“The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme” was written by Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London in 1979. Their critique of their own field of evolutionary biology spilled out of the Ivory Tower onto the pages of general intellectual forums such as the New York Review of Books. I talked by phone with Lewontin on March 2 2015. In his mid-eighties, he is still scientifically active and could recall his collaboration with Gould in detail. Our conversation is highly relevant to the “Just so story” critique that is frequently leveled against Evolutionary Psychology.
The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
Fraudulent & hoax manuscripts submitted to academic journals typically present false findings by real authors. This time, however, the paper contains real (and previously unpublished) results... by fake authors. (via retractionwatch) [more inside]
Sick Papes on Allometric Scaling of Metabolism, Growth, and Activity in Whole Colonies of the Seed‐Harvester Ant Pogonomyrmex californicus: “Dudes have been flubberbusting long and hard about whether we should think about the bees in a hive (or people in a city, or dicks in a game of dick jenga) as a wonderful communion of separate beings or as all just the dangly bits of one MegaMan. As the disturbing old saying goes, there’s many ways to skin a cat, but what perverted shitbag wants to skin a cat a bunch of different ways? So the world was on the verge of turning its back forever on this age old question and exploding in a supernova of its own ignorance. That is until some brave souls (Dr. James Waters and colleagues) figured out the illest of ways to blow the lid off a part of this problem. But let me slow my roll a bit and fill in the rubbly background that makes it crystalline just why this pape is so sick…” [more inside]
[LydiaCallisFilter] Signing Science
"The next time you hear a bird chirping outside your window, you might think twice about what’s going on inside his little birdbrain."
Are birds’ tweets grammatical? [Scientific American] But are the rules of grammar unique to human language? Perhaps not, according to a recent study, which showed that songbirds may also communicate using a sophisticated grammar—a feature absent in even our closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe of Kyoto University performed a series of experiments to determine whether Bengalese finches expect the notes of their tunes to follow a certain order.
At the beginning of last month, Scientific American unveiled a new network of 47 blogs with 55 bloggers. Their latest posts can be found here. [more inside]
Map of scientific collaboration between researchers. [ High Res] , [ zoomable version]
Related: Facebook map.
Related: Facebook map.
C0nc0rdance [sytl] asks; How far should we trust common sense? A less than 9 min video on Common Sense as it relates to Science. Enjoy.
The death of SciAm. It's no secret that print media is getting hit pretty hard, but the butchering of Scientific American seems particularly brutal. [more inside]
The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 — Authorized and funded by the U.S. government, six ships sailed with 346 men (including officers, crew, scientists, and artists) on a four-year scientific and surveying mission, logging 87,000 miles around the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Two ships and 28 men were lost, and the Expedition's contentious commander Charles Wilkes was court-martialled for his erratic behavior, and was sued by former officers and crew members. During the Civil War in 1861, he boarded a British ship, seized two Confederate agents, and nearly provoked military retaliation by England (he was court-martialled once again in 1864 for insubordination.) Wilkes' 1845 Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition and the Ex. Ex.'s journals were published by Congress, and some 40 tons of Expedition specimens and artifacts became the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution's collections. [Nathaniel Philbrick (video lecture) chronicles this almost-forgotten voyage in his 2003 book Sea of Glory (NYT review).]
Chasing women will take years off of your life. But hey, things always even out somehow. You'll just return the favor to your poor, innocent mother.
Darwin's God. "A scientific exploration of how we have come to believe in God." This article tracks the possibility that belief in a higher power is the product of evolution.
Is Airborne science or snake oil ? The official website is flashy, but short on empirical evidence, and even admits that there is "no cure" for the common cold. The first doubts were from ABC News. Then David Cowan blogged about it. Now Michael Shermer from the Scientific American, and publisher of Skeptic weighs in an article called Airborne Baloney
Test your scientific literacy. 'Do you think you know what science is? You may be surprised.'
We are because of others. We are born into this world with minds as naked as our bodies and we have to rely on others to feed, clothe us, and to teach us to think of ourselves as selves. The key is language -- grammatical speech and human culture build upon the brain's biological capacities to create a mind that is something different again than that with which we are born. We are conscious because we can speak to others and ourselves, because we can speak of ourselves to others and ourselves. Language gives us as individuals, memory, and as groups, culture, the social memory. Or so thought Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, among others. Welcome to the the neuronaut's guide to the science of consciousness.