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EMS Crying Towel! Liberals attacking social sciences

From New York Mag: At its core, Galileo’s Middle Finger is about what happens when science and dogma collide — specifically, what happens when science makes a claim that doesn’t fit into an activist community’s accepted worldview. And many of Dreger’s most interesting, explosive examples of this phenomenon involve liberals, not conservatives, fighting tooth and nail against open scientific inquiry. When Dreger criticizes liberal politicization of science, she isn’t doing so from the seat of a trolling conservative. Well before she dove into some of the biggest controversies in science and activism, she earned her progressive bona fides. … We should want researchers to poke around at the edges of “respectable” beliefs about gender and race and religion and sex Read More ›

Paradigm Shifters growing legs?

From PR Newswire: Major scientists from a dozen countries present evidence that a paradigm shift is underway or has already taken place, replacing neo-Darwinism (the standard model of evolution based on natural selection following the accumulation of random genetic mutations) with a vastly richer evolutionary synthesis than previously thought possible. The Royal Society seems to cautiously agree: “Royal Society meet on paradigm shift in evolution? Many of the 50 or so scientists associated with The Third Way of Evolution will attend.” Here is a developing discussion of possible interest at O’Leary for News’s Facebook page: Gem from Joel Fletcher: Joel Fletcher the “silent” revolution is taking place while TMZ monitors hollywood’s opinions on Darwinism. Well, we all have our priorities, Read More ›

The “97% of Scientists” Claim is a Lie

So says study: It is becoming clear that not only do many scientists dispute the asserted global warming crisis, but these skeptical scientists may indeed form a scientific consensus. Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publishes Hoax Article on “Boo Boo Kisses”

Reports the Federalist here: Kisses from mommy are not an effective way of remedying children’s boo-boos, according to a new study which was published online by the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. The study, which was allegedly conducted on 943 pairs of toddlers and their mothers, examined whether a kiss from a child’s mother after a minor injury significantly reduced the child’s distress. “Maternal kissing of boo-boos is a common practice that appears to have no ability to reduce the distress of toddlers and may have significant untoward effects,” the anonymous authors of the study concluded. “On the basis of this study, we recommend a moratorium on the practice.”

Evo-Psych: Stupid Built Upon Trivial

In today’s Wall Street Journal (behind paywall) Stephen Budiansky reviews John Allen’s Home, in which Allen purports to give an evolutionary account of why humans, who like other primates are “not natural builders,” started building shelters.  As one might expect, everything Allen writes is highly speculative and totally untestable and therefore unfalsifiable.   In other words, Allen trots out the usual litany of “just so stories” that are the stock in trade of evolutionary psychologists.   One thing it is clearly not:  science. Budiansky’s review is particularly insightful regarding the utter futility of any attempt to apply evolutionary storytelling to any real world problem: A chapter that tries to explain the recent home-mortgage crisis as the product of the “powerful Read More ›

Mars gullies made by dry ice, not water?

Dashing hopes of potential habitable environments? From ScienceDaily: Mars’s gullies may be formed by dry ice processes rather than flowing liquid water, as previously thought. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by two French scientists published online on December 21st in Nature Geoscience. They show that, during late winter and spring, underneath the seasonal CO2 ice layer heated by the sun, intense gas fluxes can destabilize the regolith material and induce gas-lubricated debris flows which look like water-sculpted gullies on Earth. The model created by the two French scientists can also explain why Mars’s gullies are located mostly in the 30̊-60̊ latitude range -with a few spots at higher latitudes- and why most gullies are found on poleward Read More ›

Extraterrestrial mineral provided essential spark for life?

Lights. Camera. Action. Well, admit it, it does sound like a great sci-fi premise. From ScienceDaily: On the early Earth, light came not only from the sun but also from the incessant bombardment of fireball meteorites continually striking the planet. Now, the recent work of University of South Florida (USF) associate professor of geology Matthew Pasek, USF researcher Maheen Gull, and colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology, has demonstrated that these meteorites may have carried within them an extraterrestrial mineral that, as it corroded in water on Earth, could have provided the essential chemical spark leading to the birth of biological life on the planet. … In a recent study appearing in Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports, the researchers focused Read More ›

Life exploded after slow O2 rise?

Not because of a change in animal behaviour? From ScienceDaily: Before now it was not known how quickly Earth’s oceans and atmosphere became oxygenated and if animal life expanded before or after oxygen levels rose. The new study, published in Nature Communications, shows the increase began significantly earlier than previously thought and occurred in fits and starts spread over a vast period. It is therefore likely that early animal evolution was kick-started by increased amounts of oxygen, rather than a change in animal behaviour leading to oxygenation. Co-author Prof. David Catling (University of Washington Earth and Space Sciences), added: “Oxygen was like a slow fuse to the explosion of animal life. Around 635 Ma, enough oxygen probably existed to support Read More ›

Was Methodological Naturalism a Product of the Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries?

