Random Thoughts

The time has come for me to take my leave of Science 2.0. I would like to thank everyone for their support over the years. There were some amazing discussions and good times in a variety of ways. Thanks for all the knowledge that was freely shared, the excellent articles I was privileged to read, as well as the many displays of humor. I will miss you all, so take care and good-bye. Gerhard Adam
I don't know enough math to know if this has been precisely defined but I know enough about my ignorance of math to know that if there is such a definition I probably won't understand it.  Mathematics fails to be a universal language in most respects because mathematicians can rarely articulate their concepts in layman's language that actually makes sense.  A universal language is only universal iff the common folk can grok it too.
I think a lot about science outreach. As a non-scientist, I am simultaneously the exact person science outreach advocates say should be excited about science while a few believe my interest (along with 80% of you) in science should consist solely of paying taxes that can then go to government grants, to pay for science they can insist they are doing for us.
Applying the laws of men to murky facts is almost as hard as determining the laws of nature.   In science we have clear experimental and observational data and tease out the laws of science.   In the law the facts are in question the laws are known.  It was hard to decide but the guy clearly chopped up his wife, just kidding.  The case wasn't nearly that interesting.

Omics slapped at the end of words is the latest rage. It makes just about anything sound scientific. If someone says they read an astrology journal, for example, I might roll my eyes a little, but if they call their journal Astrolomics, well ... okay, I would still roll my eyes a little, but if they say they are attending a Beeronomics conference, they are making their way into my blog.
I haven't been on this site in a while, and in looking at a past article it strikes me that some of my previously posted views have changed. (Congratulations, right?) Normally, this is the kind of thing I'd tuck away in some cortical sulcus, but I think it's worth posting because it has got me thinking about some bigger questions. My post on commercial brain-computer interfaces from November of last year meandered around that peculiar industry for a bit and ultimately examined a study in which the authors discuss a proof-of-concept for pulling out volunteers' banking locations, ATM PINs, and the like. I ended the piece with these thoughts:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is always in conflict with itself. While it claims to care about animals, it also kills about 90% of the animals it takes in. While they advocate less meat consumption, the people they rally around that flag abuse animals with dietary quackery and forced ideology, like the recent case of a dying kitten who was non-responsive when brought to a veterinarian by its vegan owners - who told them a diet of potatoes, rice milk and pasta was killing their cat.(1) The posturing of PETA members overall is cloying, but nothing like most vegans.
A recent article suggested that many of the buttons/toggles that we experience in our daily lives don't actually do anything, but that simply reinforce an expectation and foster a superstition.

The problem with this article is that it doesn't actually offer any evidence that these buttons don't work.  I know that despite the assertion in the article, many people are skeptical about whether some buttons make a difference [i.e. close elevator door], but equally there are enough incidences that demonstrate that they do work most of the time.

It didn't take long before the Netflix dramedy hit "Orange Is The New Black" made its way into Psychology of Women Quarterly, a publication devoted to peer-reviewing the feminist science.

With all that humor and girl kissing and talk of beatdowns, you know an editor was excited about the chance to link a paper to the show in a press release - things have been rather tame, culturally, for readers and contributors there since "The L Word" went off the air. The American Psychological Association is, as always, happy to ride a cultural wave.(1)

What do anti-science groups do that science never seems to do?

Trot out naked women.

PETA - constantly, Greenpeace - sure, using cheescake to raise money for their corporate agenda is nothing new for groups that have neither data nor reason nor ethics.

But Babes Against Biotech is not even hiding behind a pretense of caring about a naturalistic fallacy. It is so ridiculous and goofy I at first assumed that some evil corporation had created it to make anti-science hippies look sexist.