News Briefs 01-12-2005

Don't be surprised if you find something here that contradicts your beliefs. That's the idea.

  • Changes to ocean currents in the Atlantic may cool European weather within a few decades. Note: Even if the trend is confirmed by further data, it could be down to natural variability rather than human-induced global temperature change. Congratulations to the BBC on accurate reporting. CNN's a joke.
  • A scientist in Scotland has discovered tracks made by a huge water scorpion 330-million years ago, the first of the species ever discovered and the only evidence showing it could survive outside of the water.
  • Illinois yields a bounty of Mastodons and Mammoths.
  • Some of the earliest animals had human-like genes.
  • A Texas A&M University researcher places the age of rocks found in Mexico containing possible human footprints at over 1.3 million years. The generally accepted date for the arrival of humans in North America, across a northern land-bridge from Asia, is 11,000 years ago. This researcher may have a shortened career for truth-telling. Footprint claims challenged.
  • The discovery of canals in the Peruvian Andes shows early civilization there had irrigation technology for intensive agriculture.
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything is what its title implies: a brief and easy-to-digest history of a few of the most fundamental aspects of the universe, our planet and life as we know it. Might be a good Xmas gift or read. Available at Amazon US or UK.
  • What was the purpose of Stonehenge ?
  • The much-anticipated King Tutankhamun exhibit has provoked discussion about the historical portrayals of ancient Egyptians.
  • Creativity is linked to sexual success. No surprise here.
  • Researchers have discovered a fear gene.
  • Scientists embrace plan for cyberhugs. If you can't see where this is going you have no imagination.
  • Intelligent design is apparent for all to see.
  • A recently discovered secret flying-saucer base found in New Mexico has connections to the Church of Scientology.
  • Believing in medicine may help it work. Sounds like religion.
  • If you’re a loitering teenager, beware the Mosquito.
  • Surgeons in France have carried out the first face transplant.
  • 'Tears' from the Virgin Mary draw a crowd.
  • It's that global warming thing again.
  • A contaminated kiss kills a Canadian teenager.
  • A proposed history curriculum in Norway omits the world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and does not mention the topics of Nazism or Communism. That will simplify things.
  • Japanese researchers have found that, like human beings, monkeys have an accent depending on where they live.
  • Mankind has to tackle new biological threats.
  • Australia reconsiders a nuclear future.
  • Scientists have announced the discovery of the precise age of the moon, give or take 10 million years - it is 4,527 million years old.
  • Saturn's planet-size moon Titan has dramatic weather, with freezing temperatures, carbon- and nitrogen-rich clouds and possibly lightning.
  • One of Saturn's rings is actually a spiral.
  • Life would have been rough on ancient Mars.
  • Mars Express detects subsurface ice and minerals linked to liquid water. There's the fuel for the return trip.
  • Everything you knew about Mars is wrong — or nearly everything, say European and American space scientists studying compelling new data from the Mars-orbiting Mars Express spacecraft. Is it red?

Quote of the Day


If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.

J. A. Wheeler

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Rick MG's picture
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2 May 2004
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Unfortunately, I can't test this hypothesis as I'm the reclusive author type, locking myself away for months and years on end working on the next novel, with no social contact whatsoever. It's a sad, lonely life ...

denzo's picture
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1 May 2004
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5 years 43 weeks

Faux news is a joke. Wolf Blitzer is an honorable man. Cnn has it's problems, but over all it is current news. I wonder if the military press core feeds articles to Faux news? Shine forth brave souls! Dennis (from Oregon)

thefloppy2's picture
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22 February 2005
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you can be a creative extravert! Rather then intravert. Mixing with "pineapple heads" can give you inspiration you know.
My mixed up life is starting to look better all the time.. ;-{)

DISCLAIMER: the opinions and veiws in this post are mine only and are not those of others or of TDG. Any similarities are by chance only.

neanderthal's picture
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1 May 2004
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Nice that you said:

"Don't be surprised if you find something here that contradicts your beliefs. "

Well it can happen to anybody - but actually my belief is that November has only 30 days.

Or have I missed something? Are we living in limbo now - or maybe outside the box?

