Prof. Daniel Dennett's
(New York University, Philosophy) new book Breaking the Spell
appears to have frightened its NYT book review
er, Leon Wieseltier
(The New Republic, Literary Editor). Wieselter claims "The question of the place of science in human life is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical question", and promptly proceeds to demonstrate that he himself knows nothing about philosophy. Dennett responds
Prof. Brian Leiter
(University of Texas, Philosophy) responds
that "'The view that science can explain all human conditions and expressions, mental as well as physical' is not a 'superstition' but a reasonable methodological posture to adopt based on the actual evidence, that is, based on the actual expanding success of the sciences . . . during the last hundred years."
b l o g
and serious reviews
posted by jeffburdges
on Mar 7, 2006 -
Ground-based astronomy could be impossible in 40 years because of pollution from aircraft exhaust trails and climate change, an expert says.
posted by goldism
on Mar 2, 2006 -
American Chemical Society Feb. 2006
"As the federal government cuts back on funding for research, scientists are now forced to rely more and more on financial assistance from corporations; this raises troubling questions about whether the results from these studies will be impartial and objective or favorable to the companies that paid for them."
“The whole scientific enterprise is being distorted by these corporate interests ...”
posted by hank
on Feb 22, 2006 -
A monstrous discovery
suggests that viruses, long regarded as lowly evolutionary latecomers, may have been the precursors of all life on Earth.
"We haven't even begun to scratch the surface. The numbers are mind-boggling. If you put every virus particle on Earth together in a row, they would form a line 10 million light-years long. People, even most biologists, don't have a clue. The general public thinks genetic diversity is us and birds and plants and animals and that viruses are just HIV and the flu. But most of the genetic material on this planet is viruses. No question about it. They and their ability to interact with organisms and move genetic material around are the major players in driving speciation, in determining how organisms even become what they are."
posted by five fresh fish
on Feb 17, 2006 -
7000 frames per second
Newscientist article, with links to the movies.
"Atmospheric 'sprites' captured in explosive detail
... by researchers using an ultra-high-speed camera.
"The best images yet of the flashes – which resemble a giant undulating jellyfish with its tentacles falling from a halo of light – have allowed the team to pick apart their structure and mechanics. "
posted by hank
on Feb 17, 2006 -
Science is better:
An enormous scientific study has conclusively demonstrated that "diet had no effect" on rates of women getting cancer or heart disease. Because the study investigated the efficacy of overall low fat diets
, rather than the more recently developed hypothesis that saturated fats are the only pernicious kind
, some leading medical researchers accept these findings but still think there MAY be a direct link between certain diets and major health problems in women, but (and here's the money shot) "if they did a study like that and it was negative, then I'd have to give up my cherished hypotheses for data." Now that, my friends, is a heartwarming example of one of the pinnacles of human creativity, the scientific method, which is under so much attack these days. . .
posted by twsf
on Feb 7, 2006 -
First it was announced
that an Oregon State University
graduate student was publishing a story in the journal Science
. titled, "Post-Wildfire Logging Hinders Regeneration and Increases Fire Risk
," which undercut Bush administration-backed arguments for post-wildfire logging. A week later it was made public
that nine professors in the College of Forestry
(which gets 10% of its funding from a logging tax) lobbied the journal not to publish the article. Among them was John Sessions
, lead author of a report that pressed the U.S. Forest Service to expand salvage logging. After attention was brought to the professors' attempts to keep the article from being published, many worried about the university's reputation regarding academic freedom
, if not the state of academic freedom throughout the academic world. However if it wasn't difficult enough to just worry about your own professors standing in the way of getting your data published, you also have to worry about the government pulling your funding
if your data doesn't match the data they want to see.
"The Bureau of Land Management
acknowledged Monday that it asked OSU if the three-year study led by graduate student Daniel Donato and published last month in the journal Science violated provisions of a $300,000 federal fire research grant that prohibits using any of the funds to lobby Congress and requires that a BLM scientist be consulted before the research is published."
"It's totally without precedent as far as I can recollect
," said Jerry Franklin, a professor at the University of Washington who has studied Northwest forests for decades. "It says, 'If we don't like what you're saying, we'll cut off your money.' "
posted by pwb503
on Feb 7, 2006 -
Engineering Perfect Americans
Were your immigrant ancestors considered genetically predisposed to become criminals? Were your mixed-ethnic ancestors thought to be polluting the nation's 'germ-plasm'? The Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement presents a well-put-together online exhibit/walkthrough of this disturbing vein in American history.
posted by Miko
on Jan 31, 2006 -
Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond.
"When I was growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the 1960s, I came to the view that God was an infantile illusion, suitable for the elderly, the intellectually feeble, and the fraudulently religious."
posted by brownpau
on Jan 24, 2006 -
Near Ovulation, Your Cheatin' Heart Will Tell on You
"New research from UCLA and the University of New Mexico suggests that members of "the gentler sex" may have evolved to cheat on their mates during the most fertile part of their cycle — but only when those mates are less sexually attractive than other men."
posted by anyokerin
on Jan 18, 2006 -
Body, volume, style and shine with long-lasting power. Clonycavan Styling Gel
, along with mummification in Irish peat, works together with your freshly disemboweled corpse to protect hair from the disruptive power of 2000 years of rigor-mortis.
posted by 0bvious
on Jan 17, 2006 -
: the lives of your grandparents – the air they breathed, the food they ate, even the things they saw – can directly affect you, decades later, despite your never experiencing these things yourself. This work
is at the forefront of a paradigm shift in scientific thinking, in which the environment can impact our health for generations to come."
posted by stbalbach
on Jan 17, 2006 -
Dogs trained to sniff out cancer. In this study which will be published in the March 2006 issue of the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies published by SAGE Publications, researchers reveal scientific evidence that a dog's extraordinary scenting ability can distinguish people with both early and late stage lung and breast cancers from healthy controls.
A BBC Four documentary will be aired soon in the US, an article and a clip from the documentary can be found here
posted by Meredith
on Jan 12, 2006 -
"Why is it that students can graduate from MIT and Harvard, yet not know how to solve a simple third-grade problem in science: lighting a light bulb with a battery and wire?" "Minds of Our Own
shows that many of the things we assume about how children learn are simply not true." Three one hour streaming video programs on teaching science. (low hassle reg. required, or try login:firstname.lastname@example.org, password:metafilter)
posted by Chuckles
on Jan 8, 2006 -
A Natural History of Peace.
Humans like to think that they are unique, but the study of other primates has called into question the exceptionalism of our species. So what does primatology have to say about war and peace? Contrary to what was believed just a few decades ago, humans are not "killer apes" destined for violent conflict, but can make their own history.
posted by semmi
on Dec 22, 2005 -
"A Helpful Hand"
- Penn & Teller call Bullshit!
on the "bestselling book in the world," the Holy Bible. (link is to entire episode approx 29mins - *language, flash)
posted by hypersloth
on Dec 14, 2005 -
The Eyes of Nye
is "Bill Nye the Science Guy
" for adults, with topics like "Cloning," "Pseudoscience," and "The Evolution of Sex" with its montage of happily fornicating animals. The topics are more serious but the humor is still there. The show's web site has video clips and extra information related to each episode. [both links use Flash]
posted by pithy comment
on Dec 13, 2005 -