a tippling philosopher

Showing category "Science" (Show all posts)

Attention and completion as accurate predictors in 4 year-olds

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, August 6, 2012, In : Science 
Rather similar to the Gao et al and Walter Mischel research I refer to  in my Free Will? book, here is some new evidence showing that completion and attention at age four are accurate predictors of achievement some twenty years later:

Preschool Children Who Can Pay Attention More Likely to Finish College: Early Reading and Math Not Predictive of College Completion



ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2012) — Young children who are able to pay attention and persist with a task have a 50 percent great...

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Social Deprivation Has a Measurable Effect On Brain Growth

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, July 23, 2012, In : Science 

Social Deprivation Has a Measurable Effect On Brain Growth

ScienceDaily (July 23, 2012) — Severe psychological and physical neglect produces measurable changes in children's brains, finds a study led by Boston Children's Hospital. But the study also suggests that positive interventions can partially reverse these changes.


Researchers led by Margaret Sheridan, PhD, and Charles Nelson, PhD, of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children's Hospital, analyzed brain MRI scans from...

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Big Bang didn't need God to start universe, researchers say

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, In : Science 
[From msnbc.com]


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Our universe could have popped into existence 13.7 billion years ago without any divine help whatsoever, researchers say.

That may run counter to our instincts, which recoil at the thought of something coming from nothing. But we shouldn't necessarily trust our instincts, for they were honed to help us survive on the African savannah 150,000 years ago, not understand the inner workings of the universe.

Instead, scientists say, we should trust the la...

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Interesting extra-terrestial impact

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, In : Science 
New Evidence Supports Theory of Extraterrestrial Impact

ScienceDaily (June 11, 2012) An 18-member international team of researchers that includes James Kennett, professor of earth science at UC Santa Barbara, has discovered melt-glass material in a thin layer of sedimentary rock in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Syria. According to the researchers, the material -- which dates back nearly 13,000 years -- was formed at temperatures of 1,700 to 2,200 degrees Celsius (3,100 to 3,600 degr...

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Autism study strengthens idea that we read God's mind

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, In : Science 

Autism study strengthens idea that we read God's mind


People with autism appear less likely to believe in God – a discovery that has strengthened theories that religious belief relies on being able to imagine what God is thinking, a capacity known as "mentalising".


One of the hallmarks of autism is an impaired ability to infer and respond to what other people are thinking, so the investigators wondered whether this would affect their l...

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A Universe form Nothing - Krauss

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, In : Science 

I am presently reading Laurence Krauss' readable and short book "A Universe from Nothing". i like short books like this due to the fact that my reading list is incredibly long.  

I was reading a segment on antimatter and antiparticles, and I just loved this quote:

I like to say that while antimatter may seem strange, it is strange in the sense that Belgians are strange. They are not really strange; it is just that one rarely meets them.

Anywho, it seems a good book so far, some 50 odd pa...

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Behaviour controlled by genes

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 19, 2012, In : Science 

Can Behavior Be Controlled by Genes? The Case of Honeybee Work Assignments

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2012) — What worker bees do depends on how old they are. A worker a few days old will become a nurse bee that devotes herself to feeding larvae (brood), secreting beeswax to seal the cells that contain brood and attending to the queen.

After about a week, she will progress to other tasks, such as grooming nest mates, ventilating the nest and packing pollen. Only at the end of her life will she be...

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Dogs can't give birth to non-dogs. Oh dear.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, In : Science 
Here is a response I made to Steve, a christian posting on DC, to a popular myth about evolution spread by the likes of Kent Hovind.

OK, Steve has used the :

We all know that dogs give birth to dogs, not zebras, and ants lay eggs that hatch into ants, not Canada Geese.

approach, which is straight from the book of Hovind.

Firstly, let me remind you of a post I made here at DC about a year ago about there being no such thing as a species (objectively) - http://atipplingphilosopher.yolas...

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Being nice is genetically determined?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, In : Science 

Born Nice? Peoples' Niceness May Reside in Their Genes, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Apr. 10, 2012) — It turns out that the milk of human kindness is evoked by something besides mom's good example. Research by psychologists at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Irvine, has found that at least part of the reason some people are kind and generous is that their genes nudge them toward it.

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Super-Earths 'in the billions'

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, In : Science 

Science correspondent, BBC News, Manchester



There could be many billions of planets not much bigger than Earth circling faint stars in our galaxy, says an international team of astronomers.


The estimate for the number of "super-Earths" is based on detections already made and then extrapolated to include the Milky Way's population of so-called red dwarf stars.


