Tag Archives: 西湖阁论坛外网

Political Science 101: Doubt Scientific Claims

first_imgScience goes through a chain of messengers from data to consumer.  In between are fallible scientists, who speak often in incomprehensible jargon and often only partially understand what they observe, but often wish to gain notoriety with a major discovery (or need to publish or perish).  Next, the institutional press offices decide what is significant and try to digest the jargon to layman level.  The predigested stories are then delivered to science reporters, who sometimes sensationalize the filtered stories to make a name for themselves.  Finally, the media outlets, prone to peer biases, dress up the products to grab the eyes of readers of their newspapers, magazines, or web pages.  How much of the real scientific data remains at the end of this game of Telephone?  Sometimes the bias is clearly evident, but often the product is delivered with all the presumptive authority of science.  Once in awhile, a reporter comes clean about the dirty work involved. First, a lesson from history.  “This year is Galton year –a celebration of Francis Galton, a genius – but a flawed genius,” Steve Jones wrote for the BBC News.  Galton’s accomplishments, such as weathermaps and fingerprinting for detective work, have been overshadowed by his darker side as the father of eugenics, popular in its heydey, but viewed today with the perspective of history as a disastrous social quest to purify the race of the unfit.  Galton also created an “ugly map” of Britain to help men avoid bad genes.  He left an enormous sum of money at his death for the Laboratory of National Eugenics at University College London – later abandoned by the University, though it retains a Galton professorship.  Francis Galton had good press in his time; today, his reputation is clouded.  It’s a lesson that the tides of history can change the prestige of a scientist and his ideas. Speaking of prestige, there’s a fringe group of scientists who deserve more, according to William Laurance writing in New Scientist.  These are the cryptobiologists: searchers for extinct or weird animals.  “Yes, they chase bizarre creatures and flit around the fringes of conventional science,” he said, “but we ought to appreciate their adventurous spirit rather than be disdainful.”  The prestige comes if and when they find something.  There have been successes: the “coelacanth, mountain pygmy possum, venomous Cuban solenodon and giant terror skink” among them. One can imagine any given reporter giving a cryptobiologist good or bad press, depending on his or her bias. Among those getting the worst press in science media these days are the creationists.  No attempt at covering bias was shown by an entry on PhysOrg, “Creationism creeps into mainstream geology.” The headline might have pointed out that a leading creationist with a legitimate PhD in paleontology led a successful field trip in Colorado at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, but instead, used a creepy verb and the ideological suffix -ism, while rarely applying the suffix to evolutionism.  The article was filled with allusions to conspiracy and unscrupulous motives: “crafty” new “strategy” to pretend acceptance among “mainstream” scientists.  As history shows, tides can turn, as well they might, if Darwinians continue to swim upstream against public opinion armed with nothing but leaking waterwings of just-so stories.  In the climate of controversy surrounding intelligent design, presidential candidates need to guard their language carefully, as David Klinghoffer and Jay Richards advised in American Spectator. Controversial subjects are good places to watch for science bias.  New Scientist wrote about “abuse, threats and hysteria” between scientists, politicians and the public in Australia over the issue of “climate science.”  Not being quite as politically lopsided and ideology prone as creation vs. evolution, climate science has provided a bonanza for sociologists, philosophers and lay observers to watch humans behaving badly when it comes to claims of scientific authority. Hannah Nordhaus is one science reporter who has spilled the beans about reporter bias.  Writing for Breakthrough Journal, she described how prepared she was to tar-and-feather big business for the collapse of honeybee colonies.  Ready to take up Rachel Carson’s banner with the environmentalists, she was hindered from publishing by personal circumstances, but watched other colleagues go at it.  Then she researched the story and found that, like most things in science, the subject is far more complex and nuanced than that.  She even found reporters using a fraudulent quote by Einstein, failing to research adequately, and committing other egregious journalistic sins, excused because it was perceived to be a noble cause.  She saw similar excursions into journalistic license with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Ending with a sermon for her colleagues, she wrote, “By engaging in simplistic and sometimes misleading environmental narratives —  by exaggerating the stakes and brushing over the inconvenient facts that stand in the way of foregone conclusions­­ — we do our field, and our subjects, a disservice.” Exercise: Compare and contrast the Breakthrough Journal take on the oil spill with that of National Geographic, which alleged faulty science on the part of the BP oil company and other experts.  What facts were included or ignored to give the desired slant?  What questions were asked or not asked? Creation-Evolution Headlines does not deny having a bias, because everybody does.  What we do is provide a service – even to those who disagree.  As Darwin himself said, “A fair result can only be obtained by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”  That cannot happen with a press unified on one side of a given controversial issue.  Since the mainstream media are almost without exception Darwin toadies, you owe it to yourself, even if a staunch evolutionist, to hear both sides.  You will find facts here that are ignored by the press, and learn to assess the relevance of facts used in arguments.  You will learn to ask questions the pro-Darwin side never thinks about.  You will watch our Baloney Detector applied to Darwinist arguments, and learn to practice using your own B.D. on ours.  That’s fine; far be it from CEH to push easy-believism on either side.  Facts, history, and philosophy are far more interesting and detailed than simplistic presentations often portray.  Even if you remain an evolutionist, hopefully by reading CEH regularly, you will learn how to avoid winning our award for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.(Visited 49 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

