Late last week, the Texas Board of Education failed to approve a leading high school biology textbook—whose authors include the Roman Catholic biologist Kenneth Miller of Brown University—because of its treatment of evolution. According to The New York Times, critiques from a textbook reviewer identified as a “Darwin Skeptic” were a principal cause.
Yet even as creationists keep trying to undermine modern science, modern science is beginning to explain creationism scientifically. And it looks like evolution—the scientifically uncontested explanation for the diversity and interrelatedness of life on Earth, emphatically including human life—will be a major part of the story. Our brains are a stunning product of evolution; and yet ironically, they may naturally pre-dispose us against its acceptance.
1871 satirical image depicting Charles Darwin as an ape. The Hornet/Wikimedia Commons
“I don’t think there’s any question that a variety of our mental dispositions are ones that discourage us from taking evolutionary theory as seriously as it should be taken,” explains Robert N. McCauley, director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory University and author of the book Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not.
So what can science tell us about our not-so-scientific minds? Here’s a list of cognitive traits, thinking styles, and psychological factors identified in recent research that seem to thwart evolution acceptance:
Mental Health Clinics and schools, it seems, have no more political clout with Chicago’s mayor than they do with the GOP.
“They knew who she was, she was at every sit-in,” said Ginsberg-Jaeckle. “But she was never contacted by them, they never met with her, not once.”
Three months later, Helen Morley would be dead. Her friends blamed the closing of the mental health center. Of course, there was no direct link between the clinic closing and the heart attack that felled Morley at age fifty-six. But her friends are sure that the trauma of losing her anchor—the clinic and the tight-knit com- munity there—is what pushed her ailing body to the limit. They said as much during a protest outside the city health department offices a week and a half after Morley’s death, with a coffin and large photos of her in tow.
“We don’t have an autopsy or a medical examiner’s report. You can’t show her death was related to the clinic closure,” said Ginsberg-Jaeckle. “But it would be hard for anyone to say that given her heart conditions and other conditions she suffered from, that the stress and cumulative impact of everything she was going through didn’t play a major role.”
If Emanuel did indeed think largely in terms of adversaries, Morley was not a worthy one for him. She was impoverished, unemployed; many saw her as “crazy,” as she herself sometimes said she was. Her unhappiness with the mayor and her death would cost him no political capital.
Google Inc on Thursday won dismissal of a long-running lawsuit by authors who accused the Internet search company of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.
U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan accepted Google’s argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books, and making “snippets” of text available online, constituted “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.
The decision, if it survives an expected appeal, would let Google continue expanding the library, which it said helps readers find books they might not otherwise locate.
It is also turning point for litigation that began in 2005, when authors and publishers sued. Google has estimated it could owe more than $3 billion if the Authors Guild, an advocacy group that demanded $750 for each scanned book, prevailed.
“This is a big win for Google, and it blesses other search results that Google displays, such as news or images,” said James Grimmelmann, a University of Maryland intellectual property law professor who has followed the case.
“It is also a good ruling for libraries and researchers, because the opinion recognizes the public benefit of making books available,” he added.
Chin wrote that the scanning makes it easier for students, teachers, researchers and the public to find books, while maintaining “respectful consideration” for authors’ rights.
He also said Google’s digitization was “transformative,” meaning it gave the books a new purpose or character, and could be expected to boost rather than reduce book sales.
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
Jurors in Chicago found author and infomercial host Kevin Trudeau guilty of criminal contempt Tuesday for making false claims about his book, The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About. In a series of infomercials, Trudeau claimed the book revealed a “miracle substance” discovered in the 1950s and kept secret by food companies and the government that allows people to eat anything, not exercise and not gain weight. In fact, the book prescribed daily exercise and a 500-calorie-a-day diet. Trudeau was charged with violating a 2004 court order prohibiting him from making false claims regarding his book. In an unexpected move, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman had Trudeau taken into custody immediately after determining that the author, who prosecutors think has millions of dollars stashed in overseas bank accounts, was a flight risk.
Declutterfest Weekend #1 was really effective. Got a bunch of stuff sorted, lots of useful stuff taken to be used by others, furniture rearranged to aid cleaning, and even a little cash into the “Chadu is SCREWED” fund. (Also, a special pile of “stuff to keep” and “stuff to keep to sell” that I need to sort this week.)
All in all, four three-foot stacks of books sorted, gifted, and collected into boxes. Will make it easier for folks to look through for stuff that they want, and the eventual estate sale I plan on pursuing for my library.
