Category Archives: Science

Nature 90, Nurture 10

Anyone with an ounce of common sense, two eyes, and a grasp of history understands instinctively that most genetic traits are inheritable. Height, body type, skin color, even eye color run in genetically related families, and those families, bound together in local, tribal, ethnic, and national communities, reflect that. There’s nothing inherently conspiratorial, “racist” or “supremacist” about any of this. And yet, for decades, ideologically driven scientists and cultural Marxist apologists have struggled with such a raw truth, and have endeavored to show that nurture, not nature, is the determining factor, especially when it comes to talents and intelligence. After all, what do human sperm and eggs have to do with the making of the New Soviet Man omelet?

Share

Should we bring extinct species back from the dead?

This week, scientists announced a breakthrough in the battle to bring the northern white rhino back from the brink of extinction.

The last male of the species died earlier this year, reducing the entire population to just two female animals beyond their calf-baring years. But now, cutting edge reproductive and stem cell technology has produced embryos from frozen northern-white sperm and the eggs of the closely related southern white rhino.

Share

Anomaly: Human mortality hits a plateau after 105 years of age

Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth/Lucas Cranach the Elder (Wikimedia Commons)

From Mark Barna at Discover:

A study published today in Science indicates that people are indeed living longer and that the maximum lifespan for humans has not yet been reached.

And what they found was that after the age of 105, human mortality seems to hit a plateau. That is, you aren’t any more likely to die at 110 than at 105. It’s a contradictory finding, because mortality ticks steadily upward as we get older at all previous ages. Hit that golden age, a temporal “island of stability” if you will, though, and your odds of surviving stay about the same.

A report in 2016 out of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine concluded that maximum human life span was 115 years. People have lived longer; a woman died in France in 1997 at the ripe old age of 122. But those are anomalies. More.

The study was published in Science. The authors argued against a limit to the human lifespan.

122 years? Intriguingly, this passage appears in Genesis 6, written millennia ago, just prior to the Flood story:

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,

2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal ; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

It’ll be interesting to see if that turns out to be a correct intuition, now that it can be tested.*

From Jason Daley at the Smithsonian:

So why would mortality rates level off at such an extreme age? Geneticist Siegfried Hekimi at McGill University in Montreal tells Carl Zimmer at The New York Times that cells in the body accrue damage, which is only partially repaired. (Hekimi was not affiliated with the study.) Over time, all that damage leads to aging of bodily systems and death. It’s possible that these extremely old people age more slowly, and their bodies are able to keep up with the repairs.

Jay Olshansky, a bio-demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, however, tells Dolgin that an endless plateau doesn’t make sense. Certain cells in the body like neurons, he says, do not replicate. Instead, they simply wither and die, placing a limit on how long humans can live.

*Perhaps we can usefully distinguish between a normal human lifespan of 70 to 80 years if all goes well and a maximum human lifespan of around 115-120 years. Because far more human beings than formerly are living out a normal lifespan, more people are available to become centenarians. But transhumanism, the idea that we can use technology to live for centuries, won’t get much support from current longevity data.

See also: Study suggesting human life span limit of 115-125 years draws fire

Share

Scientist predicts our future will be ‘worse than extinction’

Alexander Berezin, a highly-cited scientist from Russia’s National University of Electronic Technology Research, outlined his bleak prediction in an article entitled ‘First to enter, last to leave: a solution to Fermi’s paradox’.

Fermi’s paradox is the contradiction that’s been maddening scientists for years. The idea that if the universe is so vast, practically guaranteeing the existence of extraterrestrial life, then why hasn’t humanity ever detected a trace of it?

1. Distance
2. Relativity
3. Age of universe

Fermi’s paradox isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is incomplete.

Share

Are We Living In The Scientific Revolution 2.0 Or Dark Ages 2.0?

Today’s liberal science, too, has its “monarchs” whose rule and authority is granted by position, not proven ability, general consensus or scientific fact. It, too, controls the education systems and is absolute in its control of academic freedom and arbitrator of its boundaries.

