Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


Social media concept. Corona virus fake news concept. Scale on red background

Why Misinformation Comes From the Top as Well as the Bottom

At Big Think, Cameron English asks us to look at the incentives for academic scientists to publish questionable research that gains widespread attention.

Cameron English, Director of Bio-Sciences at American Council on Science and Health, offers a useful take on the need felt by some in power to crack down on Misinformation: The uncomfortable truth is that academic scientists routinely publish questionable research that attracts widespread media attention, adding to the morass of “inaccurate information” circulating online. If we want to get this problem under control, we need our trusted sources to quit releasing untrustworthy information. Cameron English, “‘Trusted’ Sources Spread Anti-Science Nonsense, Too” at Big Think (August 4, 2022) But the fact is, untrustworthy information pays: It is true that researchers live and die by their grants; they either “publish or perish,” as the old saying goes. Often, that means academic scientists…

full moon in the sky

NASA Finds Spots on the Moon With San Francisco Temperatures

No, this news is NOT from the “Strange News” tabloid at the checkout counter; it really happened and it is good news for proposed moon bases

Talk about a “fairy godmother” find: NASA-funded scientists have discovered shaded locations within pits on the Moon that always hover around a comfortable 63 F (about 17 C) using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and computer modeling. The pits, and caves to which they may lead, would make thermally stable sites for lunar exploration compared to areas at the Moon’s surface, which heat up to 260 F (about 127 C) during the day and cool to minus 280 F (about minus 173 C) at night. Lunar exploration is part of NASA’s goal to explore and understand the unknown in space, to inspire and benefit humanity. Bill Steigerwald, “NASA’s LRO Finds Lunar Pits Harbor Comfortable Temperatures” at NASA…

Amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease

Trust in Science? Fraud Now Claimed re Key Alzheimer Paper

Autism and COVID-19 research have also been marred by misrepresentation, raising issues about what “trust in science” should mean

[This article is republished with permission from The Epoch Times (July 26, 2022) where it appeared under the title “Scientists Are Destroying Our Trust in Science.”] A just-published exposé in the journal Science claims that a seminal study on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease may contain falsified data. The 2006 report concluded that Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of a certain type of plaque in the brain—a finding that has guided research into cures for Alzheimer’s ever since. But now, critics claim that the original authors “appeared to have composed figures by piecing together parts of photos from different experiments” calling their conclusions into significant question. If true, this is a scientific scandal of the worst order. As the Science article…

Exploration of new worlds, space and universe, new galaxies. Planets in backlight. Exoplanets. Solar systems. 3d rendering

Exoplanets: As the Data Streams Back… the Picture Comes In

China is now focusing on the search for a planet like Earth, using the Earth 2.0 Telescope (ET). Astronomer Jian Ge believes his team can find 17

In recent exoplanet news: ● China is now focusing on a search for a planet like Earth: Most likely, such a planet does exist, but in the relatively nascent field of exoplanet research, no one has yet been able to find it. That is not for lack of trying. Kepler spent nine years searching over 150,000 stars, and while it detected almost 3,000 new exoplanets, none met the criteria of being Earth-sized in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. Bad luck might have played a role – the new paper’s authors even calculated that statistically, Kepler probably should have found at least one Earth-sized planet in a habitable zone. Andy Tomaswick, “An Ambitious Plan to Find Earth 2.0” at…

Trust Concept

Claim: If Science Were Properly Presented, Trust Would Grow!

