Placebo Buttons?

A recent article suggested that many of the buttons/toggles that we experience in our daily lives...

The Development Of Social Monogamy In Mammals

Two papers published this week have proposed explanations regarding the evolution of social monogamy...

Easy Answers To World Problems

After reading another article by Alex Berezow ["The Arrogance of a Well-Fed Society"] insisting...

The Precautionary Principle Review

There is an interesting series of articles published by the Guardian discussing various aspects...

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Gerhard AdamRSS Feed of this column.

I'm not big on writing things about myself so a friend on this site (Brian Taylor) opted to put a few sentences together: Hopefully I'll be able to live up to his claims. "I thought perhaps you... Read More »



May 24 2013 | comment(s)

I recently read an article about an individual that had been struck by lightning, while it was interesting to read about the experience it was disturbing to read some of the comments that followed and their gross misunderstanding of lightning.

In particular the following comment illustrates the problem.
Lightning happens when a really huge negative charge builds up in the ground, corresponding to a positive charge overhead, and the differential becomes sufficient to jump the gap. (and, as others are pointing out repeatedly, air is an excellent insulator, so it takes a whacking huge voltage differential to make the arc.)
As has been mentioned in other articles, evolution is one of the more misunderstood theories ‌in biology.  This isn't because it is complicated.  Its beauty derives from its simplicity, but often the nuances that are overlooked.  

We hear about "survival of the fittest" and many immediately think of strength.  We hear about natural selection and many immediately focus on speciation.  Yet, the first claim is simply wrong, while the second isn't the most important element of the theory.

So, if it's not about strength or how species originated, then what is important.
Well there's a new article "May Atheism Succeed Demographically" that has invoked another variant of social Darwinism, yet again.

Certainly there are many situations in which one might utilize the concept of evolution, in describing a variety of scenarios.  In general, the point may be to demonstrate that something changes over time, usually with the perspective that it may be improving or adapting to some situation, although such a directionality is not a requirement. 
With the recent rescue of three young women in Cleveland, held for over a decade by a kidnapper, we are now subject to the useless speculations of the media.

Why the news media feels compelled to ask inane questions and foment greater misunderstandings isn't clear.
Intelligent Design is often presented as a view that runs counter to evolutionary theory.  Whether it be the concept of natural selection or ideas about speciation, Intelligent Design (ID) purports to reconcile the observed environment from the perspective of an intelligent ordering system.

Concepts like "irreducible complexity" to examples of finding a watch or a tornado spontaneously assembling a 747 in a junkyard.  All these images are invoked by Intelligent Design as an argument against evolution.
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
In light of some recent posts that have introduced an increasingly diverse set of viewpoint through music links, I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of music surfaces.  So, I don't have any specific criteria, except that whatever song you post it should be one that has somehow impacted your thinking, or been something you consider influential on yourself.

Perhaps it will introduce some new music to people, or help in conducting an informal study about what the general themes are that people post.

I'll begin with four that I have always felt were a significant influence [yeah ... today is a Rundgren kind of day].

Trouble Coming Every Day