Today’s liberal science, too, will broach no questioning of its absolute power and reacts with fear to any challenges to this position. Anyone who strays from establishment orthodoxy, especially those who were part of this liberal power structure, is in effect brought before the modern equivalent of the Inquisition and charged with heresy, tortured, and far too often figuratively executed.

Share

Scientists Bring A Severed Brain Back To Life, Sparking Ethical Debate

Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan revealed the breakthrough during a meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on March 28. Sestan’s team reportedly experimented on over 100 pig brains obtained from a slaughterhouse and restored their circulation using a system of pumps, heaters, and artificial blood. The researchers said they managed to reactivate the brains for up to 36 hours.

Share

Can science tell us who will become a mass shooter?

From Bruce Bower at Science News:

A dearth of research means the science of rampage shootings simply doesn’t exist…

Nor does any published evidence support claims that being a bully or a victim of bullying, or watching violent video games and movies, leads to mass public shootings, Winegard contends. Bullying affects a disturbingly high proportion of youngsters and has been linked to later anxiety and depression (SN: 5/30/15, p. 12) but not to later violence. In laboratory studies, youngsters who play violent computer games or watch violent videos generally don’t become more aggressive or violent in experimental situations. Investigators have found that some school shooters, including the Newtown perpetrator, preferred playing nonviolent video games, Winegard says.

Still, a small but tragic group of kids lead lives that somehow turn them into killers of classmates or random strangers (SN: 5/27/06, p. 328). If some precise mix of, say, early brain damage, social ineptitude, paranoia and fury over life’s unfair twists cooks up mass killers, scientists don’t know the toxic recipe. And it won’t be easy to come up with one given the small number of mass public shooters to study. More.

The main problem here is precisely as noted by Bower: “the small number of mass public shooters to study,” who live scattered over large regions. For example, suppose three out of sample of ten shooters are one of a set of identical twins, or left-handed, or adopted. A great deal of socially useless or harmful nonsense could be generated on those subjects because they are already subjects of research interest. But in the larger sample that we are thankful not to have, that bias would likely be engulfed.

A couple of other thoughts: Many parts of the world are more violent than, say, North America or Western Europe. Mass shooters are considered a huge public problem in Canada. But elsewhere, in the midst of a civil war or ethnic cleansing they might not even stand out. We don’t know because we have no generalized sample of the human race.

Also, in a disturbing number of cases, the shooter turns out to have been a known public danger but authorities did nothing and/or law enforcement was badly bungled.

Law enforcement personnel are much more numerous than mass shooters and typically have a more normal psychological profile. Why not then invest more research money in studying 1) remedies for the problem that nothing is done about a clear and present danger and 2) why so many interventions go so wrong? – O’Leary for News

See also: Was Anders Breivik not insane?

Share

Stephen Hawking’s ‘breathtaking’ final multiverse theory completed two weeks before he died

A final theory explaining how mankind might detect parallel universes was completed by Stephen Hawking shortly before he died, it has emerged.

Colleagues have revealed the renowned theoretical physicist’s final academic work was to set out the groundbreaking mathematics needed for a spacecraft to find traces of multiple big bangs.

Currently being reviewed by a leading scientific journal, the paper, named A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation, may turn out to be Hawking’s most important scientific legacy.

Share

Biology is real, if not popular: Lone scientist squares off with social justice warriors

Heather Heying

Remember Heather Heying, wife and co-belligerent of Bret Weinstein in the science vs. snowflakes wars? Guess what happened when she tried saying in public what everyone knows?

Daily Wire:

On February 17, Portland State University held an event to discuss viewpoint diversity moderated by PSU philosophy professor Peter Boghossian, with a panel including former Evergreen State biologist Heather E. Heying, writer Helen Pluckrose, and former Google engineer James DaMore, who was fired in 2017 after writing a memo about the biological differences between men and women. When Heying spoke of the simple biological differences between men and women, some leftist activists hilariously threw a fit, rising up in protest and sabotaging the sound system as they exited.