The ideas examined in these four short essays all assume that scientists are exempt from the bias and self-interest that governs everyone else

Here’s the fourth short essay on an interesting summary at a science news site of a paper that bemoans the decline of trust in science. The summary did a good job — perhaps unintentionally — of typifying in itself the reasons so many people distrust claims made on behalf of science. Earlier, we covered: obliviousness to the damage created by science dogmatism; failing to recognize internal weaknesses; and the fear that the more the public knows, the more problems we will find. The summary concludes with the view that science needs to be presented in the right, targeted learning style: 4. Information is not being presented in the right learning style This problem is the most straightforward of the four…

Square letters with text DOUBT and TRUST

Researchers: If We Tell Folks More About Science, They Trust Less

Part 3: The researchers argue that doubts about science arise from conflict with beliefs. The many COVID-19 debacles suggest other causes…

We’ve been looking (here and here) at a summary at a science news site of a paper that bemoans the decline of trust in science. The author did a good job and doubtless means well. But the outcome — unintentionally — typifies the reasons so many people distrust claims made on behalf of science. For example, the third factor for distrust that we are asked to consider is that information we learn from science sources can go against our personal beliefs: “Scientific information can be difficult to swallow, and many individuals would sooner reject the evidence than accept information that suggests they might have been wrong,” the team wrote in their paper. “This inclination is wholly understandable, and scientists should…

Young amateur football fan supporters cheering with confetti watching local soccer cup match at stadium - Friends people group on green t shirts having excited fun on sport world championship final

Researchers: Distrust of Science Is Due to Tribal Loyalty

In Part 2 of 4, we look at a claim arising from a recent study: We blindly believe those we identify with, ignoring the wisdom of science

Recently, a paper lamenting the decline of trust in science was discussed at ScienceAlert, a science news site. In representing the paper—doubtless accurately — for a lay audience, the write-up embodies the causes of legitimate public distrust. That is worth dissecting in more detail. Yesterday, we looked at the write-up in light of the government responses to COVID, which were all too often panicked reactions rather than trustworthy guidance. Then, in the wake of the debacle, the White House chose to set up a Disinformation Board to target non-government sources of alleged disinformation — which could only deepen existing distrust. We press on. The second point of four raised at ScienceAlert is that tribal loyalty is thought to create distrust…

総務省 検察庁 国家公安委員会

Why Many Now Reject Science… Do You Really Want To Know? Part 1

COVID demonstrated — as nothing else could — that the “science” was all over the map and didn’t help people avoid panic

A recent science news media release is an excellent and mercifully short illustration of what’s wrong with science today. That can’t have been what the study authors were trying to do but never mind. From ScienceAlert, we learn that distrust in science is a “massive problem” and that it has four sources. Here, let’s deal with their first source: First, they say, we have grown to distrust the information source: “Pro-science messages can acknowledge that there are valid concerns on the other side, but explain why the scientific position is preferable,” says Philipp-Muller. Tessa Koumondoros, “These 4 Factors Can Explain Why So Many People Are Rejecting Science” at ScienceAlert (July 16, 2022) The paper requires a fee or subscription. What?…

Cute curious cat looking into fridge

Can We Eliminate the Idea of Function From the Study of Life?

The question is, can biology journals take away what they did not give, without harming their own enterprise?

We tend to assume that our values come in part from the careers we follow. Often, that’s true. If a given mindset works well at work, we may try it at home. But that process can work in reverse. We can start with a mindset and try to graft it onto our work. With mixed results. That seems to have happened in some quarters in biology. For example, the term “function” in life forms is linked historically with the idea that life forms show evidence of design. Therefore, philosopher Emmanuel Ratti and molecular biologist Pierre-Luc Germain argue, biologists shouldn’t use it: The notion of biological function is fraught with difficulties — intrinsically and irremediably so, we argue. The physiological practice…

little bird flying out of bird cage, think outside the box

Why Free Will Is Philosophically and Scientifically Sound

As Michael Egnor points out in a recent podcast, it has been nearly a century since determinism was toppled in physics

In “Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Humans Have Free Will” a recent podcast at ID the Future, geoscientist Casey Luskin discussed science-based arguments against free will with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor (13:05 min). Are these arguments a serious challenge or are they just wishful thinking on the part of materialists? Here’s a partial transcript: Casey Luskin: Now I want to continue our conversation, Dr. Egnor, from the previous podcast, where we were talking about your debates on evolution news and views, responding to Dr. Jerry Coyne, the well known evolutionary biologist from the University of Chicago. Coyne is what you might call an honest atheist in that he’s willing to admit the implications that atheism and Darwinian materialism have for concepts like free…

Parasaurolophus in the Forest - Two Parasaurolophus dinosaurs browse on foliage of the Montezuma Cypress tree as Cronopia mammals scrurry to safety.