African tusker now two species

first_imgThe savannah elephant roams the bush ofSouthern and East Africa.(Image: Luke Harwood) The forest elephant is found in thetropical regions of West Africa.(Image: Thomas Breuer, The Animal Files)MEDIA CONTACTS • Diane SkinnerIUCN African Elephant Specialist Group+254 20 890 506Janine ErasmusA debate that has raged for a decade could soon be put to bed, with the publication in the peer-reviewed biology journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) of a study confirming that Africa has two species of elephant, both occurring within the genus Loxodonta (Greek, meaning “oblique-sided tooth”).Previously the two types, known as savannah and forest elephants, were considered to be sub-species of Loxodonta africana. Researchers are now proposing that the savannah elephant be officially classified as L. africana and the forest elephant as L. cyclotis.An international team of scientists from both sides of the Atlantic analysed the nuclear DNA of modern elephants from Asia and Africa, comparing the samples with the ancient American mastodon (Mammut americanum) and woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). Both of these large mammals roamed the earth for thousands of years, disappearing for ever about 11 000 years ago.The open access PLos published the research article – titled Genomic DNA Sequences from Mastodon and Woolly Mammoth Reveal Deep Speciation of Forest and Savanna Elephants – in December 2010.Divergent speciesThe study revealed that the Asian elephant is the mammoth’s closest living relative, and began to separate genetically from its ancestor about 2.6- to 5.4-million years ago.The team found that the two African species of elephants began to diverge at around the same time, probably because of an increasingly warm and dry climate on the continent that drove some animals out of the forests and onto the grasslands.Because the mammoth and its relative are deemed to be genetically distinct, the research team is confident that the same ancient divergence between the two African types should lead to their classification as two species.“You can no more call African elephants the same species than you can Asian elephants and the mammoth,” said Harvard Medical School population geneticist David Reich, one of the study’s lead authors.It is now up to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) African Elephant Specialist Group, based in Nairobi, to decide if these conclusions are valid. If so, L. africana africana and L. africana cyclotis will lose their middle names.The IUCN currently views all African elephants as one species, which is classified as vulnerable on the IUSN Red List of endangered animals.Controversial studyThe study that started it all was published in Science journal in 2001. Titled Genetic Evidence for Two Species of Elephant in Africa, it analysed the DNA of 195 free-ranging elephants from different populations, and was the first to propose the theory of two species.Much of the argument was based on morphological differences such as overall size, tusk and ear size and shape, and number of toenails.Most likely because of its wide-open habitat, the savannah elephant stands about 1m higher at the shoulder than the forest elephant, and can weigh up to seven tons, twice as much as its smaller relative, which also has rounder ears. The savannah elephant normally has four toenails on the front foot and three on the hind foot, while the forest elephant normally has five toenails on the front foot and four on the hind.Also, the forest elephants, found in West Africa’s tropical areas, were seen to live in much smaller groups than the savannah variety, which live on the plains of Southern and East Africa.Taxonomists argued, however, that even such distinct physical characteristics don’t necessarily mean the tuskers are two different species.Other studies then cast doubt on these controversial findings by showing that a small number of savannah elephants shared their mitochondrial DNA with forest elephants, which suggested a common maternal ancestor about half a million years ago.Found in the cell’s power pack or mitochondrion, mitochondrial DNA is passed down from female to female. A study of an animal’s nuclear genome gives a broader and more accurate view of its genetic history.Introduction of ancient DNAThe latest study could be the one that convinces the sceptics. Key to the project was the introduction of the ancient mammoth and mastodon genetic material, which allowed researchers to pin-point the time at which the animals began to diverge genetically.“We had a major challenge to extract DNA sequences from the two mammoth and mastodon fossils,” said team member and evolutionary geneticist Nadin Rohland of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Genetics, “and line them up with DNA from modern elephants over hundreds of sections of the genome.”The study featured the first-ever sequencing of the mastodon’s nuclear genome.The researchers also found that the split between the two elephant species went back as far as that between humans and chimpanzees.In terms of conserving the elephants, since each type now has a smaller population than first thought and may face different pressures, more specific conservation measures are needed. The forest elephant, said the team, is under threat from deforestation and human settlement and should be prioritised.“This work has immediate consequences for the conservation of elephants,” said conservation geneticist Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis of the American Museum of Natural History.last_img read more