Bill's picture
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Creativity can be a burden, as well. ;0)

Bill

neanderthal's picture
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The item was: "Scientists have announced the discover of the precise age of the moon, give or take 10 million years - it is 4,527 million years old."

Happy Birthday moon!

I'm glad I never asked your age

Neanderthal
'Whatever you do, comes back to you'

Richard's picture
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Another 'ancient' artefact, according to the alledged find of a skull in Morocco.

Introduction in English, the rest of the descriptive text in French:

In July 2005, a small Primate skull was discovered in the desert of Tafilalet near Erfoud ( Morocco ). It was in the sand of a marble quarry where Devonian fossils were already found. Subsequently, the skull could be around 360 million years old.

SlippyC's picture
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11 October 2005
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I know it was included purposely and probably goes without saying, but the mechanical engineering student in the college newspaper, like so many other Intelligent Design supporters misunderstand, ignore, and oftentimes both the words of Darwin himself. Darwin himself responded, in The Origin of Species to these people "It is easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the 'plan of creation,' 'unity of design,' &c., and to think that we give an explanation when we only re-state a fact. Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject the theory (of evolution)."

I am aware of the mixed opinion on ID on this site (I have read for a while, and this is my first post), but this is an undeniably false analogy here. It makes me ashamed to be a college student with such "cutting edge" journalism as this exists.

That article was initially read as laughable by me, but then I imagined droves of readers scratching their chins in realization of what an "obviously" valid and clairvoyant observation was made by such a learnéd mechanical engineering student. It's so simple when you break it down like that!

Richard's picture
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Hi SlippyC,

About Darwin’s response:

It is easy to hide our ignorance under the cover of any set of beliefs, including that of any theory that remains to this date a theory.

Furthermore

Theories remain theories for the very reason that there are unexplained difficulties. Such unexplained facts should therefore bear as much, if not more weight than the ‘explanations about a certain number of facts’. What is most important is not what we know but what we don’t know. If not then what do we have to learn still?

For one, the interpretation of the observations, even if the observed data is indeed factual, retains a high level of probable faultiness in that it does not take the whole into consideration and is therefore a projection based on necessary assumptions. These interpretations then become the necessary assumptions for the next logical interpretative step.

The theory of evolution needs not be ‘rejected’ as such but rather needs to evolve. Unfortunately, since we are taught to believe that a theory can serve as a ‘fact’ until disproved, we remain as much in the dark than those we fustigate for not bowing to the current consensus.

Does this give more weight to opposing theories? No. What it does though is demand that such theories that are spearing against a status quo be used to further test the theory. If it does not help the ‘accepted’ theory to evolve and cover greater fields of understanding, it can at least help those theorists remember that they have not answered to much as of yet and, hopefully, bring their mind to open up beyond their impression of knowing something rather than just supposing something.

It was not for Darwin to decide if people should give more weight to what his interpretation of the facts was (the ‘Theory’) than to give more weight to what the theory could not explain.

The Intelligent Design proponents will be prone to the same trap. The trap of wanting to be right by one’s agenda rather than espousing a greater right by objectively using opposition to their conceptualization to creatively fine tune their proposal, until it can’t be attacked. Neither side is ready to do this and would rather fight for the podium of righteous indoctrination.

SlippyC's picture
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I hate to sound as one who just spouts off oft-told arguments that everyone (or at least I) have read many times over, but intelligent design is hardly a theory in the scientific sense. It has no testable evidence. This is similiar to the statement that proving the existance of an omnipresent being is by definition impossible. There is not a way to prove or observe an intelligent designer was involved.

I think we are essentially saying a lot of the same things, I meant not to imply that Darwin's theory should go un-expanded upon. Just as Einstein expanded upon Newton's theories, evolution certainly has room to expand. The reason I posted the quote was to show that Darwin anticpated that people would be "hung up" for lack of a better term on simply the difficulties with natural selection, such as it is very complex and can be interpreted as displaying design. Similiar to the Big Band theory, such a precise happening is improbable, though creationism is not an accepted alternate "theory". There may be more advanced mechanisms in play with evolution, but to simply end investigation with the conclusion "A deity/aliens must have to this" rather to explore the forces therein is against the very nature of scientific inquiry. Darwin anticipated this sentiment, be it towards the purer form of Creationism as it existed in the 19th century. I wasnt saying to not allow any alternative theories be posed as to the forces behind genetic diversity and evolution, but may they actually be posed as science.

