science and Health: Scientists have a common saying about models: “Garbage in, garbage out.” That means if you put bad data into a model, you can fully expect for the model to spit out bad conclusions. The same is true for organizations. If a newspaper hires improperly educated, […]

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