Where We Stand Today With Jurassic Park

There have been a number of unexpected finds of from dinosaurs besides bones; some paleontologists dig hopefully

The recent find of a complete, well-preserved baby mammoth was greeted with gasps: She’s over 30,000 years old, and yet her preservation is astounding: She has her skin, her tiny tusk nubs, her toenails, and her little tail. She still has tufts of fur, and her trunk—with its prehensile tip—is complete and malleable. Looking at the initial photograph from where she was found at a Yukon gold mine, she looks like she only recently met her demise. Jeanne Timmons, “‘Gasps’ as Scientists Reveal Preserved Baby Woolly Mammoth” at Gizmodo (July 2, 2022) It’s easy to see why: And the find naturally renews questions about resurrecting much, much older extinct life forms through via recovered DNA. Never mind whether it’s a…

brown brick wall

New Military Technology Can “See” Through Walls

Military? How long before our nosy civilian neighbors have one?

Xaver 1000TM, a new gadget from Israel-based imaging specialist firm Camero, doesn’t provide a video of what’s going on behind the wall; it detects and pinpoints evidence of activity: The technology can display live objects, behind walls, in such high resolution that it can detect whether a person is sitting, standing, or lying down, even if they have been motionless for a significant period. Specific body parts are also detectable, the company said. Operating it is easy and requires minimal training, Shephard Media reported, and it only requires a single user to make use of a simple interface on an embedded 10.1-inch touchscreen display. It can penetrate through most common building materials, Camero-Tech said. Joshua Zitser, “New Israeli military technology…

The concept of the human brain. The right creative hemisphere versus the left logical hemisphere. Education, science and medical abstract background.

When a Neurosurgeon and a Biologist Keep On Arguing…

… we suspect some pretty basic science issues are involved

In a recent ID: The Future podcast (June 24, 2022) Casey Luskin interviews pediatric neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on his blogosphere debates with evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. Egnor, who has authored many research papers, espouses a non-materialist view of the mind — and of life in general — with which Dr. Coyne, a committed atheist, emphatically disagrees. Here’s a partial transcript from “A Brain Surgeon Debates Evolutionist Jerry Coyne and Other Atheists”: Casey Luskin: We’re going to talk about these debates you’ve had with Dr. Coyne and others. Some of the arguments you’ve made, I think, have been very compelling. But before we get into that, I’d like to ask, why do you focus your writing so much on Dr. Jerry…

Chatbot / Social Bot mit Quellcode im Hintergrund

Google’s Chatbot LaMDA Sounds Human Because — Read the Manual…

What would you expect LaMDA to sound like? Whales? ET? I propose a test: “Human until PROVEN otherwise”

Recently Google employee Blake Lemoine caused a media storm over the LaMDA chatbot he was working on, that he claims is sentient (it feels things like a human being). A heavily edited transcript has been released that shows him and a collaborator having a very coherent conversation with LaMDA. Many have been quick to dismiss his claims about the chatbot’s sentience, accusing the Googler of falling prey to the Eliza effect: anthropomorphizing a probability distribution over words (thus believing that he is talking to a human). The accusation is that Lemoine generated a large number of dialogs, then edited down the exchange to create a coherent narrative. Google placed Lemoine on leave, technically for breaking the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that…

Female politician talking on media press conference, public relations, event

Why Science News Sucks — A Response to a Disgusted Physicist

There are reasons why science journalists can't usually be skeptical in the way that other journalists can. Here are some of them

In her usual forthright manner, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder asks, by blog post and Youtube video, “Why does science news suck so much? It’s hardly an original question but among her suggested answers are some thoughtful reflections, including 9. Don’t forget that science is fallible A lot of media coverage on science policy remembers that science is fallible only when it’s convenient for them. When they’ve proclaimed something as fact that later turns out to be wrong, then they’ll blame science. Because science is fallible. Facemasks? Yeah, well, we lacked the data. Alright. But that’d be more convincing if science news acknowledged that their information might be wrong in the first place. The population bomb? Peak oil? The new ice…


World’s Fastest Computer Breaks Into the Exascale

How fast? “If each person on Earth completed one calculation per second, it would take more than 4 years to do what an exascale computer can do in 1 second.”

