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Cartoon: A marketing plan for the Enlightenment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 11:50pm in

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Book/Magazine on the Secret Warplanes of the Third Reich

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 11:15pm in

Luftwaffe Secret Project Profiles, text by Dan Sharp, illustrations Daniel Uhr (Horncastle, Mortons Media 2018).

This is one of those curious magazines, which are really soft-cover book. I found this leafing through the magazine racks of W.H. Smith last Friday, along with the modelling magazine on present day spacecraft. Morton’s have published a series of books on the strange aircraft the Nazis developed during the Second World War. Desperate to snatch away the Allies’ impending victory, they encouraged German aircraft designers and engineers to produce innovative aircraft. And some of these were very weird indeed. They included rocket planes like the ME 163 and Bachem Natter, as well as bizarre planes that incorporated rotor blades around the fusilage and propellers mounted both fore and aft. This book doesn’t cover the weirder designs, but many of those it does include are very unorthodox. The Nazis had developed jet technology, the most well-known examples are the ME 262 and the pulsejet engine that powered the infamous V1 Flying bomb. As this book shows, German engineers also developed other planes incorporating both rocket and jet power.

The blurb for the magazine reads

The constantly evolving nature of the air war from 1939 to 1945 meant existing aircraft types on all sides required constant upgrades and requirements for new types were regularly passed on to aircraft manufacturers.

The German government had already put huge resources into aviation research and development before the War – resulting in significant technological progress. So when the Luftwaffe asked for new aircraft, firms such as Messerschmitt, Focke-Wulf, Heinkel and Henschel were able to draw on cutting-edge aerodynamic research in formulating their designs to meet those requirements.

Competitions were held and the firms’ designs were measured against one another and against the German government’s strict standards – and the result was further evolution and development of even the most advanced aircraft proposals.

Luftwaffe: Secret Project Profiles focuses on the jet-propelled aircraft designs of the German aircraft manufacturers during the Second World War, beautifully illustrated by aviation artist Daniel Uhr.

More than 200 high-detailed full colour profiles cover the full range of German jet ‘secret projects’ from the war years, accompanied by details of why the designs were produced and how they fared against their competitors – based on the latest archival research.

Offering a host of different colour schemes and detailed notes, this is indispensable reading for enthusiasts and modellers alike. 

After the introduction, the book has chapters on

  1. Early jet designs of Messerschmitt
  2. Messerschmitt Me 262 versions
  3. Arado Ar 234 versions
  4. Rocket fighters
  5. Interim night fighters
  6. The 1000 x 1000 x 1000 bomber. This took its name from its intended ability to fly 1,000 km at 1,000 kph carrying 1,000 kilos of bombs.
  7. Pulsejets
  8. The 1-TL-Jager, intended to replace the ME 262
  9. The Volksjager, or ‘People’s Fighter’. This would be an airplane that even untrained pilots could fly into combat.
  10. Ramjet fighters
  11. The first jet bombers

The concluding chapter is on miscellaneous jets.

The designs produced included aircraft with swept or delta wings and a single dorsal fine in the tail, like the ME 163 rocket plane. Some were also tailless, such as the plane designed by Horten. It has recently been suggested that this is what Kenneth Arnold saw when he reported a group of ‘flying saucers’ over the Rockies in 1947. It has also been suggested that the Soviets were planning to stage a fake alien landing using an adapted version of the aircraft with children surgically altered by Mengele, which just seems to me to be distasteful bullsh*t. Some of the planes had twin tails, or replaced the standard tail fin with a V-shaped arrangement, or had two dorsal fins at the end of the lateral fins. There was also a flying wing design, and a ramjet plane which would have replaced the tail with a large dorsal fin containing the cockpit. Other unusual planes were two-stage aircraft. Some of these had a rocket engine as the first stage, one of which was very like the V-2 rockets that hit London. Another design consisted of a carrier aircraft, from which another plane was launched.

Many of these radical designs never made it off the drawing board. Others seem to have resulted in a few prototypes, but never went into mass production. The stranger planes look like spacecraft from Science Fiction, or else they were what Dastardly and Muttley from the Hanna Barbara cartoons would have designed if they were set in World War II rather than World War I.

Some of these new designs influenced the development of post-War aircraft. It is no accident that one delta-winged bomber appeared a little like the later RAF Vulcan. After the War the captured aircraft designs and information were taken back to Britain and America. German research on delta-wings, which resulted in the ME 163 rocket interceptor, were used in the development of the Vulcan, and probably Concorde, because delta wings were then able to withstand extremely high speeds better than conventional wings.

