Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Religious belief, mundane matters have different thought processes

As extensively shown by MRI, religious belief-thought is heavily emotionally laden, as well as more agency focused.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Strad by other means still sounds as sweet

A modern violin, specially treated with a fungus solution, beat a Stradivarius in a blind test.

This ought to drive down violin, and violin insurance, costs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Has ‘false memory syndrome’ been proven or not?

People like Elizabeth Loftus claim ‘repressed memories’ simply don’t exist.

Their existence is again being challenged in court.

But, Ms. Loftus isn’t totally credible on the subject.

She was knocked out of being an expert witness Scooter Libby’s trial over the Valerie Plame CIA leak.

Why? In part because Judge Reggie Walton ruled that jurors should be able to decide for themselves on the reliability of a particular person’s memory without Scooter using Loftus as an expert witness precisely to make himself look more fallible.

But, during a hearing before Walton’s ruling, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald gave Loftus a once, and twice over.

And? He “picked apart the psychologist's testimony until she acknowledged errors and misstatements in her findings.”

That included admitting that some of her own findings were unscientific. Specifically:
Fitzgerald got Loftus to acknowledge that the methodology she had used at times in her long academic career was not that scientific, that her conclusions about memory were conflicting, and that she had exaggerated a figure and a statement from her survey of D.C. jurors that favored the defense.

Now, I don’t view this as a sudden victory for touters of repressed memories. I do see it as a caveat that EVERY expert in the social sciences may be whistling in the dark at times.

We might have a way to test the idea further, and scientifically. The brain shows similar activity patterns even when details of an event can’t be recalled.

At the same time, showing how malleable memory is, a false video can affect real memory.

‘God is not dead; he never was alive in the first place’

And, with that quote, Richard Dawkins demolishes Karen Armstrong, and the title of her forthcoming book, “The Case for God.”

Armstrong dips back into the world of 2,000 years ago, a la Joseph Campbell, to talk about two ways of knowing, “mythos” and “logos.”

Well, myths aren’t another way of knowing truth. They may be another way of hiding from it, but that’s a different story.

As for today, and her claim that everybody but fundamentalists accepts evolution?

Yes, theistic evolutionists can weigh in all they want, but their theistic tinkerer is just an updated version of “the god of the gaps,” and, somewhere in their minds, if they’re reflective and honest, they know it.

That said, this review of the forthcoming “Creation” is likely typical in glossing over that bottom line, with the “no conflict between religion and evolution” statement.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conditional-love parenting has its fallouts

Showing Dr. Phil and others, who oppose Carl Rogers’ ideas, quite wrong, studies show that conditional-love parenting produces, in essence, conditional self-esteem in children.

New info on the whys of the Y chromosome

The way it divides during cell division is a major factor in a number of sex-related syndromes and conditions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The placebo effect strengthens

Some would-be new antidepressants can't get to market because they can't pass
clinical trials. They can't pass clinical trials because the placebo effect is
getting stronger.

No, it's not less effective drugs, and it's not just anti-Ds or anxiety drugs,
either. Non-psychotropics are having the same problem in a few instances, and
it's clear that, yes, the placebo effect is getting stronger.

And, that it varies in different parts of the U.S., and in different parts of
the world. And, that beyond just being given a pill, things like pill dosage
frequency and even COLOR of the pill are causative factors.

The full story is here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Online science has old science ethics

At least in medicine. The percentage of ghostwriting is as bad in Public Library of Science, held up as a model of open, collaborative online science publishing, as it is in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This ultimate farce - life

Inspired by a friend of mine mentioning "the ultimate farce" on an e-mail group, I got the poetic juices flowing, with those five syllables being the right length for a line of haiku. And, extended haiku is one of my favorite poetic styles, so here goes:

This ultimate farce
Indeed full of sound and fury
Signifies nothing.

A loud, vacuous
Sound and fury of breaking wind;
Cosmic flatulence.

Fart away yourselves;
Become attuned to this world —
Flaccid reality.

Others will not laugh
At your reverberation
Of the cosmic joke?

They have imprisoned
Their child selves in joylessness
And so they suffer.

If we cannot laugh
At the cosmic joke, we will
Cry ’til stone cold dead.

— September 9, 2009