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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Intelligent design and popular culture: Plagiarism

A friend points me to this ad, noting "If an ID-proponent won one of these, that would be embarrassing."

"Does your school/university check your homeworks/theses for plagiarism? Nowadays, probably Yes, but are they doing it properly? Little is known about plagiarism detection accuracy, which is why we conduct a competition on plagiarism detection, sponsored by Yahoo! We have set up a corpus of artificial plagiarism which contains plagiarism with varying degrees of obfuscation, and translation plagiarism from Spanish or German source documents. A random plagiarist was employed who attempts to obfuscate his plagiarism with random sequences of text operations, e.g., shuffling, deleting, inserting, or replacing a word. Translated plagiarism is created using machine translation."
In my experience, the surest guide to plagiarism is the lack of any original ideas. The sense of "been there, done that, got the tee. So why are we back here now? Did we discover that we had left a passenger behind when I was asleep?"

A person who has original ideas - , good, bad, or merely confused or misinformed - disdains plagiarism on principle.

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Dinosaurs survived into the Paleocene (comparatively modern) era - about 65 million years ago and counting?

Well, EurekaAlert (28 April 2009) offers some suggestions in "Evidence of the 'Lost World' -- did dinosaurs survive the end Cretaceous extinctions?"
The Lost World, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's account of an isolated community of dinosaurs that survived the catastrophic extinction event 65 million years ago, has no less appeal now than it did when it was written a century ago. Various Hollywood versions have tried to recreate the lost world of dinosaurs, but today the fiction seems just a little closer to reality. New scientific evidence suggests that dinosaur bones from the Ojo Alamo Sandstone in the San Juan Basin, USA, date from after the extinction, and that dinosaurs may have survived in a remote area of what is now New Mexico and Colorado for up to half a million years. This controversial new research, published today in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica, is based on detailed chemical investigations of the dinosaur bones, and evidence for the age of the rocks in which they are found.

"The great difficulty with this hypothesis - that these are the remains of dinosaurs that survived - is ruling out the possibility that the bones date from before the extinction" says Jim Fassett, author of the research. "After being killed and deposited in sands and muds, it is possible for bones to be exhumed by rivers and then incorporated into younger rocks" he explains.
My caution is, we all want this. We wish the more interesting dinos were alive today. Gee, if we could show off a real T Rex at the Royal Ontario Museum, people would be lined up around the block 18 times. But, like the space aliens, ... they never write, they never phone ...


Goodbye, frog prince. It was your habit of eating flies in public that totally bugged me

No, but seriously, Robert Deyes asks at Access Research Network, "Are We Kissing The Frog Prince Goodbye?"
Review Of PBS NATURE Documentary Thin Green Line: For those who take issue with the rather blase application of evolution to every aspect of biology, Public Television's recent showing of Thin Green Line is bound to have raised hackles. Few nature documentaries that I have seen begin with quite the same density of evolutionary suppositions. We are told for example that amphibians were the first of our ancestors to venture out of the water and that they have since evolved 'into an explosion of species'. By the same token frogs are made out to be evolutionary gems that over the millennia adapted to live alongside dinosaurs, survive asteroid impacts and withstand the rigors of the ice age. Yet herein lies the irony. For despite all their supposed evolving and adapting, amphibians today have been unable to keep up with the more recent pace of environmental change.

Indeed evolutionary just-so stories aside, Thin Green Line provided important yet deeply troubling details about a tragedy that is unfolding beneath our very eyes- one that is unprecedented in its sheer scale. A third of all amphibian species across the globe are currently in decline and half of all amphibian species may eventually disappear altogether. Like many environmental tragedies, human activity is partly to blame. Spade-Foot toads in Cape Cod for example are being edged out by an increase in road construction while the Mountain Yellow-Legged frogs of America's Yosemite National Park have only recently recovered from a hard-fought battle against fish that were introduced by recreational fishers in the early 1900's (Ref 1).

As the demand for new housing continues to rise across the world, amphibians are facing survival challenges on every front.
The trouble with amphibians is that they are stupid. In response to every new challenge, they need help surviving, because they won't do it themselves. Do you doubt this? Compare them to rats, raccoons, and Canada geese.

The only solution, in my view, is to get communities to adopt species and create an interest in keeping them alive. You can be sure they won't do it themselves.

Other extinction stories.


Identical animals may be completely different species?

From ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2009) —

Animals that seem identical may belong to completely different species. This is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who have used DNA analyses to discover that one of our most common segmented worms is actually two types of worm.

The result is one of many suggesting that the variety of species on Earth could be considerably larger than we thought.

"We could be talking about a large number of species that have existed undiscovered because they resemble other known species," says Professor Christer Erséus.
It also helps explain why, after centuries of indoctrination, so few people put much trust in conventional evolution theories.


Intellectual freedom in Canada: In case you wondered what was happening, on Canada Day

From Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee:

Here is a bit of the roundup of news stories about free expression and the law in Canada. Ponder them on Canada Day.


A Toronto man who posted messages on the Internet supporting terrorist attacks in Canada and the deportation of Jews will not face criminal charges, police said.

