Tag: Science

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The Harris-Klein Debate and Benefit of the Doubt

 

Jacob Falkovich, of PutANumOnIt fame, published a post-mortem on the Harris-Klein debate over IQ and race in Quillette. Not just the Quillette article, but the blog post inspiring it, The Context is the Conflict, are both worth a read. As Falkovich sees it, the Harris-Klein debate was merely one example of conflicting forms of political reasoning, pitting those who see political opponents as mistaken against those who see political opposition as conflict, and also pitting cognitive decoupling against contextualizing. To summarize the story the way Falkovich sees it, Sam Harris tells Ezra Klein, “Ezra, it’s dishonest of you to be so concerned with the social implications of the data that you discount what the data has to say,” and Klein shoots right back, “Sam, it’s dishonest of you to be so concerned with what the data allegedly says that you discount its social implications,” that is, whose interest is served by treating the data in question as reputable, and whose interests are harmed.

Both Klein and Harris have a point. We on the right are fairly open in our mistrust of “scientism,” after all. We know that, no matter how much data might seem to speak for itself, the scientific validity of data can’t be entirely separated from the nonscientific interests of the ones gathering, analyzing, publishing, and popularizing the data. Who funded a study, we wonder? Would funding have biased it? Was one study widely reported on while studies contradicting it were not; reflecting media bias? We aren’t fools for asking these questions, merely fools if we take them to their paranoid extreme: at some point, data must matter, even though it’s collected and interpreted by biased humans. Nonetheless, we suspect, probably rightly, that even good science can’t be wholly divorced from its social implications once it’s fodder for political dispute.

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How to Build a Computer 4: Diodes and Transistors

 

We all love blasting things with ions, and most of us could spend all day shooting at wafers, but eventually someone is going to ask you to build something useful. What am I doing with all this mess of silicon anyhow? Here’s where we see the use of all that stuff. What do you suppose happens when you put a p-doped chunk of silicon next to an n-doped chunk of silicon?

One last cookie photo, then I’m going on a diet. Swearsies.

Diodes to Kill For

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Heather Mac Donald joins Brian Anderson to discuss how universities and the scientific community are being pressured to alter the gender and racial balance in STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and math—and the implications for America’s future.

For decades, multiculturalism, quotas, and identity politics have been pervasive in humanities departments at most major universities—but not in scientific fields. Now that’s changing, as the identity-politics obsession has penetrated STEM programs, and administrators, professors, and other officials attempt to increase the number of women and minorities in the field, by almost any means necessary. As Mac Donald writes, this pressure is “changing how science is taught and how scientific qualifications are evaluated. The results will be disastrous for scientific innovation and for American competitiveness.”

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Technology Defeats Climate Change

 

I’ve written about the scientific basis for why I’m skeptical about catastrophic anthropogenic climate change before — have fun reading that one! — but if you didn’t find my rationale convincing, the reasons to ignore catastrophists are really piling up. If it’s true that “tomorrow’s technologies will solve today’s problems,” we live in an age of wonders.

Why is that? Harvard scientists have announced the invention of an energy-efficient means of carbon capture:

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Quote of the Day: Celebrity in Science

 

When a man after long years of searching chances on a thought which discloses something of the beauty of this mysterious universe, he should not therefore be personally celebrated. He is already sufficiently paid by his experience of seeking and finding. In science, moreover, the work of the individual is so bound up with that […]

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“Making America toxic again,” as one publication suggested, or a public servant dedicated to paring honest science and environmental stewardship? Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, stops by to explain how the Trump Administration has reoriented the EPA, its highlights and priorities, and how a former college baseball player deals with political hardball in the nation’s capital.

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Video of the Day: The Science Delusion

 

Rupert Sheldrake is a controversial figure in the Scientific community. I am not sold on his theory of morphic resonance. However, some of the phenomenon he presents in this talk are worth pondering. We who lean right understand the politics and its influence on science, as seen in the realm of climate science. We also […]

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Crede, Ut Intelligas,

 

Believe, so that you may understand. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. The Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC brings us this: More

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The Moon Landing: Take One

 

First off: Apologies. Apologies to NASA, to anyone who worked on the Apollo missions. Apologies to those on this site who really get a kick out of geology, physics, astronomy, atoms, … cells… nucleic stuff….periodic table….zzzzz…I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yes, science stuff. I find those subjects a little dry, but thank God many […]

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Thermodynamics of the Martini

 

Yesterday, a fine piece on Lawrence of Arabia occasioned a number of comments, which somehow eventuated in a brief discussion of the relative merits of poetry and thermodynamics. This prompted me to weigh in with the following, for whatever it may be worth:   More

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The Ethics of Abortion?