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee announced earlier this week that its Frontier Supercomputer, having broken the exascale barrier, is the world’s fastest. It can do more than a quintillion calculations per second: The Frontier supercomputer at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory earned the top ranking today as the world’s fastest on the 59th TOP500 list, with 1.1 exaflops of performance. The system is the first to achieve an unprecedented level of computing performance known as exascale, a threshold of a quintillion calculations per second. Frontier features a theoretical peak performance of 2 exaflops, or two quintillion calculations per second, making it ten times more powerful than ORNL’s Summit system. News, “Frontier supercomputer…

Canadian Mounties Circling

Canadians Forbidden To Murder in Space and Other ET Stories

Some astronomers are blasting out messages to aliens; others say it would take too long for them to respond

Alien watch: Canadians forbidden to murder in space and other stories The Canadian government buried it in other news re the federal budget: Buried deep within the legislation implementing Canada’s 2022 federal budget is a Criminal Code amendment that would explicitly extend Canadian criminal jurisdiction to the cosmos… “A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offence is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada,” reads the measure included in Bill C-19, the 443-page document implementing the provisions of the 2022 federal budget. Basically, the amendment means that if a Canadian commits a criminal offence while in space, they’ll be…

Biological and science background

Michael Crichton would call Twitterheads “Scoundrels”

Why “Scientific Consensus” is an Oxymoron

Twitter has a new policy concerning tweets: “Misleading advertisements on #Twitter that contradict the scientific consensus on #climatechange are prohibited, in line with its inappropriate content policy.” The word pairing “scientific consensus” used in this policy is a destructive science-stifling oxymoron. Michael Crichton (1942–2008) would surely have said so. Crichton was the author of wonderful science fiction, including Jurassic Park. and The Andromeda Strain. In a lecture at Caltech, the late master story teller gave Twitter’s policy a gut punch: Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach…

Robot with Artificial Intelligence observing human skull in Evolved Cybernetic organism world. 3d rendered image

Experts Guess: How Might Humans Change Over the Next 10,000 Years?

So much has changed in the past few thousand years that the past may not be a reliable guide to the future

Evolutionary biologist Nicholas R. Longrich thinks he knows how human beings will change in the next 10,000 years: It’s hard to predict the future. The world will probably change in ways we can’t imagine. But we can make educated guesses. Paradoxically, the best way to predict the future is probably looking back at the past, and assuming past trends will continue going forward. This suggests some surprising things about our future. We will likely live longer and become taller, as well as more lightly built. We’ll probably be less aggressive and more agreeable, but have smaller brains. A bit like a golden retriever, we’ll be friendly and jolly, but maybe not that interesting. At least, that’s one possible future. Nicholas…

Exploring the Multiverse Some elements provided courtesy of NASA

Astrophysicists Lock Horns Over Whether Multiverse Must Exist

Ethan Siegel says it follows naturally from inflation; Adam Frank says inflation is not that robust a theory

Recently, online magazine Big Think challenged two astrophysicists, Ethan Siegel (Yes) and Adam Frank (No) to debate the question. From Ethan Siegel’s argument for the multiverse: If cosmic inflation and quantum field theory are both correct, then the Multiverse arises as an inevitable consequence of the two, combined… Those regions of space where inflation end and the hot Big Bang begins are each their own, independent Universe, and together, they make up a Multiverse. We may not be able to measure these other Universes, at least not just yet, but there’s every reason to expect that if inflation and quantum field theory are both correct, then the Multiverse inevitably exists. Ethan Siegel and Adam Frank, “Is the Multiverse real? Two…