Goa Minister on visit to US must call on CM: Congress

first_imgPanaji: The Congress in Goa on Thursday mockingly advised Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, whose official tour to the US, along with four family members, has sparked a controversy, to at least call on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in hospital during his visit.“Since Mr. Ajgaonkar has gone on a junket to the US with family members along with some tourism ministry officials, he should at least call on our ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and enquire after his health, considering that no one in Goa has been formally informed about the state of health of our Chief Minister,” Congress spokesperson Urfan Mulla said at a press conference at the party headquarters on Thursday. Another Congress spokesperson Amarnath Panjikar said it was unfair that the minister travels to the US with family members, at a time when the state was reeling under a financial crisis, especially with the mining industry non-functional following directives from the Supreme Court since March.“The government should get reimbursement for the cost incurred on the travel and stay of the family members, once the minister returns,” Mr. Panjikar said. The State Tourism Ministry has said that the Minister is in the US to participate in tourism promotion road shows. Senior Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party(MGP) leader and Public Works Development minister Sudin Dhavalikar recently rushed to the rescue of his ministerial colleague and said that Mr. Ajgaonkar should pay for the cost incurred on the travel and stay of his relatives for the US trip. “There is nothing wrong with family travelling on such trips, as long as state funds are not used. The tourism department can recover the amount from the minister,” Mr. Dhavalikar responded to media reports recently.Mr. Ajgaonkar is one of the three MLAs of MGP, an alliance partner of BJP-led coalition in the State.last_img read more

Horford hits buzzer beater to lift Celtics over Blazers

first_imgAFP official booed out of forum Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) launches the game-winning shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Boston. APBOSTON — Al Horford captured the attention of Boston sports fans even on Super Bowl Sunday.Horford made a 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer and the Celtics finished off the Portland Trail Blazers 97-96 Sunday, giving New England fans a few hours to get home before the Patriots played for the NFL championship.ADVERTISEMENT Giannis Antetokounmpo powers Bucks in bounce back win over Celtics PLAY LIST 02:29Giannis Antetokounmpo powers Bucks in bounce back win over Celtics00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Several jerseys for Brady and fellow Patriots star Rob Gronkowski were in the crowd at TD Garden. An Eagles fan shown on the Jumbotron repeatedly got booed.Horford wound up with 22 points and 10 rebounds, helping Boston win its fourth in a row.“He (Stevens) had called a play for Jaylen (Brown) but they were ready for it so he kept yelling keep the ball, keep the ball,” Horford said. “It’s a shot I work on a lot and it felt good when it left my hands.”Horford hit a game-winning shot with 3.7 seconds left against Houston earlier this season and also hit a buzzer-beater for Atlanta to beat Washington during the 2013-14 seasonDamian Lillard shot just 6 for 19, but scored Portland’s final eight points, including a 3-point play with 7.2 seconds remaining to give the Blazers a 96-95 lead.ADVERTISEMENT TIP-INSTrail Blazers: Maurice Harkless hit a career-high five 3-pointers and finished with 19. Harkless had 20 points in Portland’s last 13 games. … Portland has dropped six of eight on the road.Celtics: Boston had more 3-pointers in the first half than two-pointers (8-5). This was the 10th time this season the Celtics have overcome a double-digit lead. Boston is 15-5 against the Western Conference.UP NEXTTrail Blazers: Visit the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.Celtics: Visit the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises North, South Korea share the ice in figure skatingcenter_img NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding C.J. McCollum led the Blazers with 22 points and Lillard added 21.“They executed well down the stretch, made some tough shots,” McCollum said. “Credit them for battling back and then down the stretch they seemed to match every basket.”Boston trailed 85-79 with 5:37 to go before going on an 11-0 run, sparked by consecutive 3-pointers from Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum and Horford.Tatum had 17 points and Brown scored 16 for the Celtics.“That shot epitomizes the work he puts in,” Brown said. “He embraces those opportunities and steps up to the challenge.”Terry Rozier had with 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting after recording a triple-double and a career-high 31 points in his previous two games starting in place of Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.TAKING OFFENSEPortland had scored over 100 points in its previous 17 games. Lillard missed 10 of his first 11 shots.DOCTOR’S OFFICEIrving missed his third straight game with a bruised quad. … Morris missed his second with a hip injury and Shane Larkin was out for the fourth straight. “Wanted to end the game so we could go watch the Super Bowl,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.Stevens spoke while wearing a Patriots hat. He was joined by Eagles fan and Celtics player Marcus Morris, who sported an Eagles jersey.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I called game when Al hit the turnaround, just so you know,” Morris said.Stevens smiled, adding: “Al feels a lot like Tom Brady today, right?” Read Next MOST READ LATEST STORIES View commentslast_img read more