 

Watch this: More

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Teleportation? Naw . . .

 

I’ll believe this when I can teleport a beer from my fridge into my coozy while watching a football game. http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/07/11/space-breakthrough-scientists-teleport-photon-from-earth-to-orbit.html More

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From Mad Cows to Granny’s Memorial – “Green Cremation”

 

Also called “water cremation”, “resomation”, and “biocremation”, this procedure disposes of corpses in much the same way Drano dissolves clogs, namely alkaline hydrolysis. The alkaline hydrolysis of fats is familiar to us as saponification, or soapmaking. But hot lye solution attacks more than just the body’s fats. It attacks all the body’s organic material, dissolving […]

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Snakes on a Plane – Academics vs the TSA, round n+1

 

The airport security line has ground to a standstill. Again. Some bozo packed a giant plastic penis in his carry-on, and of course the bozos working for the TSA couldn’t resist. From the depths of the man’s carry-on, one TSA worker unsheathes “this mouse penis by its base, like it was Excalibur.” Yep. A Gigantic. Plastic. Mouse. Penis. 3-D printed.

If it makes you feel any better, it’s for science. The biologist carrying it is on his way to a two-day conference, and so has no checked luggage. Other times, scientists carry on stuff that can’t go into the cargo hold even when they’re checking luggage. Permits issued to biologists to collect live specimens may stipulate the specimens must be hand-carried onto planes. Other live specimens simply don’t travel well in cargo holds. A duffel bag full of ants. Live frogs in Tupperware containers. Roaches. These things:

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Winning through Ricochet – and Knowing What You’ve Lost

 

Ah, collagen. The most abundant protein in animals. Great for cooking into rich sauces – and glue (hence the name). It gives structure to mammals’ extracellular space. Your skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, mucous membranes, cartilage, bones, and teeth all depend on collagen for strength. When our collagen lets us down, we can expect trouble.

Several diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to scurvy, are connective-tissue diseases. Several attack our abundant collagen specifically. Sometimes, though, collagen weakens not because it’s under attack, but because it never formed right to begin with. Several genes have been identified as causing Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), congenitally weakened cartilage, and several genes remain to be discovered. The worst types of EDS are super-weird, and super-scary. Your silly-putty skin could be so loose and stretchy that it’s obvious from birth you’d be a freak-show star, pulling your neck skin over your face for strangers’ amusement. Or maybe your joints dislocate so easily you’d join the circus as a contortionist, disarticulating yourself for cold, hard cash. Or maybe EDS causes your organs to explode, far less marketable but still super-scary. Many of us, if we’ve heard of EDS at all, have more reason to think “circus freak” than “subtle.”

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A Few Thoughts on Science

 

So the big march “in support of Science!” happened. I skipped it, since it was an obvious and transparent attempt to appropriate “science” for the political left. The whole self-regarding spectacle stank of red herring. The red herring being, of course, that conservatives are a bunch of snake-handling backwoodsmen who hate science. Or something. I have it on first-hand authority that there were many placards along the lines of “Evolution doesn’t care if you believe.” Very true. But it didn’t occur to the placard-carriers that if evolution doesn’t care, then carrying the placard is rather pointless. Unless you are a professional working biologist, loudly proclaiming your belief in evolution is useful for precisely one thing: social status positioning.

I am a big fan of basic science, including science that promises little in the way of practical returns. For example, on a strictly ROI basis, our considerable spending on research in cosmology and astrophysics has been a terrible investment. On this basis there is no way to justify something like the Hubble Space Telescope. Yes, it has increased our knowledge of the universe on the macro scale. But it is difficult to justify this cost as an investment – basically it’s consumption. The same is true of the manned space program. It cost a huge amount of money, and, despite all the promises of great new zero-g drugs and so forth, it has been basically a luxury bauble that we as a nation purchased to adorn ourselves, not an investment in an economic sense. (You could call it the Hubble Bauble.) In fact, the manned space program is much worse from an investment standpoint than the Hubble, because it hasn’t even gotten us very far in terms of basic science, let alone paid for itself economically.

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My Contributions to Science

 

The discoveries keep piling up, and since science journals insist on sending me form letters saying my work is “not up to their standards” and needs to be “peer reviewed,” whatever that means, I decided to submit my work to a more appreciative audience. Dogs and Numeracy More

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Modernity as a Delaying Tactic

 

The moral realm can be defined as that area where we determine not only what is but what human action ought to be. It is also notable for being perhaps the only part of human life in which we are able to weigh the options and use our free will to make a decision. Aesthetics are more […]

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