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Gobsmacking Stupidity at U of M

  I don’t really want to talk about the “War on Christmas.”  It is boring and obvious and has been done to death.  It’s like liberal bias in the MSM.  Yeah, and the sun rose today.  Got anything everyone doesn’t already know? And, believe it or not, this is not a post about the War on Christmas.  This is a post about how post-moderns are apparently unable to think.  Look at the memo officials at the University of Minnesota distributed to their staff.  Consider the title:  “Religious Diversity and Holidays.”  One would expect a memo with that title would be about, well, diversity.  Instead, the purpose of the memo is to quash even the faintest whiff of tolerance for Jews Read More ›

Asked at Nautilus: Should scientists publish their personal biases?

From Nautilus blogger Brian Gallagher: What if scientists were more transparent about their values? Would their results and recommendations be better received and more trusted if they acknowledged any relevant personal beliefs that may have shaped their research? That’s what Kevin C. Elliott and colleagues, authors of the PLoS ONE study, sought to determine with some online experiments. They recruited 494 U.S.-participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk (a “convenience sample”—more “male, younger, more highly educated, and more liberal” than a representative sample) to take a survey; it was advertised vaguely as “Your Attitudes about Important Social Issues in the US” to solicit a broad cross-section of people not particularly interested in, or opinionated about, the issues discussed in the experiments. … Read More ›

Is there anything city life can’t do? We are now told it is affecting evolution

From ScienceDaily: “We’ve created a novel ecosystem that no organism has ever seen before,” said Johnson, noting that their study, published Nov. 3 in the journal, Science, is a “wake-up call for the public, governments and other scientists.” He and Munshi-South suggest that we need to think carefully about how we’re altering our environment in unintended ways when we build cities, influencing the evolution of species that may, in turn, influence our lives. A number of organisms, such as rats, urban lizards, cockroaches, pigeons and bedbugs, have evolved to depend on humans. There are now mosquitoes, for example, that have evolved to live in the London Underground stations and adapted so that they no longer need to feed on blood Read More ›

Origin of life in the lab prophesied in 1960

By top Darwinist George Gaylord Simpson (1902–1984): At a recent meeting in Chicago, a highly distinguished international panel of experts was polled. All considered the experimental production of life in the laboratory imminent … – Simpson, G. G. (1960) The world into which Darwin led us. Science 131: 966–974 The ToC summary reads “The Darwinian revolution changed the most crucial element in man’s world his concept of himself.” Handy to reference this when someone claims that Darwinism in the schools or the churches is all just science and nothing but science… It was never just science and a big question now is, how much of the science even remains? See also: Biochemists: RNA world has run its course. Huh? Rob Sheldon: Read More ›

Biochemists: RNA world has run its course. Huh?

RNA World is the theory that the earliest life forms used RNA to perform functions now carried out by DNA because RNA was more likely to somehow fall into place. From Jordana Cepelewicz at Quanta: … Perhaps most importantly, an RNA-only world could not explain the emergence of the genetic code, which nearly all living organisms today use to translate genetic information into proteins. The code takes each of the 64 possible three-nucleotide RNA sequences and maps them to one of the 20 amino acids used to build proteins. Finding a set of rules robust enough to do that would take far too long with RNA alone, said Peter Wills, Carter’s co-author at the University of Auckland in New Zealand Read More ›

Censored researchers: Nutrition is a “degenerating” research paradigm

From Edward Archer & Carl “Chip” J. Lavie at RealClearScience: ‘Nutrition’ is now a degenerating research paradigm in which scientifically illiterate methods, meaningless data, and consensus-driven censorship dominate the empirical landscape. Since the 1950s, there was a naïve but politically expedient consensus that a person’s usual diet could be measured simply by asking what he or she remembered eating and drinking. Despite the credulous and unfalsifiable nature of this memory-based method, investigators used it to produce hundreds of thousands of publications and acquire billions of taxpayer dollars. the basic problem is that self-report is about as reliable a guide to what we eat as self-report on how popular we are. To counter this blatant scientific illiteracy, we published analyses showing that Read More ›