Respect, Clifford

Richard's picture
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Agreed,

On the subject of science:
Even science as we consider it needs to be revised as it has become the predominant field of dogma.

Science, technically, is supposed to be seated over objectiveness. It is unfortunately not the case because scientists assign a personal psychological, read emotional, value to that they feel is the truth even though they would be forced to admit that they are dealing more with theories than they are dealing with laws.

Of course, the laws are there but their underlying reality remains unknown. In other words, we presume to fix the laws around our presumptions.

About ID:
It has been a major argument against ID that it was not valid because not scientific. There is no argument there in a sense so far as I am concerned. Does that invalidate ID? No. Does this give precedence to Darwin's theory? Not in my book.

I do not feel that because a theory is accepted as 'scientific' in the current conceptualization of science that it is anymore valid ultimately speaking.

Scientists must make an act of humility themselves and, so long as human psychology is the base for their musings, it will not happen soon.

Science in itself is a very hard field. I mean by this that it is another jungle out there.

About the possibility of conclusion:

There are no conclusions that can be granted either way. Assigning evolution to a deity or aliens is another conceptualization.

This said, it does not mean that aliens could not be responsible for certain experimental factors as witnessed on this planet. The fact remains that according to the precepts of human science, there is no universal scientific recognition that alien interaction or alien intervention may have happened in a near or further past.

So far as I am concerned, so long as we are caught within an empiric function of science and are not capable of expanding beyond its threshold, we will remain captive to our theorizing, which to me is a subset of philosophical argumentation. The ego needs proof or the impression of a proof to secure itself in the illusion of being right, therefore of being intelligent.

Whether it is under the guise of science or otherwise, we will continue to put forward theories that have for purpose, among other things, the maintenance of a feeling of security for the ego who needs a referent to position itself in relation to the world that surrounds it, having for effect an impression of being in control of its environment.

The main point for me is that when theorizing, we do not know but we may very well believe that we do.

One needs only read ancient scientific treatises, especially in the field of health to realize how totally erroneous projected conclusions were considered as fact even though today they would be considered totally laughable.

This being said, I definitely agree that at least, for the time being, science would benefit greatly, at least for the common good, from being sufficiently humble in spirit to allow its own evolution rather than taking itself even more seriously than religious zealots.

SlippyC's picture
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The argument on the idea of ID not being scientific is most often applied to why it should not be taught or presented in public school science classes. Its inability to be proven or disproven means, to me at least, that it is incapable of being valid in a scientific sense. In the lab that I work on, a lot of my superiors are quite spiritual and/or religious. This does not have them mention a deity or other being in the conclusions they draw from their findings. To them, it is exploring the beauty and complexity of the methods of what they believe created or otherwise played a role in the development of the universe. There's a seperation to them in what is more philisophical in the more spiritual sense and then the science. To them, their research is related to their beliefs, but they two are not infused in their publishings.

It is of human nature to try and understand and explain their surroundings. This is why people need to follow religious or devote their lives to science. I tend to find people dull who never think of their existance or attempt to find some meaning in it. Im sure that the same posters who seem to criticize scientists for being insecure have an explanation for their being that they feel just as proven. In science, there are of course similiar sources of uncertainty similiar to a faith based following. No science experiment ever goes perfectly; there are always sources of error and limitations to every experiment. I certainly have more sympathy for the character in the movie Pi after working in a lab. So those people that you describe as egotisitical and for need of control would likely iterate those needs in anything that they do. For someone like me, who has his insecurities but would not describe himself with those characteristics to a negative extreme, still appreciate the beauty in the uncertainty of those quantities I adore. While I long for a definite answer to explain and understand the world around me, the truth is that I will never find it. It's the search that's so damn fun. For a moment in this discussion I felt a little persecuted, I realize we are all still at this site, reading it every day. We're all looking for answers, just sometimes in different places.

