Category Archives: Science

Scientists accused of scaremongering, ‘overheated claims’ with warning to humanity

“It concerns me that the message from science is this doom-and-gloom scenario that just turns off about 75 per cent of people,” said Erle Ellis, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“There’s a small percentage that loves the crisis narrative, and they just repeat it over and over to each other.”​

Share

Surgeons Repair Form of Spina Bifida For the First Time

The Americans have been doing this for a while.

Oh – whatever the Americans do, Canada cannot, it seems:

For the first time in Canada, a team of surgeons has successfully performed in-utero surgery to repair a form of spina bifida, two Toronto hospitals say. …

On June 4, a joint team of doctors and nurses from Mount Sinai and SickKids performed the surgery, when Eiko was at 25 weeks gestation. Her mother was given a general anesthetic, and the team inserted a needle through her abdomen to temporarily anesthetize and paralyze the fetus. 

They then made incisions into the uterus to reach the fetus and close the skin over the spinal defect. The team also replaced amniotic fluid lost from the uterus during the procedure through a catheter — a critical step to keeping the fetus healthy. 

More than two months later, on Aug. 19., Eiko was born by caesarean section. 

Share

Q&A: The Ethics of Using Brain Implants to Upgrade Yourself

Neurotechnology is one of the hottest areas of engineering, and the technological achievements sound miraculous: Paralyzed people have controlled robotic limbs and computer cursors with their brains, while blind people are receiving eye implants that send signals to their brains’ visual centers. Researchers are figuring out how to make better implantable devices and scalp electrodes to record brain signals or to send electricity into the brain to change the way it functions.

While many of these systems are intended to help people with serious disabilities or illnesses, there’s growing interest in using neurotech to augment the abilities of everyday people.

Share

The Dark Side of Science

Science has bestowed enormous benefits on mankind. But it has a dark side as well. It gives us miracle medicines, but also, germ warfare. It bestows upon us nuclear power, and nuclear bombs. Its power can be used to benefit the environment or to destroy it.

But there is another aspect of science, one that has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with shaping our worldview. In doing so, it influences how we structure our society, our laws, and our moral codes.

Share

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issue ‘warning to humanity’

More than 15,000 scientists around the world have issued a global warning: there needs to be change in order to save Earth.

It comes 25 years after the first notice in 1992 when a mere 1,500 scientists issued a similar warning.

This new cautioning — which gained popularity on Twitter with #ScientistsWarningToEarth — garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

Share

Scientists look for a cure against politically undesirable behaviour

Since social engineers have come up with the idea of building new, multi-racial, multi-national, multi-religious, multi-cultural societies, they have encountered the natural barrier: xenophobia, which is another name for in-group loyalty and out-group avoidance. Xenophobia is a biological mechanism imprinted at the genetic level that carries a survival advantage. It tells an individual to create bonds with members of the same group and be on his guard against aliens.3)To put it in plain language: xenophobia is practised at the very basic personal level each time parents warn their offspring to be wary of strangers: not to open the door to them, not to trust them. So modern social engineers have a problem. They need to overcome this deeply rooted biological barrier.

h/t Marvin

Share

Houston Doctors Treat Baby With Spina Bifida Before He Is Born

The wonders of modern medicine:

Doctors in the U.S. have been pioneering an astonishing new treatment for spina bifida in which the baby is operated on before birth.

Spina bifida occurs when a baby’s spine and spinal cord do not develop properly, causing a gap in the spine. It affects 24 babies in 100,000. There are 14,000 people in Britain living with the condition, which leaves sufferers unable to walk, with fluid build-up in the brain, lack of bladder control and other complications.

Fetal surgery for spina bifida has been common since the 90’s, but trying to repair the spine while the baby is still inside its mother is fraught with difficulty and cutting into the womb risks premature birth.

Now Dr Michael Belford, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, has developed a new technique to remove the baby and womb so that any spinal defect can be fixed before amniotic fluid eats away further at the gap in the spinal nerve tissue.

Although the womb is still attached to the mother, once outside her body doctors can drain it, light it up and operate through tiny incisions.

One of the first operations was performed last month on hairdresser Lexi Royer, 28, who was initially offered an abortion, but chose instead to take part in the experimental surgery when her baby was 24 weeks old. …

To develop the procedure Belfort and colleague Whitehead spent two years practising on sheep and a rubber ball with a doll inside, wrapped in chicken skin to mimic the defect in spina bifida.

