Posts tagged science

Posted 3 months ago

On the genetics revolution and race

How surprising: a conservative media outlet is championing a (poorly researched) book about race and genetics. 

Let’s set the record straight: the author isn’t a geneticist, he’s a writer about science. That doesn’t make his conclusion’s wrong, but it should alert you to a key detail: does he actually understand the science he’s writing about? The answer is a very simple no. And I have nothing against the author for being wrong, people are often wrong. But holy crap, the way media just latches onto what it wants to be true is disturbing. 

The first problem with the author’s book is that it’s not actually uncovering anything new! It’s making a vague claim about scientific possibility. Is it scientifically conceivable that there is a genetic (therefore biological) difference associated with race? Sure. Is it conceivable that this genetic difference leads to differences in behavior and outcomes? Sure. 

But there’s no evidence. And the evidence the author tries to cite is horribly butchered misinterpretations of the research geneticists are doing. He references the Ashkenazi Jews and their high IQs and how they share a genetic similarity across them as perhaps indicating genetic inheritance of racial traits. Is it plausible that this genetic similarity explains their high IQs? Sure. Is that what the research actually indicates? NO. There’s so many other explanations, the research was only a small sub-section of Ashkenazi Jews and not extrapolable to the entire population and it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of social or cultural inheritance.

The modern state of genetic research and race is that RACIAL adaptations are not really a thing. The genetic variance between members of the same race is very high. There IS evidence of people in close proximity having genetic similarities, but we knew that already. That’s not the same thing as racially-based genetic inheritance. The two claims are vastly different.

So all the author really managed to do was point out a possibility and selectively cite some research that he then misinterprets (you can ask the geneticists that actually did the research) to defend a possibility. And right-wing media man here is off talking about a revolution and the dark forces of the left that refuse to consider true genetic research. 

Hopefully the geneticists come out of the wood-works to defend their research. 

Posted 6 months ago

The Evolution of the Brain Indicates Purpose behind Evolution

panatmansam:

A University of Chicago study confirms the long conjectured hypothesis that the human brain did not evolve in the way once thought. Our brains underwent a “special event” about 50,000 years ago in which several mutations occurred each favoring consciousness over a very short, impossibly short…

You’re discussion of the article is extremely misleading.

The researchers themselves never suggest anything as preposterous as it being impossible for human brains to have evolved so quickly. The authors of the paper say that it is clear that humans faced intense evolutionary pressure (selective force) for larger, more complex brains. They also point out that this isn’t unique to humans: macaques also faced intense pressure for larger more complex brains than mice. The human lineage just happened to have more intense selective pressures than macaques. 

That this implies “choice” or “purpose” in evolution is a compeletly unfounded claim that none of the researchers ever made, and the vast majority of the scientific community would not make. 

Posted 7 months ago

Reading up on quantum physics again…

If I did believe in such a thing, this would be the face of god, and here I am, blessed with the grace to have even a glimpse upon it. It fills me with great wonder. 

Posted 8 months ago

Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS

So if math is just human knowledge that would mean aliens would probably never understand math the way we do. And they might have their own math-type thing. *mind asplodes*

Posted 8 months ago

Why does the placebo effect work?

I loved that question! I never thought about it. Interesting explanation, too. 

Posted 1 year ago

: I saw what people were saying about you not understanding Atheism and...

bleachedjam:

I saw what people were saying about you not understanding Atheism and I kinda have some additional information that both sides on the topic of theism should be able to agree to if they are actually thinking about their religious beliefs complexly.

Belief in a creator, divine or not, is not…

In response (“you” referring to submission’s author):

I wouldn’t call it the same thing as faith (for science), but I know the reasoning you’re using. We have nothing but our imperfect perception to verify things to begin with, so we inherently deal with elements of uncertainty. 

Science differs though by embracing uncertainty through continuous discovery. That it is imperfect is a given. It’s part of the design of science. That’s why there are such things as inventing new fields of math or making new tools to do science with. By the nature of this structure, science is inherently self-correcting over time. And it has explained a lot of phenomena accurately.

