Online Biology Conference This Weekend

The Alternatives to Methodological Naturalism in Biology conference is this Saturday February 25th. Since the conference is online, you can attend from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.

March for Science in Boston: Geek sign language to ponder

From Maria Gallucci at Mashable, on a March for Science event: On Sunday, thousands scientists and supporters gathered in Boston’s Copley Square to “stand up for science” under the Trump administration. … Many rally-goers were in Boston for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general […]

The Incoherence of Materialism, as Demonstrated by Ayn Rand

A friend posts this quotation from Ayn Rand: Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Rand’s conclusion is correct. […]

Could we reproduce science exactly if it all disappeared? What about religion?

From Brian Gallagher at Nautilus: Colbert, an idiosyncratic but sincere Catholic, was not really playing devil’s advocate when he challenged Gervais to an argument about the existence of God on his show. Gervais is outspoken about his disbelief and is fond of tweeting the reductio ad absurdum of various religious arguments, yet initially he seemed […]

Possibly oldest European rock art to date found in France

From Megan Gannon at LiveScience: Scrawled with the image of an aurochs (an extinct species of cattle) and dozens of small dots, the slab was created by the Aurignacians, the first Homo sapiens to arrive in Europe. Radiocarbon tests showed that the engraving dates back to about 38,000 years ago, according to a Jan. 24 […]

Announcement: Server upgrade, security tag

Some time in the next few days. Apologies for past down time and any near-future upgrade-related down time. We will at that time be introducing our security tag, so that posts will begin with the code https, instead of just http Your patience and generosity are always appreciated. Follow UD News at Twitter!

Design Disquisitions: William Dembski Moves on From ID: Some Reflections

There’s a new article posted at my blog. I know this one is old news now, but my blog wasn’t around in 2015 and didn’t see any coverage on it here or at ENV. I wanted to take note of Dembski’s decision, and some of the reaction to it. Everyone who has taken part in the […]

Yes, the new science of morality can ground moralities in science—all of them, in fact

Further to Barry Arrington: Can science ground morality?, looking at James Davison Hunter’s and Paul Nedelisky’s  Where the New Science of Morality Goes Wrong: Indeed, some believe that we are at the start of a new age, when the power of science will dispel myths surrounding morality and moral difference and establish a truly rational […]

Carlo Rovelli: Theories of everything ill-conceived but we can learn to understand quantum mechanics

From physicist Carlo Rovelli, author of Reality Is Not What It Seems:  The Journey to Quantum Gravity, interviewed by Cody Delistraty, at Nautilus: You’ve said before that space and time don’t “really exist.” Why say that? We study in school that fixed space is like a table over which things happen and time just passes. […]

Deep problem created by Darwinian Ron Fisher’s p-values highlighted again

Maybe this time it will matter. From Frank Harrell at Statistical Thinking: In my opinion, null hypothesis testing and p-values have done significant harm to science. The purpose of this note is to catalog the many problems caused by p-values. As readers post new problems in their comments, more will be incorporated into the list, […]

BBC: Human mind’s link to quantum physics is real?

From Philip Ball at BBC: Nobody understands what consciousness is or how it works. Nobody understands quantum mechanics either. Could that be more than coincidence? The problem is not that we don’t understand consciousness but that we don’t know how to understand it. And our rules may very well preclude us from finding out. Which […]

Watch nature documentaries with caution. They are often sermons, of sorts.

From Colin Dickey at New Republic: By focusing on high-definition thrills, nature documentaries obscure more than they reveal. What is a lemming, exactly? Most of us, I’m guessing, could name few of its basic biological attributes. (It’s a rodent weighing one to four ounces and measuring three to six inches in length that lives in […]

Speciation: Madeira weevils to be the new Darwin’s finches?

From ScienceDaily: The molecular analysis confirms that all Laparocerus weevils have a common evolutionary ancestor (monophyly), but could not clarify whether that ancient founding species arrived from southern Europe or northwestern Africa. The two extant Moroccan species were found to be the result of a back-colonisation from the Canary Islands to Africa, and not the […]

Peer review: Bad science justifies second-hand smoking bans?

From Jacob Grier at Slate: We Used Terrible Science to Justify Smoking Bans For three anti-smoking advocates—local physicians Richard Sargent and Robert Shepard, and activist and researcher Stanton Glantz from the University of California at San Francisco—this sudden drop in heart attacks was proof that smoking bans usher in extraordinary benefits for public health. “This […]

Tom Bethell muses on Evolution Weekend

From Tom Bethell, author of Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates, at American Spectator: The Lord’s Day, Meet Darwin Day… and Shudder – Methodological Atheism Gray told Darwin that he didn’t see why they couldn’t have both Darwin’s theory of evolution and a role for a designing intelligence. Darwin would […]

Washington Post reporter mongers fear over South Dakota academic freedom bill

And in other breaking news that’ll really surprise you, snowbanks continue to pile in Ottawa, Canada. 😉 Seriously, from Sarah Chaffee at Evolution News & Views: Strauss provokes alarm about a lack of accountability — “maverick teachers” who can teach whatever they wish. However, SB 55 offers very limited freedoms. Indeed, the language of the […]

Can Science Ground Morality?

Of course not, as we have often noted in these pages. James Davison Hunter’s and Paul Nedelisky’s  Where the New Science of Morality Goes Wrong is a great primer on the subject.  Their take down of Sam Harris is especially good: The new moral scientists sometimes provide certain examples that they think illustrate that science has […]

Cosmologist Sean Carroll: If we are Boltzmann brains, our perceptions are befuddled

In a universe where we did not evolve so as to understand reality, someone is supposed to have developed a theory by which we need not worry about the Boltzmann brain From Anil Anathaswamy at New Scientist:  Any theory that lets bizarre brains randomly pop into existence can’t be a valid description of the universe. […]

Dark matter: An invisible civilization could be living right under our noses…

From Lisa Randall at Nautilus: If we were creatures made of dark matter, we would be very wrong to assume that the particles in our ordinary matter sector were all of the same type. Perhaps we ordinary matter people are making a similar mistake. Given the complexity of the Standard Model of particle physics, which […]

Fine tuning: Van Allen belts more “bizarre” than expected

From Elizabeth Howell, offering 25 facts about our solar system that elude ready explanation: at Space.com: Earth’s Van Allen belts are more bizarre than expected Earth has bands of radiation belts surrounding our planet, known as the Van Allen belts (named after the discoverer of this phenomenon.) While we’ve known about the belts since the […]

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