This is a fascinating piece of aviation history and will, I’m sure, appeal to people with a genuine interest in the real unconventional craft the Germans were producing. But admiration with wartime German technical innovation should never obscure the fact that the Nazi era was a monstrous dictatorship that had at its heart the organised slaughter of millions.

But also looking at these planes, I also wonder what secret designs we were also producing in the same period, which have yet to be publicised.

The poverty of intellectual correctness – Part One: Neo-Darwinism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/12/2019 - 6:11pm in

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I wrote this essay a few years ago as part one of a two-part article that would illustrate some parallels between intellectual authoritarianism in neo-Darwinism and in neoclassical economics. In some ways my response to Paul Krugman’s response to me was Part Two. But, wanting to quote this essay in another essay I’m working on – “Disciplines as institutions” I’m publishing it now in all it’s unfinishment. 

I. Denis Noble on what’s wrong with gene centred Neo-Darwinism

A few weeks ago I finished reading Denis Noble’s very intriguing and provocative Dance to the Tune of Life, a comprehensive take-down of Neo-Darwinism and excessive reductionism in science. Noble was one of Richard Dawkins’ PhD examiners and used to identify with the Neo-Darwinist mainstream – of which more in a moment. But, through his work in mathematical physiology gradually became aware of mounting problems with certain doctrinal foundations of Neo-Darwinism.

Often he shows us recent work that seems to debunk very important Neo-Darwinist doctrines at the same time as showing us that those heterodox ideas have been around for many many decades – sometimes over a century – but that they’ve been marginalised by the Neo-Darwinist consensus. And that consensus has been enforced by a Neo-Darwinist ‘political correctness’ police in which Richard Dawkins takes pride of place. My purpose in this essay is to delineate some intellectual roots of this political correctness and also to show strong parallels with the way ‘scientific rigour’ is policed in another discipline – economics – with similar disastrous results. 

Fittingly enough, cross-fertilisation between economics and biology has been common. Since economics first threatened to become little more than a branch of applied mathematics as the marginal revolution took hold, numerous economists of note have insisted that economics should be more like biology. In fact the cross fertilisation goes right back to the beginning of modern evolution. When Darwin read Malthus’s political economy, particularly his famous Essay on the Principle of Population it turned his mind toward every creature’s and every species’ struggle for survival.  The rest was history – well biology actually, but you get my meaning.

II. Reductionism: Here’s looking at Euclid

Noble’s immediate target is what he argues is the excessive reductionism of the gene centred view of the world, popularised by Richard Dawkins. Of course, judging what’s excessive by way of reductionism can only be properly done on the merits. After all, the extreme reductionism of the Newtonian Revolution was a huge success. As Adam Smith put it (yes that Adam Smith), Newton’s theory of gravity proposed “an immense chain of the most important and sublime truths, all closely connected together by one capital fact, of the reality of which we have daily experience”.

The point is that, at least in physics, although flaws eventually emerged as they always do in science, extreme reductionism was miraculously successful, generating vast new areas of practical knowledge. Many of the motivating ideas behind Neo-Darwinism 1 from which the gene-centred view of evolution grew were likewise a powerful engine of new knowledge. But they and the intellectual ‘temperament’ they embodied also came to marginalise important work and to foreclose its being assessed on its merits.

The gene centred view of evolution so brilliantly and trenchantly popularised by Richard Dawkins’ best-seller The Selfish Gene has a powerful logic to it. So powerful that it feels like some kind of key. If only we can root biology in the genome, then not only will we have got to the bottom of the whole thing – right down to the molecular level – but we can also replicate the Newtonian manoeuvre of building a whole science from crystalline axiom like formal propositions just as Euclid built his geometry all those centuries ago.2

As the great Neo-Darwinist Ernst Mayr is quoted in Noble’s book saying in 1982 “All of the directions, controls and constraints of the developmental machinery are laid down in the blueprint as instructions or potentialities.” And the fact that this is all encoded at the molecular level appeals to native reductionism in which the world is at least in principle, built like a pyramid with the tiniest things at the bottom and with larger things being uncomplicatedly built from them – like a wall is built of bricks, those bricks are built from clay particles which in their turn are built from molecules, then atoms with the atoms comprising sub-atomic particles and on it goes. As Francis Crick put it, “There are only molecules – everything else is sociology.”

III. The science and epistemology of non-reductionism

However there’s a problem with the extent of the reductionism in gene-centred Neo-Darwinism. It degenerates into incoherence. As Ernst Mayr put it in 1999:

An individual either survives or doesn’t … reproduces or doesn’t.… The idea that a few people have about the gene being the target of selection is completely impractical; a gene is never visible to natural selection, and in the genotype, it is always in the context with other genes, and the interaction with those other genes make a particular gene either more favorable or less favorable. In fact, Dobzhanksy, for instance, worked quite a bit on so-called lethal chromosomes which are highly successful in one combination, and lethal in another. Therefore people like Dawkins in England who still think the gene is the target of selection are evidently wrong.