The team works with the high-precision Harps instrument.


This is fitted to the 3.6m telescope at t...

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I get frustrated when people deny evolution.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, February 3, 2012, In : Science 
I was over on Debunking Christianity getting involved with a thread with a Christian who denies evolution. It pisses me off. Do people not read books? Do they not talk to experts in the field?

 From my book Unholy Questions:

It is worth looking at evolution in light of what is necessary for humanity, or any living organism, to exist. First of all, there must be a cycle to life. We must reproduce. Any life form that simply existed as a finite number would have to be impervious to danger, immorta...

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Balance isn't everything - misrepresenting science in the media

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, December 28, 2011, In : Science 
This is a fantastic article which I read a year or so ago and have subsequently dug up, written by Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times. It details how media organisations falsely promote balance when reporting science, and end up doing science a gross disservice.

Dear BBC: balance isn't everything

By Mark Henderson

At the end of September 2009, a 14-year-old girl collapsed and died at her school in Coventry. Natalie Morton, an autopsy showed, was killed by a large chest tumour that had n...

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Kepler 22-b: Earth-like planet confirmed

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, December 5, 2011, In : Science 

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in the "habitable zone" around a star not unlike our own.

The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C.

It is the closest confirmed planet yet to one like ours - an "Earth 2.0".

However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid.

During the conference at which the result was announced, the Kepler tea...

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Still one of the best songs about skepticism.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, In : Science 
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Anthropogenic Global Warming Denial - what goes on in the minds

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, November 24, 2011, In : Science 
I was recently posting on a right wing blog in the UK (James Delingpole's blog in the Telegraph). The blog was a response to the seemingly conclusive report by BEST. See it here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021144716.htm

Now, the deniers still try to squirm their way out of accepting AGW, so I thought I'd look at it from a philosophical / psychological point of view. Hopefully, this exchange (not in its entirety here) might be of interest:

Do you really think Prof Curry debu...

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Evolution - nuff said.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, In : Science 

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We're gonna live forever!

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, November 3, 2011, In : Science 

Erasing the Signs of Aging in Human Cells Is Now a Reality

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — Scientists have recently succeeded in rejuvenating cells from elderly donors (aged over 100). These old cells were reprogrammed in vitro to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and to rejuvenated and human embryonic stem cells (hESC): cells of all types can again be differentiated after this genuine "rejuvenation" therapy. The results represent significant progress for research into iPSC cells and a fur...

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Evolution, Natural Selection, True Beliefs, Stephen Law and Plantinga's EANN

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, October 20, 2011, In : Science 
In a YouTube conversation that I am having, I have been discussing Stephen Law's chat with Alvin Plantinga on Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyQ5cFIoKts

The poster stated this: "To return to the frog example. Why should natural selection care about the frog's beliefs? If you design a robot to catch flies, it can do so beautifully without having true beliefs - or false beliefs - or any beliefs. So why should natural selection bring beliefs into the equ...
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Richard Carrier's excellent argument against supernaturalism

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, In : Science 

The cause of lightning was once thought to be God's wrath, but turned out to be the unintelligent outcome of mindless natural forces. We once thought an intelligent being must have arranged and maintained the amazingly ordered motions of the solar system, but now we know it's all the inevitable outcome of mindless natural forces. Disease was once thought to be the mischief of supernatural demons, but now we know that tiny, unintelligent organisms are the cause, which reproduce and infect us a...

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Genetic link to intelligence confirmed

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, August 14, 2011, In : Science 
There is growing evidence for the link between genes and intelligence. This is hardly surprising but interesting, nonetheless.


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Species - is there such a thing?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, March 14, 2011, In : Science 

Recently, I have been thinking about evolution. Not unusual for me. Many apologists attack evolution, and attack the notion that species can evolve into new species, and that there is no transitional fossil evidence for X,Y and Z. However, what they do not realise is that there is no such thing as a species. Objectively, such an idea does not exist.

'Species' is a label that we humans have attached to groups of organisms that we see common characteristics between. We also tend to attach arbit...

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James Delingpole and Horizon's 'Science Under Attack'

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, February 6, 2011, In : Science 
James Delingpole is a Cilmate Sceptic who writes blogs for the Telegraph. He is politically and philosophically, and unashamedly, very right-wing. Unfortunately, this presupposition of the veracity of his political stance over and above his willingness to deal with real science, means that he has come to conclude (before properly assessing anything that remotely looks like evidence) that climate change is happening, certainly under the causal influences of man and man's activities.

Sir Paul Nu...
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