Recently in Science Category

Anti-biotics and Pesticides

September 11, 2011

The organic-bandwagon (and "green" in general) can often seem like a holier-than-thou verbal assault to the average consumer who does not take production processes into account when making purchasing decisions. Moralizing and preaching from the crunchy-granola crowd is not appreciated. And yet there is a point to it all, and we granola eaters need to be armed not merely with facts but also empathy and moderation. That said, often times we are armed merely with anecdote and conjecture, not even fact. Two recent pieces of research present compelling additional facts behind American society's – and by extension, increasingly the world's – over-reliance on technology without consideration of the long term effects:

  1. Over-use of anti-biotics in children have been linked to increases in asthma, obestity, and various diseases; in response, we simply need to be much more careful about our use of anti-biotics, which are frequently employed as a placebo in viral cases. LA Times covarge, full essay is in Nature, whose August 25th podcast has a good briefing.
  2. Consumption of pesticide-tainted foods has now been found to be a risk-factor in development of ADHD; the clear response is to consume organic foods. MSNBC coverage

The Descent Into Nihilism

December 26, 2007

Salon is carrying a terrific interview, titled The atheist delusion, with of all people a Catholic theologian. His is an analysis that I've been wanting to be brilliant enough to make about the three atheists, and the concept of science and/vs. religion in general. One of the issues he brings up is the concept of extreme atheism leading to nihilism, as demonstrated in the works of Nietzshe, Sartre, and Camus. I want to add one more person to his list: Dostoyevsky.

Response to "Is Religion Man-Made?"

June 26, 2007

Judging by everything I have read, in Stanley Fish's blog (NYT TimeSelect only) and elsewhere, about the 3 Atheists ' [Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris] arguments, it seems that most of their them pertain to ancient religious trends and do not necessarily address contemporary religion. So what if wheelbarrows might have been amazing to the (many) authors of the Bible? We humans still find existential consolation in many of their fine observations about our many natures (cf Ehrlich Human Natures). So humanity has progressed since that time. Likewise has religion progressed.

Cultural Evolution, Feedback, Things to Ponder

May 10, 2007

The notion of cultural evolution is one I've been wanting to explore further in this space, particularly after reading Paul Ehrlich's Human Natures (hopefully one day soon I'll manage to write a review of this excellent work). If you're not familiar with the concept, the gist is this: Homo sapiens, as all other life forms, has evolved to its present state through a process of genetic evolution. This process is described by neo-Darwinian evolution theory. Unlike other creatures — or to be more precise, to an extent light-years beyond any other living being — H. sapiens has added a second component of social evolution. In this component, DNA and genes are not the sole drivers of human evolution. These are augmented by culture.

Conversations on Faith and Science

March 14, 2007

Continuing on the theme of science and religion...

  • Lunging, Flailing Mispunching, a friend's blog posting on Richard Dawkins and why it is good that we ask "why" and not just "how"
  • Darwin's God, a New York Times Magazine article on evolutionary/anthropological approaches to belief. Evaluates the main two camps: the byproduct theory and the adaptionist theory. Is religion a byproduct of other conditions that led to genetic fitness, or is it per se inducing of reproductive fitness? I'm definitely in the latter camp, believing strongly that religion influences culture influences genetics. Witness development of lactose tolerance in certain cultures.
  • God and gorillas, an article I haven't actually read yet but have on good authority is worth it. "Anthropologist Barbara J. King explains what our distant cousins can tell us about religion and why it's OK for scientists to believe in God."

Science vs. Religion: A Way Forward

January 18, 2007

Way back in November I had entry discussing "science vs. religion", lamenting the growing "evangelism" of science. Since then I've been meaning to followup with a continuing theme of fundamentalism: specifically, agreeing that religious fundamentalism often stands in the way of applying scientific progress to social development and knowledge. I do not argue that with this group of arch-atheists. Perhaps I will come back to that theme another time. But today I want to look at the way forward — agreement on climate change.

Science vs. Religion, pt 1

November 20, 2006

I just came back from a wonderful interfaith dialogue that brought together a large number of each of Christians, Jews, and Muslims as well as a couple of Bahá'ís (but no Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. for some reason). I was reminded and really struck by one of the common elements that is found in the highest spiritual essence of every major religion — the importance of treating our fellow humans with dignity and respect, of greeting the stranger with hospitality and working together for our common betterment.

The Return of Race

March 15, 2005

For years I have heard people declare that there is "no such thing as race" and been uncomfortable with that bold declaration. While the intentions are pure — by removing race, one ostensibly removes the reasons for discrimination — and science has by and large agreed, I've always asked myself: "if there is no such thing as race, how come I can tell with 99% certainty what continent, and often what region, almost anyone's ancestors come from?" In the op-ed A Family Tree in Every Gene, evolutionary biologist Armand Marie Leroi takes on this notion by demonstrating the biological evidence for race and the modern medical and sociological implications thereof.

Cold Fusion and Alternative Energy

September 16, 2004

Though historically I've not read many blogs, I've been poking around looking for good news sources to add to my news feeds in the new Mozilla Firefox pr1. My slumming has turned an interesting piece on the future of cold fusion over at Popular Science.

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