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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Social changes that may impact the intelligent design community

American scholar Victor Davis Hanson points out that the university as a standard setter of any kind is coming under well-deserved scrutiny, along with its instruments, such as peer review and tenure.
The old notion that America's most successful citizens are turned out by prestigious four-year universities -- the more private and Ivy League, the better -- overseen by disinterested professors is also nearing an end. Private for-profit trade schools and online colleges are certifying millions in particular skills.

Meanwhile, the high jobless rate among recent college graduates, who are burdened by thousands of dollars in student loans, is starting to resemble the Freddie Mac- and Fannie Mae-spawned financial bubble of 2008, in which millions of indebted and unemployed borrowers could not pay back exorbitant federally insured home loans. The notion that parents are going to keep borrowing $200,000 to certify their children with high-prestige BA degrees that don't necessarily lead to good jobs seems about as wise as buying a sprawling house that one can't afford.

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A therapeutic college curricula and hyphenated "studies" courses have not made graduates better-read or more skilled in math and science. For many employers, the rigor of the new BA is scarcely equivalent to that of the old high school diploma. The global warming/climate change/climate chaos "crisis" has reminded Americans that careerist university Ph.Ds can be just as likely to fudge evidence and distort research as political lobbyists. The old blanket respect for academia and academics is eroding.")
Last year, at a science journalists' conference at Carleton University, a lobbyist dismissed Climategate to the gathering as just routine private correspondence.

That just showed the distance between his assumptions and mine. The climate group came off sounding like a stinkpot cabal who should all be reassigned separately to unrelated projects and kept away from manipulating news. If we can't get better interpreters than that, we may as well not hear climate news. (Whatever happens will happen anyway, but there would be one fewer toxic workplace in the meantime.)


Evolution: Study shows why rapid development not likely an advantage, study shows

Spotted salamander, Camazine
Recent studies of evolution, such as Lenski's, have focused on bacteria because they replicate quickly. These findings offer insight into at least one reason why quick development would not benefit most life forms, suggesting time constraints on how rapid evolution could be.

"Faster Early Development Might Have Its Costs, Study in Salamanders Suggests"(ScienceDaily, Jan. 25, 2011), researchers found recently:
Fast development is often perceived as an advantage, as it enables better harmony with one's environment and readiness to cope with the challenges that it poses. However, research conducted at the University of Haifa, Israel, and University of California, Santa Cruz, and published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, found that the acceleration of developmental rate incurs potentially lethal physiological costs for the developing individual. "Our findings are consistent with research findings on other animals and call for further research on rates of development in humans," said Asaf Sadeh who led the study.

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... accelerated development carries costs: larvae that developed more quickly suffered greater rates of mortality. Larvae that falsely perceived the pond environment as long-lasting, and thus started life with a slow developmental rate, but then realized their misperception and compensated with significant acceleration, suffered the greatest rates of mortality. The physiological mechanisms underlying these costs are unknown, but are thought to involve both cellular causes such as oxidative damage from increased metabolic rates, and tissue-level causes such as overexploitation of undifferentiated stem cells or disrupted balance between the differentiation and growth of different tissues in the body. These physiological costs may also lead to increased vulnerability to environmental stresses other than drying, such as heat, disease and parasites, and might result in death.
It almost sounds as though they should be talking about "pysychological" development, but how the salamander "knows" all this is a puzzle for another day.


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