The team is now reporting on its work in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology following 28 successful operations in which no fetuses have died, and only a few have needed shunts to drain fluid from the brain. Some of the mothers have also not even needed caesarean sections. …

Royer’s baby is due in January.

Share

Are wealthy, white, male mavericks part of science’s problem?

From philosopher of science Adrian Currie at Aeon:

There’s a scarcity of jobs compared with the number of applicants, and very few high-ranking and ‘big impact’ journals. This means that the research decisions that scientists make, particularly early on, are high-risk wagers about what will be fruitful and lead to a decent career. The road to academic stardom (and, for that matter, academic mediocrity) is littered with brilliant, passionate people who simply made bad bets. In such an environment, researchers are bound to be conservative – with the stakes set so high, taking a punt on something outlandish, and that you know is likely to hurt your career, is not a winning move.

The resulting mediocrity shows.

The biologist Barbara McClintock devoted enormous effort and paid a very high price for her path-breaking research into so-called ‘jumping genes’ in the mid-20th century.

The response from the scientific community was initially hostile – not to the basic phenomenon McClintock had discovered, but to the complex, interwoven picture of biological systems that she developed on the back of the discovery. For 20 years, McClintock was forced to switch gears completely and work on the study of maize. It wasn’t until the 1970s that her peers came around, and she was duly awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983. ‘One must await the right time for conceptual change,’ she wrote in a shoulder-shrugging letter to a fellow geneticist in 1973.

Mediocrities’ most valuable bureaucratic skill, besides enforcing orthodoxy, is wasting other people’s time. We all grow old, we all die, they figure, so let time cart out the good ideas that never had a chance… while we retire in comfort, where all shall have prizes.

This part is an alarmingly bad direction:

There’s also a worry about the kind of mavericks we’re listening to. Most of those floating around today are wealthy, white and male. That’s not surprising: to be a successful maverick, chances are you’re already pretty privileged. Why? Well, you need a sense of entitlement and the confidence to take on the mainstream. More.

Ah! Class, ethnicity, and sex are a reason to avoid new ideas? A person who thinks that has abandoned science anyway for the endless solace of grievance identity politics. But then marchin’, marchin’ may be good for their personal health, if nothing else.

Science can be productive as science or else as identity politics. One must choose.

See also: Iconic Darwinian John Maynard Smith on teaching the controversy

Eureka! Scientist discovers that the post-modern left hates science the way it hates every form of external reality

and

Biology prof Bret Weinstein’s persecutors face sanctions from Evergreen State College

Share

Our age has come to worship science but despise its methods. Power obviates fact.

That conclusion follows from reading Austin Ruse’s Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data (2017).

For example, with respect to sexuality, does biology prevail? Or does it wax and wane in importance according to the social needs proclaimed by lobbies? Many gay rights activists claim that homosexuality is biologically determined. The claim is doubtful, in part because homosexual practices can often depend on culture, as in the case of prison culture or party boys, and are not a demonstration of fixed necessity or even preference. And female attractions to other women are not necessarily inconsistent with being married to a man and having children by him. These well-known facts are documented in a number of the studies Ruse cites.

One outcome of this gay gene/transgender brain war with evidence is that gay activists seek to ban therapy to change unwanted homosexual attractions. Would they also ban therapy to increase such attractions? For example, what about the bisexual who would genuinely prefer to just be gay?

Taking the exact opposite tack, transgender lobbyists claim that a person can belong to the other “gender” irrespective of obvious sexual biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy, due to a gender concept that exists only in that individual’s mind. Which is all the odder when we consider that most neuroscientists hold that the mind does not exist apart from the brain. But that fact is seldom raised as an objection to transgender claims.

Who is right? The answer, unfortunately, is that all of them are right. That is, the power of the sexuality lobbies to enforce their wishes becomes their right to do so, even if their claims contradict both evidence and each other.

[And they can’t and won’t stop there. That kind of power feeds on itself to grow.] More.

Share

Gene editing: Gateway to Promised Land, or key to Pandora’s box?

(RNS) — News that scientists for the first time successfully edited genes in human embryos created a stir this week.

In the experiment, outlined in a paper in the journal Nature published Wednesday (Aug. 2), scientists essentially snipped a mutant gene known to cause a heart condition that can lead to sudden death.

The work is controversial because it showed that scientists could manipulate life in its earliest stages and that those changes would then be inherited by future generations, if the embryo were allowed to grow into a baby. (The embryo in question was destroyed.)

It also raised the tantalizing promise that the baby would be disease-free and would not transmit the disease to his or her descendants.

Share