Body Language Says Design
July 17, 2011
Your body is speaking to scientists. Some of them hear it saying evolution. Others think it says intelligent design. What characteristics would each side expect? Most people intuitively know design when they see it. Here are three recent scientific papers that may help interpret body language.
Can evolutionary theory explain terrorism?
July 2, 2011
In military strategy, it is vital to know what the enemy is up to. Can evolutionary theory help? An interdisciplinary team at the University of Miami got their heads together and appealed to an evolutionary notion called the “Red Queen” hypothesis, and claimed it provides a “Pattern in Escalations in Insurgent and Terrorist Activity” that is neutral regarding the good guys and the bad guys. It resembles, they argue, how pedators and prey evolve in nature. They offer their model as a way military planners can have the ability “to estimate not only the number of fatalities but how often attacks that result in fatalities will take place.” They applied their pattern prediction to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How robust is this notion, and should evolutionary theory take credit for it?
Avoid Confusion: Disbelieve Paleoanthropologists
June 28, 2011
If you care about the true history of the human race, don’t believe paleoanthropologists. They are clueless and confused. Every solution they come up with creates new problems, and their boastful announcements are likely to be overturned. That’s the gist of a commentary in PNAS by Bernard Wood, who wrote, “The origin of our own genus remains frustratingly unclear.” He ought to know; he’s an eminent paleoanthropologist himself.
NOMA Still Isn’t Working
June 26, 2011
Science journals and websites continue to act as if religion is a subcategory of the science department. If Stephen Jay Gould thought that NOMA was a good idea to keep peace between science and religion (see 11/05/2006), nobody paid any attention. Scientism has taken over the world. Teen religion: In “Teens Maintain Their Religion,” Medical […]
Follow the Leader: Nature
June 21, 2011
Ever since biomimetics (the imitation of nature) gradually emerged around 2002 and really took off in 2005, it has not slowed down. Over 90 previous entries in these pages have reported teams all over the world seeking out natural designs for ideas. The reports have accelerated in recent years to the point where there is only space for short summaries that give a taste of the wide variety of engineering work taking inspiration from plants, animals, and even cells. You yourself might inspire some inventor. Here are a few more highlights from recent adventures in biomimetics.
Biological Information Symposium a Success
June 4, 2011
Friday morning June 4, participants were on their way homes across America and in Europe from a successful conference entitled Biological Information: New Perspectives. They had come to hear leading lights in the Intelligent Design movement deliver 27 scientific presentations on a variety of subtopics under the umbrella theme of information in biology. From all appearances, everyone had a great time of fellowship, encouragement and intellectual stimulation. No protesters or critics detracted from the event—partly because it was not widely advertised, in order to protect the identity of those wanting to take part without jeopardizing their careers.
Appreciate Your Gifts
May 29, 2011
We like to showcase stories of amazing animals, but humans are special, too. What animal can boast some of the qualities that science has recently reported?
A Little Knowledge Without Ethics
May 28, 2011
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. When is knowledge enough? And can a lot of knowledge be a dangerous thing, too? Whether little or much, knowledge without ethics empowers evil.
Does Science Belong Here?
May 19, 2011
Scientists continue to insert their particular methods and viewpoints into every aspect of life, but questions might be raised about the validity of their findings and the propriety of scientists acting as advisors on moral and political questions. Happiness science: Advice found online: “the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about […]
Humans As Guinea Pigs
April 27, 2011
Some scientists like to examine everything except themselves. Human beings are natural objects, they think; why not apply the scientific method to the study of other human beings? It’s a perfectly natural inclination; the question is whether the findings have scientific validity, or result in understanding of human nature better than the explanations offered by […]
Scientists Invade Religion
April 21, 2011
Science and religion, those uneasy combatants in turf wars, do not get equal treatment in the media. The referees in the science news media frequently overlook invasions by science into religious territory, but fail to heed calls of foul by the invaded. World religion: Last month in New Scientist, Kate Douglas theorized about what an […]
Who Should Teach Self-Control?
April 15, 2011
A symposium at Massey University in New Zealand has come up with a profound thought: self-control is a key to a happier life. Academics have helped themselves to an ancient notion that teaching self-control to children leads to happier outcomes as adults. Did the world need science to reach this conclusion? Self-control is […]
Seeing Is Believing, or v.v.
April 4, 2011
What you see is not what is out there in the world – not exactly, at least. Scientists have shown that your brain is tweaking the light coming in from your eyes and making predictions about what you expect to see. The “blind spot” experiment is well known to students. That’s where it […]
Science Discovers the Unexpected and the Obvious
March 30, 2011
Young’s Law jokes, “All great discoveries are made by mistake.” Here are some recent examples. Arch-istan: Think the world’s natural features are all well known? “Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base,” […]
Neurons Know What to Do
March 27, 2011
Neurons are among the most vital cells in the body: after all, your brain is largely composed of neurons. Neurons are transmission lines of information that keep a body in touch with itself and the world. None of the other body organs would work without neurons. The increasingly powerful tools of microscopy are allowing neuroscientists […]