To Floppy, the reason humans aren't "perfect" as you suggest is because we are becoming increasingly immune to natural selection (even ID proponents recognize the existance of evolution to some extent, I would reckon we'd all be comfortable with my saying that) as medecine advances. When was the last time you were attracted to a member of the opposite sex for their being healthy and fit for thriving in their environment? Humans can survive genetic ineffeciencies that no other species would be able to through medecine. If you loved a person, you likely wouldnt care if they had a terminal illness or other environmentally unfavorable condition. With a cockroach, that terminal illness would lead to a quick death, and a reprodcution would never/rarely take place. And I hardly think that cockroaches are perfect. They can reproduce very quickly and survive off of the most basic instincts rather than intelligence. Also, some see bodybuilders with huge muscles as such 'perfect' specimens. In any sort of 'wild' environment, the foraging for food while carrying that excess weight would harldy be favorable. I think humans are advancing and becoming more perfect. Physical sports records are being broken. Intelligent people often find themselves attracted to other intelligent people, which in theory would lead to more intelleigent people. I believe the story from about a week ago where it posed the question why humans havent developed a more effecient gait. If it's efficiency you're discussing in a cockroach's perfection, that's a different explanation and this post is already ridicuosly long.

Let it be known that I wasnt attempting to particuraly start any arguments in a troll-ish way by posting. Ive been reading for months and this was the first time I had felt compelled to actually comment.

Richard's picture
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Not at all Slippy,

No finger pointed at you either.

When I refer to the insecure ego, I am referring to generalization of the egoic function, not a function of anyone in particular.

Enjoyed reading your comments too.

It is less important to agree than it is to seek and really see what really lies behind what people have to offer us; even when in appearance it goes straight against our own idea or impression.

If we did that more often instead of just arguing, we might find that it is together that we are right; that 'our right' if constructed without the egoic need to be right by oneself against the same right of others, becomes a much greater and comprehensive right, a much more real intelligence.

Argumentation is not really interesting in itself, it only feeds the ego more self importance and reinforces his righteousness construct in contrast with creative opposition that allows testing articulated mentation and not necessarily within the constrains of a net of thought and accumulated ‘wisdom’, like that of science, although within that pool of memory there is much worthwhile usefulness.

Basically, there is no problem with science in itself. Like anything else, it is the distortion induced by the ego’s unconscious mechanisms that develop into problems.

That is where I see a fatal flaw in both ID and Darwinism proponents. Notice that I do not associate evolution to Darwin but rather associate Darwin to a single conception of evolution.

thefloppy2's picture
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22 February 2005
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I read Richards responces,and as usual they are well balanced as was your rejoinder.I have often dwelled on evolution and my problem with selection is the human race itself. If evolution was acuate, then we should have improved. But this seems to be the reverse. However, if an intelligent race manipulated our genes or DNA, this could explain some anomilies that we show. If we evolved over many millions of years, we should be as perfect as a cockroach. But our faults are many. You could explain this by saying we are still evolving. But we have had plenty of time to weed out the faults that keep popping up. Don't you think?

DISCLAIMER: the opinions and veiws in this post are mine only and are not those of others or of TDG. Any similarities are by chance only.

toxilogic's picture
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1 May 2004
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Hi,

I just like to throw in that i consider 'evolution' an inherent and highly significant part of ID

" do unto others as you would have them do unto you "

WhiteTiger's picture
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15 November 2005
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"Theory"... a much bandied-about term. It strikes me that one of the things overlooked is that the term is part of a specialist vocabulary, that it is defined both by, and as a part of, the scientific assumption set.

Isn't it convenient that one side of the multiplex worldview debate gets to own the definition of a key term? How advantageous for that particular camp. :)

Own the lexicon, own the debate. Those who get to define the terms get to dictate the valid concepts and have an inbuilt censure of anything not falling within the bounds of their exclusive conceptual paradigm.

Science is at base simple bean counting. Numbers... replication (number again), statistical analysis (anal rententive bean counting)... the list is longer than I have the patience to type out.

