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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? Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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 Read More ›

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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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Data.

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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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Abstract planets and space background

Future Technologies — Zoom! … or Doom?

Astrophysicist Adam Frank sees a new role for us as galaxy gods as exhilarating but others aren’t so sure

Astrophysicist Adam Frank asks us to consider where we are on the Kardashev Scale for evaluating civilizations in the galaxy — or, at least, evaluating our own progress: Originally proposed in 1964 by Nikolai Kardashev (1932–2019) and later modified in 1973 by Carl Sagan (1934–1996), the scale measures a civilization’s technological advances from 1 to 3 (or maybe 5) by how much energy it can call upon to do things. Currently, we are not even a Type 1 on that scale and Frank offers some thoughts on that, asking, in particular, whether such advances are universal in the galaxy anyway: The classification scheme Kardashev used was not based on social systems of ethics because these are things that we can Read More ›

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Extremely detailed and realistic high resolution 3D image of an Exoplanet. Shot from space. Elements of this image are furnished by Nasa.

Former Astronaut Names Planet He Thinks Most Likely To Have Life

Researchers now seek to narrow down the list of exoplanets for the James Webb Space Telescope to research from thousands to dozens, to avoid wasting time

Former astronaut Chris Hadfield, with nearly 5000 known exoplanets to choose from, names Kepler-442b, 1200 light years from Earth, as an “excellent” one for the James Webb Space Telescope to have a look at: An excellent planet for @NASAWebb to have a look at. https://t.co/AutXPXInJW — Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 19, 2022 At Futurism, Victor Tangermann explains that researchers now week to narrow down the list of exoplanets from thousands to dozens, to avoid wasting space telescope time: In a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal in 2015, a team of astrobiologists argued that several exoplanets identified by NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions, including Kepler-442b, were highly likely to possess liquid surface water, like Earth. “We ranked the known Kepler Read More ›

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The Brady Bunch – Why Research Should Be Guided By Common Sense

Do our names really influence our choice in profession or the way our lives play out?

The credibility of scientific research is undermined by scientists torturing and mining data in a tenacious search for media-friendly results. Media-friendly findings tend to be entertaining, provocative, and surprising, and there is a good reason why they are surprising – they are wrong. Here is an example from BMJ, a top-tier medical journal. A paper with the alluring title, “The Brady Bunch?,” investigated “nominative determinism,” the idea that our surnames influence our choice of professions. With my name being Smith, I might have been predestined to choose to be a blacksmith or silversmith. That didn’t happen, but a newspaper article did find “a dermatologist called Rash, a rheumatologist named Knee, and a psychiatrist named Couch.” The authors of the BMJ Read More ›

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Asian woman doctor in personal protective suit or PPE wearing mask and goggles pray for covid-19 outbreak to improve. Medical, coronavirus, covid-19 and healthcare concept.

Excluding All Reference to God From Science Is A Form of Theology

It’s negative theology, to be sure, Michael Egnor and his guest Joshua Farris agree, but still a theology — and one with implications

In this third podcast discussion, “Don’t Blame Me, I’m a Meat Robot,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and theology professor Joshua Farris discuss how a belief in God is compatible with science. Egnor argues that belief in God is a necessity, to prevent science going off the rails: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/02/MInd-Matters-Episode-174-Joshua-Farris-Episode-3-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and links follow: Michael Egnor: I wanted to talk just a little bit about philosophy of science and its relation to theology. First question is, is a belief in God compatible with the practice of science? It seems like a silly question, but it’s actually a pretty hot question nowadays… Joshua Farris: There’s this common idea that when we proceed utilizing the method of methodological naturalism — as methodological Read More ›

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Midsection of doctor wearing lab coat

We Trust Nonsense From Lab Coats More Than From Gurus

This shocking study is relevant to how we decide what to believe from science sources about COVID-19

An international team of researchers staged a revealing experiment on who we believe when they are talking nonsense. The test of 10,195 participants from 24 countries asked questions about the credibility of the statements and about their personal degree of religiosity. How could the researchers be sure that the statements were nonsense? They were produced by the New Age Bullshit Generator, an algorithm that generates impressive sounding elements of sentences that make rough grammatical sense even if they make no other sense. Two statements were selected: The 10,195 participants in the experiment were presented with two meaningless but profound-sounding statements: “We are called to explore the cosmos itself as an interface between faith and empathy. We must learn how to Read More ›

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Alien Planet with Moons

Recent Science Papers Support Science Fiction Premises

There isn’t a crystal clear boundary; both science and science fiction achievements require imagination

Good science fiction should start with science fact. But, of course, science is a dynamic enterprise that includes many current mysteries and uncertainties so there is plenty of room to develop an imaginative theme while exploring the edges. Here are five edges that a reader or writer may want to explore: ➤ It might indeed be possible to go through a wormholes to a distant galaxy, according to a recent paper. A wormhole, first envisioned by Einstein and Rosen in 1935, “is a special solution to the equations describing Einstein’s theory of general relativity that connects two distant points in space or time via a tunnel.” (LiveScience) It has long been considered at best hypothetical and at worst impossible but Read More ›

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Big Bang in Space, The Birth of the Universe 3d illustration

How Easy Is It To Imagine Absolutely Nothing?

Theories around the Big Bang provide an interesting test of the concept

The Big Bang is, for most, the beginning of all science questions about the universe … and the mind and all that Many dislike the Big Bang because, while it is makes the best sense of the universe, it implies that there is a God. What are the arguments either way? Some see the Big Bang as engineered, though not by a divine Mind. Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, argued in Scientific American last October that advanced aliens engineered the Big Bang and that, when we humans are sufficiently advanced, we will create other universes as well. Loeb’s hypothesis is not logically stranger than the many that attempt to account for the Big Bang without underlying information/intelligence. It does not appear Read More ›