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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Research stuff, resources, and fun that somebody threw over the transom

The vertebrate eye is NOT wired wrong or backwards, as commonly claimed. If you want your eyes to see as well as to look pretty, and you also want to be a mammal (why?), you need to to be wired that way. Go here and here.

Here's a transcript of a podcast of Beyond the Book on science writing.

Here's a primer on interpreting legacy mainstream media's materialist propaganda.

Here's Physics Nobelist Charles Townes on intelligent design, why he thinks three is something in it.

Can any reader help contribute to The Encyclopedia of Life? Whether you can or not, have fun with Jurustic Park.

How things change in science

A friend draws my attention to an authoritative 1986 paper on how things change in science, addressing the theories of scientific change of the 1960s and 1970s (Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Laudan, and others):
... they all agree, contrary to Popper, that scientific theories tend to persevere despite mere empirical problems, and that theories are underdetermined by data, and that metaphysical, theological, or other nonscientific factors play a role in theory assessment, and that theory evaluation is at least partly relative to the competition available, and that paradigms/research programs/... are never abandoned without a replacement on hand, and lots of other interesting stuff. In fact 17 items of agreement are listed, though there is some near-overlap.

My friend thinks that the agreement of theorists should be taken as a reliable claim about how science works (whether it works well or not). He is particularly concerned that lay people not go away with the idea that Karl Popper's "falsifiability" counts for much in practice. He notes that both Lakatos and Feyerabend say that any grand idea in science can be made to sound right if enough clever scientists work on it (p. 26).


Fun trailer on Indoctrinate U

Starting back to school? Wanna major in science? Go to Indoctrinate U and forget all the questions you wrestle with. As columnist David Limbaugh writes,
Tom Bethell, in his Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, quotes author Michael Crichton as saying that consensus science "is an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had."

"Wallet? What wallet? We don't know nothing about no wallet. And if you had a wallet, that was against The Rules."

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More on Bob Marks's Evolutionary Informatics Lab, besieged at Baylor

Go here for media coverage to date.

Marks wanted to run some numbers on whether the ol' Darwinian magic could really turn mud into mind within the life of the current universe. But it's pretty risky to try auditing Darwin's books at a social-climbing Baptist university.

The Scientist,current issue, features radical opinions on tenure

Should tenure disappear, instead of profs who question the system?

You know you are living in uncertain time when all the old truths and the old professors are, like, salad. Should tenure lose tenure, The Scientist asks. Plusa, Richard Gallagher on what tenure is good for. A while back, I wrote a piece on the problems with peer review as well.

While I am here, here's Robert Higgs at Lew Rockwell, on the general atmosphere:
Researchers who employ unorthodox methods or theoretical frameworks have great difficulty under modern conditions in getting their findings published in the "best" journals or, at times, in any scientific journal. Scientific innovators or creative eccentrics always strike the great mass of practitioners as nutcases – until their findings become impossible to deny, which often occurs only after one generation's professional ring-masters have died off. Science is an odd undertaking: everybody strives to make the next breakthrough, yet when someone does, he is often greeted as if he were carrying the Ebola virus. Too many people have too much invested in the reigning ideas; for those people an acknowledgment of their own idea's bankruptcy is tantamount to an admission that they have wasted their lives. Often, perhaps to avoid cognitive dissonance, they never admit that their ideas were wrong. Most important, as a rule, in science as elsewhere, to get along, you must go along.


ID-friendly TV pastor James Kennedy dead at 76

The most listened-to Presbyterian minister in America, according to sources, is dead at 76:
As previously reported, Dr. Kennedy, who was 76, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve 2006. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later and had been unable to return to the pulpit since. A tribute honoring Kennedy's extensive ministry was planned for Sunday, Sept. 23. There is no word as to whether or not that service will now serve as a memorial for Kennedy.

Kennedy often hosted ID figures on his show, The Coral Ridge Hour, including John West, review">Michael Behe, and Jonathan Wells..

Here's some information on Coral Ridge's controversial Darwin's Deadly Legacy.

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Denyse O'Leary talks about the just-released Spiritual Brain

Here's a podcast interview where I reveal key secrets of the evil conspiracies I am part of, whiled discussing The Spiritual Brain . I also Wedge "the Edge", and explain why I don't drink coffee while reading materialist interpretations of spirituality - because choking with laughter while drinking coffee is, like, a bitter experience. I take mine without sugar.

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