December 12, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Sunday Potluck

Here’s a list of quick headlines with minimal comment for mental snacking.  Then it will be time to clear the kitchen for another week of more deep-fried reporting.

  1. Magician fools scientists:  Skeptic/magician James Randi tricked a group of scientists, then warned them to doubt their own infallibility (except when it comes to atheism); see Live Science.
  2. Louisiana bows to Darwin:  Despite misleading headline, school board blocked challenges to evolution (see Fox News).
  3. Lucky strike:  New theory for earth’s mineral wealth: meteor bombs from outer space brought it (New Scientist and National Geographic).  How else could it have gotten here?
  4. Evolution of the scientific method:  Chart on The Scientist makes development of scientific method look progressive, ignores many pitfalls along the way and conflicts still with us.
  5. Cell wonders:  Details of microbes’ extraordinary maintenance and repair system revealed (Science Daily).
  6. Ratatouille:  With human brain cells implanted, will rats cook better? (New Scientist).
  7. Leftist slant:  Headline on legal efforts to restrict late-term abortions focuses on “abortion rights foes” and those who want to “outlaw” abortion (PhysOrg).
  8. Say what?  Our brains are wired so we can better hear ourselves speak (Science Daily).
  9. Death and taxes:  It’s state government tax dollars, not private investment capital, that is funding most embryonic stem cell research (PhysOrg).
  10. Whale of a mouthful:  Foraging strategies of blue whales are super efficient (PhysOrg).
  11. Ant social justice:  Leaf-cutter ants take care of their elderly and disabled via job swapping (PhysOrg).
  12. Evolve or perish:  Powdery mildew is at an evolutionary dead end, claimed PhysOrg
  13. The eyes have it:  U of Nebraska researchers say you can tell liberals by their eye movements, because they don’t see eye to eye with conservatives (Science Daily).  Cause, effect, or shifty-eyed science?
  14. Climate exit gate:  “Ice-Age Reptile Extinctions Provide a Glimpse of Likely Responses to Human-Caused Climate Change,” reported Science Daily.  Whose fault was that?
  15. Brain glue:  Molecule helps stitch brain cells together and affects how we learn (PhysOrg).
  16. Hairy riddle:  What do you call a fly that can’t fly?  A walk? asked New Scientist about a weird hairy fly (er, walk) found in Kenya.
  17. Theory breakdown:  Four exoplanets dance in a way that defies theories of planet formation, reported Live Science.  Story on New Scientist includes video animation.
  18. Nice birdie:  New Scientist and the BBC News claimed giant storks had hobbits for breakfast.  Either that, or a successful hunt could feed a family of five for a month.  Or the figure is exaggerated.  (So much for the island dwarfism hypothesis.)
  19. Something from nothing:  Science Daily said it is theoretically possible to get matter and antimatter from nothing.  But if it is really nothing, that’s something.  Until they do, it’s nothing.
  20. Evolution of multitasking:  Early man invented the list of things to do all at once, according to Science Daily.  Not clear who Monica Smith of UCLA interviewed or observed to find this out.

Scientists investigate just about everything.  They should mind their own business.  Question is, is their business everything?

Get your Baloney Detector on and read, laugh, frown, gasp, groan, weep, or cheer commensurate with the subject and its interpretation.  Otherwise you might just cheer for everything, including the evil, or succumb to the verbal manipulation of scientists and reporters.  The more you practice discernment, the less you will need to rely on our commentaries, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway.

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