Dialogue: Rupert Sheldrake vs. Michael Shermer

Just in: Through the months of May, June, and July of 2015, TheBestSchools.org is hosting an intensive dialogue on the nature of science between Rupert Sheldrake and Michael Shermer. This first month, the focus is on materialism in science. Dr. Sheldrake will defend that science needs to free itself from materialist dogma; indeed, science misunderstands […]

New Scientist wants money to tell us if they think fine-tuning is real

Here: For much of our existence on Earth, we humans thought of ourselves as a pretty big deal. Then along came science and taught us how utterly insignificant we are. We aren’t the centre of the universe. We aren’t special. We are just a species of ape living on a smallish planet orbiting an unremarkable […]

Conifers: Darwinism can explain anything if you believe hard enough

Devolution? From ScienceDaily: A new study offers not only a sweeping analysis of how pollination has evolved among conifers but also an illustration of how evolution — far from being a straight-ahead march of progress — sometimes allows for longstanding and advantageous functions to become irrevocably lost. Moreover, the authors show that the ongoing breakdown […]

Design inference in the Hugo sci-fi awards?

Here: The “Hugos” are widely called the most prestigious awards in the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing. They are awarded every year by a vote of the membership of the World Science Fiction Convention, which SF fans have called “Worldcon” since time immemorial. Starting three years ago, Larry Correia, successful science fiction writer, […]

Aurelio Smith’s Analysis of Active Information

Recently, Aurelio Smith had a guest publication here at Uncommon Descent entitled Signal to Noise: A Critical Analysis of Active Information. Most of the post is taken up by a recounting of the history of active information. He also quotes the criticisms of Felsentein and English which have responded to at Evolution News and Views: These Critics […]

Guest Post: Constancy of Self in Light of Near Death Experiences – A Disproof of Materialism

The following is a guest post be nkendall: One of the striking things about our experience as conscious, thinking humans is how constant our sense of self–our identity–is. Never in my life has there been any suspension or change of my conscious sense of who I am other than during sleep. Throughout our lives our […]

FYI-FTR: To JF (attn EL) on fitness functions, islands of function & bridging active information

Overnight, HT Mung, this was drawn to my attention: JF, TSZ: At the UD thread there were some loud dismissals of models that had genotypes and a fitness surface. It was declared that these genetic algorithms weren’t models of evolution. Actually DEM called such models “evolutionary search”, so they don’t seem to agree with the […]

Three diverse animals independently arrived at maximal fin speed solution

From ScienceDaily: Moving one’s body rapidly through water is a key to existence for many species. The Persian carpet flatworm, the cuttlefish and the black ghost knifefish look nothing like each other — their last common ancestor lived 550 million years ago, before the Cambrian period — a new study uses computer simulations, a robotic […]

Peer review “very good at sifting mediocre papers”

Measuring the effectiveness of scientific gatekeeping Significance Peer review is an institution of enormous importance for the careers of scientists and the content of published science. The decisions of gatekeepers—editors and peer reviewers—legitimize scientific findings, distribute professional rewards, and influence future research. However, appropriate data to gauge the quality of gatekeeper decision-making in science has […]

300 mya vampire squid has quite different reproduction from other squid

From ScienceDaily: While other squid reproduce all at once late in their lives, vampire squid appear to alternate between reproductive and resting phases. It’s a pattern of multiple spawning more common among fish. The researchers have now characterized the reproductive status of more than 40 vampire squid females. They report that one female in the […]

Neanderthals didn’t die out because modern hunting weapons were better?

This month, the Neanderthals died out because they couldn’t harness fire and last month wolves helped current humans kill off Neanderthals (as noted at the time, these theses are vulnerable to the first Neanderthal burial that turns up a wolfhound skeleton and/or the remains of fires. Anyway, there is a cottage industry of speculations as […]

Mathematician Peter Woit on how things have changed re quantum gravity

Changed sociologically, that is. Here: These days, things have changed. If you’re at Perimeter, prominent activities include: This week’s conference on a very technical issue in string theory, superstring perturbation theory. This month’s course of lectures on Explorations in String Theory. The next public lecture will feature Amanda Peet promoting string theory. Peet has been […]

Naturalism may explain religion – provided it is naturalist religion

From: Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain: Regarding the phenomenon of religion, here are two curious things: When naturalists (materialists) study religion, they get so many basic facts wrong, one wonders why they bother, except to bolster their own view. Second, they mainly study “revealed” religion, where the […]

Sociobiologist Robert Trivers offers vignettes of Darwin’s saints

Trivers. Vignette of Stephen Jay Gould here (a reluctant Darwinian, so Trivers doesn’t like him): As I left his office, I said to myself, this fool thinks he is bigger than natural selection. Perhaps I should have said, bigger than Darwin, but I felt it as bigger than natural selection itself—surely Stephen was going for […]

A new ocean mystery: Bacterium allegedly doesn’t make sense

Life forms always make sense. Some theories do not. From Phys.org: By sequencing multiple Trichodesmium genomes—and using a wide variety of samples to ensure that there was no error—researchers found that only about 63 percent of the bacteria’s genome is expressed as protein. That’s an incredibly low amount for a bacterium and unheard of for […]

So the Cambrian really was an explosion then?

The preceding Ediacaran life forms (635 to 542 mya) were gone already? Eaten up by early Cambrians (542 to 513 mya)? From New Scientist: The disappearance of the Ediacarans from the fossil record has long troubled biologists. Leading theories are a catastrophic mass extinction, that Ediacarans got eaten or had their habitat destroyed by newly […]

Paywalled article in New Scientist on the paranormal?

From New Scientist: The term “parapsychology” can raise eyebrows. Do you encounter opposition to what you do? There is occult baggage attached to the field, which is really not related to what we actually do. We are scientists. Sometimes other scientists describe parapsychology as a pseudoscience, and that’s unfair. I’ll stick my neck out and […]

Oh, not this again… Is the universe a hologram?

From ScienceDaily: “If quantum gravity in a flat space allows for a holographic description by a standard quantum theory, then there must by physical quantities, which can be calculated in both theories — and the results must agree,” says Grumiller. Especially one key feature of quantum mechanics -quantum entanglement — has to appear in the […]

Does your method work because of or in spite of your theory?

At his blog, Curious Wavefunction, Ash Jogalekar* muses on the thinking of chemistry Nobelist John Pople (1998): But one of the simpler problems with training sets is that they are often incomplete and miss essential features that are rampant among the real world’s test sets (more pithily, all real cows as far as we know are […]

Donall and Conall Meet Richard Dawkins

Hans Fiene’s video here brought to mind our recent exchanges on the nature of evidence in these pages. Be sure to watch to the end past the credits.

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