Stewart Bell of the National Post :

In a lengthy article, Joseph Brean of the National Post explores the application of anti-hate-speech provisions in the Criminal Code:

[This incident beautifully demonstrates what is wrong with the "human rights" and "hate crimes" system. Were Canada a society under threat, some of this might be understandable, even expected, though we would critique specific decisions. But that's not the case. "Human rights" and "hate crimes" bodies act opportunistically, usually against Christians, "white" men, business owners, et cetera, and anyone else who has been portrayed as bad in pop culture media.

Because they do not operate according to the traditional rules of law.

Therefore others can get away with hatred and threats.

So the target is not protected! The only thing the agencies are now certainly protecting is themselves. Goodness knows, they have reason to believe their butts are vulnerable, but the solution is just to get rid of them. ]

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Intellectual freedom in Canada: Is the future of journalism ... a hobby?

My friend Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury sends me this interesting post by Seth Godin on what the Internet means to the future of publishing:
Magazines and newspapers were perfect businesses for a moment of time, but they wouldn't have worked in 1784, and they're not going to work very soon in the future either.

We're always going to need writers, but the business model of their platform is going to change.

People will pay for content if it is so unique they can't get it anywhere else, so fast they benefit from getting it before anyone else, or so related to their tribe that paying for it brings them closer to other people. We'll always be willing to pay for souvenirs of news, as well, things to go on a shelf or badges of honor to share.

People will not pay for by-the-book rewrites of news that belongs to all of us. People will not pay for yesterday's news, driven to our house, delivered a day late, static, without connection or comments or relevance. Why should we? A good book review on Amazon is more reliable and easier to find than a paid-for professional review that used to run in your local newspaper, isn't it?

Like all dying industries, the old perfect businesses will whine, criticize, demonize and most of all, lobby for relief. It won't work. The big reason is simple:

In a world of free, everyone can play
Interesting. There was a time when books were the preserve of scholars. Printing technology changed all that. It also created a professional class of people who sorted news for others. Indeed, social class was often reflected in which paper one's household subscribed to. See this snatch of dialogue from Rumpole of the Bailey:

It seems he's just remarried and his new wife takes in the Daily Beacon.

How odd?

What's odd?

A judge's wife reading the Beacon.

Hugh Fishwick married his cook, Ballard told him in solemn tones.

Really? I didn't know. Well, that explains it.
And journalists?
There may be more of them, not fewer, as the ability to participate in journalism extends beyond the credentialed halls of traditional media. But they may be paid far less, and for many it won’t be a full time job at all. Journalism as a profession will share the stage with journalism as an avocation. Meanwhile, others may use their skills to teach and organize amateurs to do a better job covering their own communities, becoming more editor/coach than writer. If so, leveraging the Free—paying people to get other people to write for non-monetary rewards—may not be the enemy of professional journalists. Instead, it may be their salvation.
So to journalists everywhere, I say, don't feel bad; it's not you. It's not mistakes you made. It's not bad guys.

Our industry grew up in an era when people needed pros to sort news. That was so you didn't have to wade through the senseless crime-of-the-day from the Beacon when you really needed the bond market news from the Financial Gazette. Today, people can sort their own news. If I never, ever want to hear from the Beacon, I can easily arrange matters so that I never do.

That is the fundamental reason that journalists are less necessary than before. And it will develop in that direction.

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Majority support intelligent design? Some thoughts

From Discovery Institute:

Doubts about Darwin Continue to Mount

Seattle – Just a few months before the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a newly released Zogby poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly rejects Darwinian theory in favor of intelligent design. When asked if life developed “through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,” a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

[The majority of the human race has always believed that. Given the predominance of materialst atheism at universities, if they haven't convinced a majority of the public, their cause is a failure.]

“In the Year of Darwin, these figures must represent a terrible disappointment to Darwinian advocates,” commented Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, which commissioned the poll. “Darwin’s greatest accomplishment was supposed to be the refutation of intelligent design, yet more than a century later the public has grown increasingly disenchanted with Darwin’s claims.”

[Maybe. In my view, far from considering it a terrible disappointment, the Darwinists - assuming they noticed - will do is run to the government for more, more, more funding to front their views, and ramp up the persecution of any who doubt. Maybe they can get Obama to make a statement.]

Dr. Meyer is the author of a new book from HarperOne, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. He suggested the polling data may reflect a growing awareness of recent scientific developments, documented in his book. As word seeps out from the scientific community, confidence in Darwinism has begun to perceptibly erode:

[Darwin's mechanism - natural selection acting on random mutation produces intricate machinery - was never demonstrated. Most "proofs" are paltry indeed, when you look at the evidence. Belief in Darwin's mechanism was enforced.]

“It’s only in the past decade that the information age has finally come to biology. We now know that biology at its root is digital code. Having advanced to this level of digital technology ourselves, in computer science, we can at last begin to appreciate what is going on inside the cell: the nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, the whole operating system in the genome. The cell is doing the same thing a computer’s operating system does, but with far, far greater efficiency.” More here.

[Think of it: You shed millions of cells every day, and every one of them is a more remarkable work of art than your computer. And biodegradeable too.]

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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