Originally posted on Scientia Salon:
In trying to make sense of science-related issues — say, global warming, or vaccines and autism —we are often hampered by a lack of scientific expertise, and even for those us who have a science degree, our knowledge often doesn’t spread beyond the scope of our specific field. Things get murkier still when individuals and organizations represent science in the course of outreach efforts, and yet they also have more or less hidden agendas. This has become more the case in recent decades, as public science has become more politicized. Consequently, it’s now increasingly difficult for most people to see through biases and evaluate an issue objectively.
I will outline a few examples of “smoke-machines,” reflecting a spectrum of ideological biases.
(1) The American Council on Science and Health’s (ACSH) mission is to ensure that peer-reviewed mainstream science reaches the public, the media, and the decision-makers who determine public policy. Although academics from Tuft’s University School of Nutrition Science and Policy  find the ACHS’s facts…
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Originally posted on TIME:
It seems like just about everyone has watched the trailer for J.J. Abrams’ new interpretation of Star Wars, which has been viewed over 45 million times on YouTube since its late November release. Well, everyone except original Star Wars creator George Lucas.
When the New York Post asked Lucas what he thought of the trailer, the famed director responded: “I don’t know anything about it. I haven’t seen it yet.”
And he isn’t planning on watching it, “Because it’s not in the movie theater,” he explained. “I like going to the movies and watching the whole thing there. I plan to see it when its released.”
In case spoofs aren’t off limits, Lucas can tide himself over with this hilarious Saturday Night Live reinterpretation that aired over the weekend:
Originally posted on Gigaom:
If you thought you knew what high-res slow-motion video looks like, think again.
Researchers have recently captured images of biomolecular activity so slowly and in such detail that, lined up into a movie, they can reveal the activity of atoms, conceivably allowing us to peer into the world of biology on the world’s smallest scale.
Using the most brilliant X-ray flashes on the planet, an international team of scientists is reporting in the journal Science that they were able to capture images spanning just 40 femtoseconds (one femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second), turning the blink of an eye into about a hundred million epic feature films. What’s more, they say they should be able to shorten the pulse duration further still, down to just a few femtoseconds.
They also achieved a resolution of 0.16 nanometers (a nanometer being a millionth of a millimeter), resulting in what they…
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I don’t remember ever reading this piece of Belloc’s poetry. It is lovely.
Originally posted on Dover Beach:
Hoar Time about the house betakes him slow,
Seeking an entry for his weariness;
And in that dreadful company Distress
And the sad Night with silent footsteps go.
On my poor fire the brands are scarce aglow,
And in the woods without what memories press;
Where, waning in the trees from less to less,
Mysterious bangs the hornèd moon, and low.
For now December, full of aged care,
Comes in upon the yea and weakly grieves,
Mumbling his lost desires and his despair;
And with mad trembling hand still interweaves
The dank sear flower-stalks tangled in his hair,
While round about him whirl the rotten leaves.
– Hilaire Belloc
I have never read this work of MacDonald’s. If this quote proves consistent across the book, then the pleasure I have in this work will be consistent with those others’ of his I have read.
I figure that all most all of us know shame. But, how many of us know that shame is a bondage. A bondage to what keeps us bound to our past and so held hostage from the future that is possible, and simultaneously uncertain. How many of us use our shame to accomplish more than to not forge ahead but really to belong. To belong in a group we see no other means of accomplishing?
As you read this make sure that you appoint time to read Michael S. Gazzaniga’s book, “Who’s in Charge: free will and the science of the brain”
Originally posted on TIME:
One of the lively debates spawned from the neuroscience revolution has to do with whether humans possess free will, or merely feel as if we do. If we truly possess free will, then we each consciously control our decisions and actions. If we feel as if we possess free will, then our sense of control is a useful illusion—one that neuroscience will increasingly dispel as it gets better at predicting how brain processes yield decisions.
For those in the free-will-as-illusion camp, the subjective experience of decision ownership is not unimportant, but it is predicated on neural dynamics that are scientifically knowable, traceable and—in time—predictable. One piece of evidence supporting this position has come from neuroscience research showing that brain activity underlying a given decision occurs before a person consciously apprehends the decision. In other words, thought patterns leading to conscious awareness of what we’re going to do are already in…
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