Heying answered, “James argues, accurately, that there are differences between men and women. This is a strange position to be in, to be arguing for something that is so universally and widely accepted within biology. What is not as widely accepted is that culture is also evolutionary; but I’m going to argue that both biology and culture are both evolutionary. Let’s look at differences between men and women that are explicitly anatomical and physiological; are men taller than women on average? Does anyone take offense at that fact? I would say you could be irritated by it; you could be irritated by the fact that women have to be the ones who gestate and lactate; you could be irritated by a lot of truths—”

At that point a young woman with green hair stood up and led the protesters out. [20 min:] More.

Because the green-haired protestor’s war, like that of all post-moderns, is with reality itself.

Wouldn’t it be nice if big science boffins recognized that the squall of toxic snowflakes reported here (future leaders?) are a much more serious threat to science than whatever Florida parents want. If not, others will need to dig out the snow shovel but the results will not be pretty.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for Heather Heying: The worst position to be in is hers: She is an xx but an actual scientist, not a pussyhat for science, a parasite demanding the resources of the body to feed itself while contributing little but demands and gripes. That wouldn’t be so bad except that the gripes are so often about the nature of reality. And science can do nothing but accurately reflect reality, not change it to suit them.

See also: Jordan Peterson — Do the Stitches Hold? Peterson became a public enemy to Correct, evidence-free Opinion for saying things roughly similar to what Heying did. I was surprised by the extent to which Peterson understands that the post-modern aversion to objectivity, which is killing the social sciences, is seeping into the harder sciences as well, offering the same promise: Social peace in exchange for intellectual suicide.

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

and

More scientists wanted in government – but only if they are Democrats (progressives). One result of politicizing science like this is that the doubts raised are not an instance of the public “fearing” science. They’re what happens naturally when we begin to realize that the advice we are getting comes from an interested party…

The toxc snowflake squall begins at 20 min:

Share

More scientists wanted in government – but only if they are Democrats (progressives)

Alex Berezow

Science journalists are actually fun— provided they are not just a flock of page boys for science boffins: This, for example, from Alex Berezow at ACSH:

314 Action’s stated mission is laudable. It includes, among other things, a desire to “elect more leaders… from STEM backgrounds” and to “strengthen communication among the STEM community, the public and our elected officials.” One would be left with the impression that the mission is bipartisan, which would be outstanding.

Unfortunately, it is not.

The leadership are all Democrats. All the candidates 314 Action has endorsed are Democrats. The site’s news page refers to Republicans as “anti-science denialists,” and one of the endorsed candidates refers to a GOP politician as “science’s public enemy number one” — a perfectly noble term, but one that should be reserved for somebody who deserves it, like anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield or public health menace Joseph Mercola.

Perplexed, I contacted 314 Action’s Executive Director, Joshua Morrow. I asked what criteria must be met in order for a candidate to receive an endorsement. In addition to having a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), he or she had to be running a serious campaign and actually trying to get elected. Mr. Morrow added that the candidate also had to be a Democrat. More.

Imagine. Someone raised the political skew as a question, not as an Answer.

However, we will answer with another question: Given this skew, why should Florida parents take seriously what scientists are concerned about with respect to their proposed education changes? In the context, doesn’t that just mean what the U.S. Democratic Party strategists are concerned about?

One result of politicizing science like this is that the doubts raised are not an instance of the public “fearing” science. They’re what happens naturally when we begin to realize that the advice we are getting comes from an interested party…

And, as noted earlier:

Their worrying about what is happening in Florida classrooms is offputting when they cannot endorse the practices at most science journals – about which they should have more control if they are worth listening to in the first place.

See also: Historic journal Nature is freaked out over American public school science classrooms – again. Idea: Why don’t we wait to see whether the new standards are more rigorous? For decades, the United States has spent more on education and got less for it than most Western nations. We can afford a bit of time to seeing whether a new broom sweeps cleaner.

and

If science journals can’t solve their own problems, why are they dictating to Florida parents? At NPR: “Another concern is that today scientists are judged primarily by which journal publishes their work. The greatest rewards tend to go to scientists who can get their papers into major journals such as Science, Nature and Cell. It matters less what the actual findings are.” Perhaps it is no surprise that with all this stuff crying out for reform, major science journals that are implicated would rather worry about science education in Florida, over which they have only elite opinion influence.

Share