Perhaps the “explanation” we see is somehow marred because it’s based only our perception of the accuracy. But at the end of the day, what else really matters? We built rockets to the moon and made cures for diseases. Maybe there is some higher-order truth we’ve misunderstood.

But pragmatically: it works. When we find something that works even better, I’ll be happy to support that, too. 

Posted 1 year ago

whycatholicism:

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”  - Richard Dawkins

This is an example of a catchy but ultimately meaningless slogan so characteristic of the fundamentalist atheism of recent years. It’s a declarative statement with no rationale or basis in reality. Even a cursory glance at the contributions deeply religious people have made to our understanding of the world proves this catch phrase to be wrong. 

You misattribute the contributions of religious people for the contributions of religion. It’s not like the Catholic Institution embraced Galileo. 

Posted 1 year ago

It’s been awhile since I blew this statement apart. Once again, shall we have a go!?

1) What you’ve stated is not atheism. Atheism is merely disbelief in gods

2) what you stated is actually scientific ideas, including the big bang, gravity, nuclear forces and other basic physics (the magical rearrangement), and abiogenesis + evolution.

3) If you have a problem with science, GO MAKE BETTER SCIENCE. It would also help if you understood what you’re criticizing first.

Posted 1 year ago

Sublime lines bring refined minds.: The sources of knowledge.

as-saleem:

rasa2013:

as-saleem:

There are 3 sources of definitive knowledge.

1. The sound mind. That is, your logic. Knowing a daughter cannot give birth to her mother for example. It is not something that needs data or experimentation. It is a known absolute fact, by default. And at no time in the future or the past will it…

You’re talking about scientists not atheists. And those are not sources of definitive knowledge. The reason we use science is BECAUSE large groups of people using their 5 senses are extremely fallible. We have too many cognitive biases and sensory illusions and cognitive limitations for those to qualify as definitive knowledge. 

Ultimately, it’s the theists are making claims about the universe anyway. But don’t let that fact obscure the fact that your ideas of what are definitive truths is wrong.

So, you are saying what humans perceive is too fallible, so rather, we rely on technology made by those fallible individuals. Technology which is vastly inferior to the ones that made it. That is actually even less reliable.

"Vastly inferior." incorrect. Technology can reliably do things that humans cannot. For example, technology can capture images in the infrared or ultraiviolet spectrum of light. Technology can pick up low-frequency or high-frequency sound humans cannot hear. Technology reliably does what we program it to do, and we can program it to do things that we ourselves cannot do. 

The reason this is possible is because we are self-conscious and do have cognitive ability. Combining those two abilities, we are capable of analyzing our own limitations and devising ways to overcome them through technology. It’s well within our cognitive ability to do that. 

What is impossible, at present, is for us to overcome our cognitive and sensory limitations without technology. Our “biological machinery” just isn’t equipped to do that. We can temporarily overcome some things by focusing, but our capacity to focus is limited (we get tired).

As for machines being inferior, they are neither inferior nor superior. They are just different. Machines are made for a specific purpose and excel at that purpose. Saying a human cannot create a machine that is superior in a specific realm would be to deny that we have boats (they definitely “swim” better than us) or to deny machines that build thousands of times faster than we can. 

Posted 1 year ago

Sublime lines bring refined minds.: The sources of knowledge.

as-saleem:

There are 3 sources of definitive knowledge.

1. The sound mind. That is, your logic. Knowing a daughter cannot give birth to her mother for example. It is not something that needs data or experimentation. It is a known absolute fact, by default. And at no time in the future or the past will it…

You’re talking about scientists not atheists. And those are not sources of definitive knowledge. The reason we use science is BECAUSE large groups of people using their 5 senses are extremely fallible. We have too many cognitive biases and sensory illusions and cognitive limitations for those to qualify as definitive knowledge. 

Ultimately, it’s the theists are making claims about the universe anyway. But don’t let that fact obscure the fact that your ideas of what are definitive truths is wrong.