Also cuddles and flirtation with interesting/attractive people. (Yay!)
Really good weekend.
Since even in the best possible scenario for my future, earliest for moving is mid-January 2014, I think I’ll have Declutterfests biweekly henceforth.
The hookah, lava lamp, Cuisinart, and kitchen aid mixer are gone or claimed, but I still have Hulk hands, artwork, a bunch of comics and RPGs, and a metric fuckton of books.
But, now I have room to stage stuff. And room to clean.
I’m still in dire straits, still, but signs are good!
If you’re in the DC area, take a look right here in a couple weeks for Declutterfest #2!
We argue that the Tea Party is better understood as a reactionary conservative force. It prefers the sorts of dramatic changes that threaten the stability traditional conservatives usually seek to preserve. Reactionary conservatives fear losing their way of life amid social change. To preserve their group’s social prestige, they’re willing to undermine long-established norms and institutions. Furthermore, reactionary conservatives are more likely to subscribe to conspiracy theories as a means of explaining the perceived erosion of their dominance. Reactionary conservatives will, therefore, claim that their “enemies” are destroying their way of life. Compromise is commensurate with defeat, not political expediency.
The difference between traditional and reaction conservatism is evident in an analysis that Barreto and I did of 42 Tea-Party websites in 15 states, alongside content from the website of a traditional conservative publication, the National Review. We found that the vast majority of National Review content emphasized core postwar conservative beliefs: small government, an emphasis on values, and strong national defense. Only five percent of the National Review’s content focused upon conspiratorial themes. On the Tea-Party websites, only 30 percent of the content concentrated on postwar conservative beliefs. However, 33 percent of the content here was conspiratorial.
In our survey research, a list experiment also revealed how Tea Party conservatives think differently than other conservatives. We randomly divided survey respondents into two groups and asked them how many of a list of statements — but not which statements — they agreed with. The only thing that differed across the two groups was whether the list of statements included the proposition that “Obama is destroying the country.” The results showed a striking divergence: 71 percent of Tea-Party conservatives agreed with this statement but six percent of non-Tea Party conservatives did.
Tom Clancy, whose complex, adrenaline-fueled military novels spawned a new genre of thrillers and made him one of the world’s best-known and best-selling authors, died on Tuesday in Baltimore. He was 66.
Mr. Clancy, who grew up in Baltimore, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a brief illness, his lawyer, J.W. Thompson Webb, said on Wednesday. Neither Mr. Webb nor Mr. Clancy’s longtime publisher, Ivan Held, president of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, said he knew the precise cause of death.
Mr. Clancy’s debut book, “The Hunt for Red October,” was frequently cited as one of the greatest genre novels ever written. With its publication in 1984, he introduced a new kind of potboiler: an espionage thriller dense with technical details about weaponry, submarines and intelligence agencies.
It found an eager readership. More than 100 million copies of his novels are in print, and a remarkable 17 have reached No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List, including “Threat Vector,” which was released in December 2012. Prolific until his death, Mr. Clancy had been awaiting the publication of his next book, “Command Authority,” set for Dec. 3.
1. The intellectual excitement of the “What if?” scenario.
2. A deeper consideration of what it means to be human.
3. It challenges and stimulates our thoughts and reasoning. Allows
us to ponder different ideas from our own.
4. A place where rationality and creativity come together.
6. Are we not already living in a very science fiction life - a little more can’t hurt.
(The Root) — Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 47: Which French general under Napoleon had African ancestry, and was a forebear to two French literary greats?
At the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, a mixed-race child born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue in the Caribbean grows up to cast aside his white father’s noble heritage — and his family name — to join the French military. With strength and courage in battle, he is eventually promoted to its highest ranks. Over time, the future emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, comes to resent this outsized “black devil,” but it is the soldier’s son, a novelist, who will have the last word. By immortalizing his father in legend, the son not only makes the family name immortal; he becomes one of the most celebrated French writers in history.
Prepared to be amazed, as Joel A. Rogers might have put it. “The real Count of Monte Cristo,” Thomas Alexandre-Dumas, was “a black man who rose to be a four-star general — the highest rank for a man of color in an all-white army before Colin Powell,” Dumas’ biographer, Tom Reiss, told The Root last November. When asked to describe the experience of researching his book, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, which won the Pulitzer Prize this year, Reiss responded, “mind-blowing.” Rogers couldn’t have put it better.