In this week’s episode, slow immigration doomed the Neanderthals

From APNews: [The researchers] based their conclusion on a computer simulation that represented small bands of Neanderthals and modern humans in Europe and Asia. These local populations were randomly chosen to go extinct, and then be replaced by another randomly chosen population, with no regard for whether it represented the same species. Neither species was assumed to have any inherent advantage, but there was one crucial difference: Unlike the Neanderthals, the modern humans were supplemented by reinforcements coming in from Africa. It wasn’t a huge wave, but rather “a tiny, tiny trickle of small bands,” Kolodny said. Still, that was enough to tip the balance against the Neanderthals. They generally went extinct when the simulation was run more than a Read More ›

Extraterrestrial bacteria found at Russian segment of the International Space Station? Probably not, but…

Probably not but it is fun now and then to worry about stuff that’s too exotic to really be happening. Most likely, anyway. From Neel V. Patel at Slate: … Anton Shkaplerov, a Russian cosmonaut who has already spent two stints aboard the International Space Station and is gearing up for a third mission to launch on Dec. 18, told Russian state media that scientists have found living bacteria sitting on the exterior of the Russian segment of the ISS. He claims the bacteria is not from Earth—it’s extraterrestrial in origin. Hey, bacteria up there are not impossible: Moreover, the upper reaches of the atmosphere are home to their own array of undiscovered forms of life. Bacteria that has adapted Read More ›

“Anti-science”? That happens when anyone questions whatever is marketed as “science.”

To hear it from Steven Novella at Neurologica Blog: The fight over science in public education continues, and if anything picked up considerably in 2017. Earlier in the year Nature reported on various state laws designed to water down science education or allow for equal time to be given to unscientific views. … A new Florida bill also includes this problematic language: Controversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner. This is part of the latest strategy. First, don’t mention any one theory (like evolution) by name. That is likely to trigger a constitutional challenge. Second, make the bill sound like it is promoting something positive, like academic freedom, democracy, or just being fair Read More ›

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Story of human dispersal across the globe drastically revised

From ScienceDaily: Most people are now familiar with the traditional “Out of Africa” model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research, are revising this story. Recent discoveries show that humans left Africa multiple times prior to 60,000 years ago, and that they interbred with other hominins in many locations across Eurasia. Paper. (paywall) – Christopher J. Bae, Katerina Douka, Michael D. Petraglia. On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives. Science, 2017; 358 (6368): eaai9067 DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9067 More. In short, Cool beliefs did not turn out to Read More ›

Memo from UD News: Net Neutrality is not the answer to fake news

Listening to the pros and cons of net neutrality’s (I bet, temporary) demise and the freakouts around the coming cyclone (we are told) of fake news: As a lifetime newser and current provider of donor-supported news, I have some thoughts on how to avoid fake news, whether or not government or business is “helping you” (= trying to run your life for their benefit). 1. If you rarely read or hear ideas that challenge you (and freak out whenever you do), please try – really really try – to get out more. Don’t demand rules for the vast throng of adults who have learned mature judgment through regular practice. 2. Treat all news as if it were advertising. What aren’t they telling us? Read More ›

At BigThink: Top ten greatest scientists alive today – Are Stephen Hawking and James Watson oversold?

From filmmaker Paul Ratner: Ranking the world’s greatest contemporary scientists may be a no-win proposition, with inevitable questions about how to evaluate one’s contribution over another. How does a discovery in one field measure up to a discovery in a different one? And what about Richard Dawkins, where is he on this list? All reasonable questions, but ultimately we need to start the discussion somewhere. So here’s a debatable list of top ten scientists from around the world who have made a great impact on our life (but not in order of the magnitude of their achievements because that just might be an unscientific exercise):More. Spoiler: Richard Dawkins is not on the list. So far as one can see. Did Read More ›

Psychologist asks, Why are some people more religious than others?

He puts it down to genetic predisposition, need for control, and identifying with a group. From Andy Tix at Psychology Today: Genetics, control, and groups. Like every other behavior psychologists have studied, religious behavior is influenced by an interaction between nature and nurture, in other words. Still, there’s a lot we don’t understand. One tentative answer generates five additional questions. Mystery remains and, I suspect, always will.More. His approach, well-meaning and friendly, is just the sort of schlock that discredits psychology. The problem is, he is throwing around terms and concepts from studies that are rarely worth the space they take up on a hard drive. Once you get past: Mother Theresa was religious and so were Torquemada and Pat Read More ›