Not everything within the realm of human experience and existence is quantifiable. You can pump all the numbers in the world into the mind of a blind person and it will not grant them the experience of the color blue, though they may know every possible quantifiable value related to that color.

It amuses me that any and all reported aspects of human life are met with the demand for "scientific proof" (translated as bean counting numbers) when so very much of life is self evidently non-quantifiable. This kneejerk faith in quantity may be emotionally satisfying for those who have belief in it, but where was it written that only that particular faith is valid amongst all others, to the point that this faith gets to define the terms, scope and elements of the entire argument? Seems terribly religeous to me.

Just thought I'd toss those opinions into the pot and see what bubbles up ;)

Tiger

Greg's picture
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2 min 24 sec
WhiteTiger wrote:

It amuses me that any and all reported aspects of human life are met with the demand for "scientific proof" (translated as bean counting numbers) when so very much of life is self evidently non-quantifiable. This kneejerk faith in quantity may be emotionally satisfying for those who have belief in it, but where was it written that only that particular faith is valid amongst all others, to the point that this faith gets to define the terms, scope and elements of the entire argument? Seems terribly religeous to me.

Just thought I'd toss those opinions into the pot and see what bubbles up ;)

Tiger

Hi Tiger,

Exactly. Strangely, it's a concept a lot of people don't get until they are truly able to 'step outside the building'. Physicalism has become entrenched through a circular argument. The modern definition of reality as something physically measurable, means that anything that is not measurable is therefore unreal, a figment of your imagination...and so physicalism is entrenched, as it can't be challenged by something obviously unreal!

This despite the fact that invention and artistic creation occurs through subjective forms imagined firstly within the mind...so the physical becomes manifest through a subjective thoughtform. Kind of turns the circular argument into a moebius strip...
;)

Peace and Respect,
Greg

Richard's picture
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The need for proof is a reaction to the ego's need to feel secure and in control.

If you need to feel secure and in control, it can only be beacause you are not.

Like happiness. Why do so many people seek to be happy? This is like the snail biting its tail.

thefloppy2's picture
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22 February 2005
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so lets say stonehenge was built for this purpose. What i would like to know is why go to all that trouble just to know when these events take place. Or is there something about these events we don't know yet. Apart from planting seeds. Which, by the way, works very well.

DISCLAIMER: the opinions and veiws in this post are mine only and are not those of others or of TDG. Any similarities are by chance only.

WhiteTiger's picture
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15 November 2005
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8 years 27 weeks

It strikes me that any "explanation" of undocumented historical artifacts is highly questionable, particularly with something like stonehenge that dates back far enough that even a vague record of social mores and conditions is lacking. In such case about all that can be done is to apply our own contemporary filters to the info and imagine what we might do with the whatever-it-is.

There's a big tendency to read astronomical meanings into almost any mystery structure right now, and posit various reasons why that would be the main or overriding reason for the construction.

By analogy, virtually all modern ground vehicles have music systems and lighters in them... but those are not why the vehicles are built. There's nothing at all to suggest that the simple presence of astronomical alignment in things like stonehenge is at all related to their major function or purpose. It's just as likely that those would be secondary functions, added on to get the most bang out of the huge labor hours of erecting the things (imo, at least)

And of course, there's the old dependable device of historians faced with something inexplicable... slap the "religeous significance" tag on it and it ceases to be a major annoyance. Pyramids, statues (such as the sphinx), any building or artefact in a ruined city that doesn't have an obvious function... smear a little religeous significance on it and it greases it up so it will slide right into a comfy pigeonhole ;)

There's nothing wrong with playing the what-if game, but personally I'd like to see a little more admission of the "we are just guessing" element left in the eventual writeups... but that's just me ;)

Tiger

thefloppy2's picture
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22 February 2005
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I fume when I see a doco of Egypt and it's stated as fact things which are really guesses.With there perfect computer imagery which stamps in the mind of the "not so curious" people a pattern of truth. When it isn't truth but assumptions and guesses.
They should state that they don't really know for sure and are only guessing.

DISCLAIMER: the opinions and veiws in this post are mine only and are not those of others or of TDG. Any similarities are by chance only.