Darwin’s philosopher really hates philosopher Thomas Nagel

From Jonathan Witt at Evolution News & Views: If you’re driving along and notice that a bright philosopher has just mangled beyond recognition the argument of another bright philosopher, a tap on the brakes and a bit of careful rubbernecking is in order. If you then notice that the one who has done the mangling […]

Implant allows paralyzed man to feel again

From Amy Ellis Nutt at Washington Post: For the first time, scientists have helped a paralyzed man experience the sense of touch in his mind-controlled robotic arm. For the cutting-edge experiment, a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, electrodes smaller than a grain of sand were implanted in […]

Neuroscience as if the brain were more than meat?

Oh, and the mind is an illusion that the meat somehow produces? A new book noted at Springer seems poised to try: Many believe that the language and concepts of philosophy will eventually be superseded by those of neuroscience. This collection of essays questions this assumption and attempts to show how philosophy can contribute to […]

Quantum superposition now clocked at as long as a second

From Phys.org: Physicists have implemented the first experimental demonstration of everlasting quantum coherence—the phenomenon that occurs when a quantum system exists in a superposition of two or more states at once. Typically, quantum coherence lasts for only a fraction of a second before decoherence destroys the effect due to interactions between the quantum system and […]

The multiverse again: Where what never lived can never die

From string theory skeptic Peter Woit at Not Even Wrong: The last talk of the [“C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics] event was a public talk by Ashoke Sen on What is String Theory? (slides here), one which made me think that maybe it wasn’t a bad thing that I hadn’t made it out […]

WHY many “deadly” gene mutations prove harmless

Further to Rethinking the links between genes and disease, from Erica Check Hayden at Nature: Many disease-association studies, particularly in recent years, have identified mutations as pathogenic simply because scientists performing analyses on a group of people with a disorder found mutations that looked like the culprit, but didn’t see them in healthy people. But […]

Big Pharma: How science, misused, can “create” an epidemic

From Gareth Cook at Scientific American, reviewing Alan Schwarz’s ADHD Nation: According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 5 percent of American children suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), yet the diagnosis is given to some 15 percent of American children, many of whom are placed on powerful drugs with lifelong consequences. This is […]

Cambrian era “penis worm” fossil ancestor of all living arthropods?

Seems like a bold claim re this 520 mya fossil, from Rasmus Kragh Jakobsen at ScienceNordic: A new study has described the mouth apparatus of a half billion year old fossilised carnivore, the Pambdelurion, in fine detail for the first time. In doing so, scientists have discovered that this primitive animal, discovered in Sirius Passet […]

Nature: Rethinking the links between genes and disease

Because many mutations are benign. From an editorial at Nature: One of the major findings of the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC), the largest-ever catalogue of genetic variation in the protein-coding regions of the human genome, is that many genetic mutations have been misclassified as harmful (M. Lek et al. Nature 536, 285–291; 2016). Authors of […]

Puzzle: Why are new moon craters appearing faster than expected?

From Charles Q. Choi at Space.com: New craters are forming on the surface of the moon more frequently than scientists had predicted, a new study has found. The discovery raises concerns about future moon missions, which may face an increased risk of being hit by falling space rocks. The moon is dotted with a vast […]

Endogenous retroviruses made us human?

From Carrie Arnold at Nova: One of the few survivors of the asteroid impact 65 million years ago was a small, furry, shrew-like creature that lived in underground burrows and only ventured out at night, when predators weren’t active. The critter—already the product of some 100 million years of evolution—looked like a modern mammal, with […]

From 2003: A look at coming “post-normal” science

Recently, we have covered the war on falsifiability and objectivity. A friend points us to a back to a 2003 paper that gives us t he lowdown on “post-normal science,” where common-sense approaches need not make sense any more: Post-Normal Science (PNS) is a new conception of the management of complex science-related issues. It focuses […]

We cannot upload ourselves to virtual reality…

… because we aren’t really anyone anyway, says neuroscientist. From Cody Delistraty, interviewing neurocientist Thomas Metzinger (Being No One, 2003) at Nautilus: We know there is a robust experience of self-consciousness; I don’t doubt this. The question is how could something like that emerge in evolution in an information-processing system like the human brain? Can […]

P-values: Has science got probability wrong?

From professor of pharmacology David Colquhoun at Aeon: The aim of science is to establish facts, as accurately as possible. It is therefore crucially important to determine whether an observed phenomenon is real, or whether it’s the result of pure chance. If you declare that you’ve discovered something when in fact it’s just random, that’s […]

Psychology Today: Latest new theory of consciousness

From neuroscience PhD student Joel Frohlich at Psychology Today: While it is impossible to ever truly breach this epistemological hurdle, most of us operate on the assumption that other minds exist and individuals with behavior similar to our own experience the world as we do. Accepting this axiom, meaningful questions may be asked: Which brain […]

Boldly go, and forget about the current ET buzz

From John Wenz at Astronomy News: It’s (probably) not aliens, yet again. The slightest whiff of aliens is enough to send the public into a frenzy. There have been quiet rumblings after a pre-print paper was released on ArXiv from two French-Canadian researchers who interpreted certain sky signal data to be possibly of intelligent extraterrestrial […]

Latest: Apes possess a “theory of mind”

From Catherine Caruso at Scientific American: In the study, published Thursday in Science, a team of scientists recorded the eye movements of three great ape species while the animals watched videos of a man searching for a hidden object that had been moved without his knowledge, and found that they looked more frequently at the […]

Conference: Beyond Materialism, Cambridge, November 12, 2016

To be held at Hughes Hall, Cambridge University. Full details are here: Book here. Note: It doesn’t cost a lot but tickets are limited. Conference Description Since Darwin, biology has been dominated by a bottom-up, materialistic framework in which living things are ultimately derived from undirected physical processes — at the origin of life itself — […]

OOL researchers: A little goo will do to get RNA and DNA to progress toward self-replication.

From ScienceDaily: The original recipe for gene soup may have been simple — rain, a jumble of common molecules, warm sunshine, and nighttime cooling. Then add a pinch of thickener. The last ingredient may have helped gene-like strands to copy themselves in puddles for the first time ever, billions of years ago when Earth was […]

Wikileaks hits the jackpot: “. . . an unaware and compliant citizenry”

This issue is directly relevant to the ID controversy, but also to much more of what has gone wrong with our civilisation and the utter, stark peril we now face because we ignored warning signs for decades: This has to be decoded a bit, as it is of course in the usual context of our […]

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