John Rich Named As Celebrity Chair For Rally For Kids With Cancer

first_imgThe Rally for Kids with Cancer Scavenger Cup will be held in Nashville, TN October 24 and October 25, 2014 to raise funds for children’s cancer research and treatment at the city’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, announced BG Capital Group Chairman Bobby Genovese.Nationally recognized as a top-level teaching and research facility and a leading provider of pediatric health care services, the 271-bed hospital is dedicated to serving only children. No child is denied care on basis of limited ability to pay.“Our goal is to raise much-needed funds to continue work toward finding a cure,” said Genovese who is joined by co-chairs and hospital board members Rick Dreiling, Chairman and CEO of Dollar General Corporation, and Rose Grindstaff, President of the G & M Group. “When we come together and choose to fight children’s cancer, we are making a difference in the lives of children currently in the battle for life. As event co-chair, I feel that it is vital that we all work together to provide much needed resources and support to pediatric cancer initiatives.”Rally for Kids Scavenger Cup is an event which began in Canada seven years ago and has raised more than $14 million to support pediatric cancer research, treatment and care. Nashville Rally for Kids with Cancer is an event supporting the Rally Foundation, a national charity here in the US benefiting the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.The Rally Foundation began in 2008 in Atlanta by a lady named Dean Crowe in response to a local mother’s plea for research dollars to help her 12-year-old son who was fighting a brain tumor. “Raise money for childhood cancer research and fund the best research wherever it may be,” she asked. The Rally Foundation is a national charity in the USA which raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. It has raised approximately $5.25 million and funded more than 75 research projects around the country.American country music singer-songwriter John Rich has been named honorary celebrity chair to help raise awareness and support for this vital cause. “All children should be given the opportunity to lead full, happy lives,” said Rich of his commitment to lending his name to such a worthy cause. “Through this incredible event we can make a difference together and rally for kids with cancer!”The Rally for Kids with Cancer Scavenger Cup is a unique and exhilarating two-day event. Car enthusiasts and philanthropists who participate, as drivers must each raise a minimum of $25,000 to enter their car and draft a Celebrity Navigator. Fueled by a thrilling schedule of events and exclusive pit stops, Rally Drivers and Celebrity Navigators embark on a journey of a lifetime.The Rally event will begin with an exclusive cocktail party on October 24, 2014 at the Grand Ole Opry Studio A – 2804 Opryland Dr. in Nashville to provide Rally Drivers with the opportunity to meet and recruit their desired Celebrity Navigator. The following day begins with the “Start Your Engines” brunch before participants set out on their day-long adventure marked by an extraordinary schedule of pit stops at some of the city’s most renowned establishments and venues. The event culminates that evening with a star-studded gala dinner at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel at 2100 West End where Rally drivers, celebrities, sponsors and invited guests revel in their experiences while enjoying an incredible dinner, award-winning entertainment and live auction prizes during the Scavenger Cup awards ceremony.Find out more here.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more