In Part Two of my series on methodological naturalism, I critiqued the claim that it was espoused by philosophers as far back as the Middle Ages. In Part Three, I rebut a different claim, that methodological naturalism was a product of the Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. According to this claim, methodological naturalism arose largely in reaction to the superstitious thinking of the Middle Ages, in which epilepsy was attributed to the Devil, and epidemics and lightning bolts were ascribed to the wrath of God. I show that on the contrary, doctors in the Middle Ages knew that epilepsy was a disease of the brain, and that epidemics were a contagious disease. The cause of epidemics was Read More ›

Exposing the Hoary History of Methodological Naturalism: Does it really go back to the Middle Ages?

In Part One of my series on methodological naturalism, I addressed the question: Is methodological naturalism a defining feature of science?. In Part Two, I rebut the oft-heard claim that even as far back as the Middle Ages, natural philosophers espoused a form of methodological naturalism. Proponents of this claim commonly cite passages in the works of medieval natural philosophers, which sound as if they are supporting this principle. I show that in fact, they were supporting two other methodological principles, which when combined, lead to conclusions which could easily be mistaken for methodological naturalism by a careless reader. Because these philosophers followed Aristotle in (i) defining science as the systematic study of natural bodies in motion, and (ii) limiting Read More ›

Richard Dawkins champions a new word. Will it catch on?

He invented “meme.” It caught on. Unfortunately for clarity, but never mind. Here’s his latest effort is to gain currency for a term,: to greenwald someone:  The neologism springs from his spat with fellow new atheist Glenn Greenwald (the flying horse controversy – the sort of mess new atheists would get themselves into, and then be thwacking each other over). The discussion unfolds. The question awaits: Why is Dawkins supposed to be world’s smartest man? Be nice to Uncommon Descent at the Donations page. We are helping Richard Dawkins to retire.

These days, hype rises in science journals, like yeast in dough

But there doesn’t seem to be anyone to punch it down*. From Vox: “Unprecedented!” “Amazing!” “Novel!” Punch. Punch. Punch. A team of researchers from the Netherlands tried to quantify the rise in hype by studying the titles and abstracts of scientific papers published in the PubMed database between 1974 and 2014. They wanted to see how often adjectives such as “unprecedented,” “amazing,” “groundbreaking,” and “promising” were used. They found a ninefold increase in frequency during the period — and published their results in BMJ. … In half the cases, terms like “breakthrough,” “miracle,” and “cure” were used to describe medicines that hadn’t even been approved yet by regulators. More. Punch. Punch. Punch. See also: Fleming’s penicillin find couldn’t be published Read More ›

Microbes lived in cavities 3 bya?

From New Scientist: 3 billion-year-old fossils show early microbes lived in cavities They looked much like bacteria today, and the cavities protected them. The find creates hope for life on Mars. “The record of Archaean microfossils is sparse and controversial,” says Birger Rasmussen at Curtin University, Australia, who previously reported the discovery of cavity-dwelling microbes in 2.7 billion-year-old sediments in Australia. “This is an exciting find as it extends the record of possible life in this habitat a further 500 million years.” More. Hmmm. More time for life, less for Darwin. See also: Ocean toxicity slowed rapid evolution of complex life? and What we know and don’t know about the origin of life Follow UD News at Twitter!

Ocean toxicity slowed rapid evolution of complex life?

From ScienceDaily: By examining rocks at the bottom of ancient oceans, an international group of researchers has revealed that arsenic concentrations in the oceans have varied greatly over time. But also that in the very early oceans, arsenic co-varied with the rise of atmospheric oxygen and coincided with the coming and going of global glaciations, researchers say. … The authors infer — from the way modern photosynthetic organisms react to changing marine arsenic concentrations — that this event was due to widespread ocean toxicity resulting from the release of toxic elements into the oceans when the ice melted. A similar low and high arsenic content accompanied the coming and going of global glaciations at around 0.7 billion years ago, which Read More ›

Sociologist: ID will become part of mainstream science inquiry

British sociologist Steve Fuller, author of Dissent over Descent, offers some thoughts on the anniversary of the U.S. Dover decision. Fuller has studied the controversy with a view to finding out what is going on, rather than advancing a position in a culture war. Here at Australian Broadcasting Corporation: 20 December 2015 marked the tenth anniversary of the judicial verdict of Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District, a landmark U.S. case which can be reasonably seen as having stopped the advance of non-Darwinian approaches to biology in state-supported high school classrooms and textbooks. I have no doubt that such approaches continue to be taught in various guises in various pedagogical contexts. But all these efforts travel under the juridical radar, Read More ›