Noble argues that, for all its success, Neo-Darwinism degenerated into hubris:

What went wrong was that the Modern Synthesis became hardened into dogmatism. Starting from the theory that this is the way in which evolution could have happened, it became transformed into the conviction that this was the only way in which evolution must have happened.

Noble proceeds to quote the transcript of a debate he chaired between Richard Dawkins and Lynn Margulis. At issue is the possibility of symbiogenesis in which certain organisms evolved not through the gradual accretion of random mutations a la Neo-Darwinism but by some process by which one organism acquires the characteristics of another – by physically absorbing it:

Dawkins: It [Neo-Darwinism] is highly plausible, it’s economical, it’s parsimonious, why on earth would you want to drag in symbiogenesis when it’s such an unparsimonious, uneconomical [theory]?

Margulis: Because it’s there.3

One of the exciting things about Noble’s endeavour is the way in which it operates both at the level of science and of epistemology or the philosophy of science. Though Noble dignifies it with a grand title – “the theory of biological relativity” – his basic epistemology or theory of how to encounter the natural world can be simply expressed. Order, and so causation, is emergent at many levels and causation runs both ‘upwards’ – for instance from genetic material to its expression in organisms – and downwards – from organisms to their genetic material – and that there is (therefore) no privileged level from which causation somehow originates. Other essential tenets of his view of biology I relegate to the following footnote.4

IV. Boys, girls, left, right, authoritarianism, permissiveness

It’s worth pausing to consider some deeper undercurrents of gender, temperament and ideology. In the extract just quoted, Dawkins, a man, is policing the discipline for ‘rigour’. Margulis is a woman, a scientific rebel and well to the left of Dawkins politically. It’s not coincidental – it’s part of the plot – that symbiogenisis entails biological cooperation between organisms, rather than competition which is central to the Neo-Darwinist vision of evolution. Something similar seems to have happened in considering the role of group selection in evolution (survival of the fittest groups) compared with survival of the fittest individuals. If the latter effect dominates competition remains the paradigm mechanism. Where the former effect intrudes, a dialectic opens up between competition (between groups) and cooperation (within them).

It’s not covered in Noble’s book, but group selection is another idea that tended to be marginalised by the gatekeepers of Neo-Darwinist orthodoxy, even though of course, as a matter of logic, there’s nothing in Neo-Darwinist logic that renders group selection marginal. The intellectual straighteners Dawkins and Pinker are still policing that boundary. They mount some quite good arguments. Perhaps they’re right. But permit me to be sceptical. (I’ve elsewhere briefly referenced how displinary gatekeepers of psychology resisted the use of the word “love” in Harry Harlow’s exploration of the mothering role with his terry towling monkey experiments. The word “proximity” sounded so much more scientific.)5

If you think this ideological reading of the debate is a bit far fetched, certainly Lynn Margulis bought into it – from the left – objecting to the dominant Neo-Darwinist paradigm is that it’s a “zoological, capitalistic, competitive, cost-benefit interpretation of Darwin”. She thinks it inherently implausible that the singular driving mechanism of evolution is random mutations. “I have seen no evidence whatsoever that these changes can occur through the accumulation of gradual mutations. … There’s no doubt, of course, that they exist, but the major source of evolutionary novelty is the acquisition of symbionts – the whole thing then edited by natural selection. It is never just the accumulation of mutations.” Sounds more plausible than strong Neo-Darwinism to me, but what would I know? And as for citing Lynn Margulis for support, she thinks the Sept 11 attack on the World Trade Centre was a “false flag operation”.

Here are some reasons why in some sense competition appeals to those I’ll suggest are of Neo-Darwinist ‘temperament’.

  • Given the undoubted role of competition and individual selection, as Dawkins initially argued against Margulis, the more you admit cooperation, the more messy – the less parsimonious – things get.
  • In a reductionist schema, the individual is also prior to and thus more fundamental than the group.
  • There are two additional psychological/sociological attractions of gene-centred Neo-Darwinism to someone attracted to policing intellectual rigour:
    • The Neo-Darwinist position is inherently paradoxical, especially to the intellectually uninitiated whether they’re a ‘creationist’ or just a sceptic about how random mutation subject to natural selection might enable the climbing of Mount Improbable to use Dawkins clever phrase. How can it be that the marvels of complexity, of coordination and cooperation within or even between species come from such a crude, competitive and cruel process? It marks one out as a sophisticated thinker and yet not so sophisticated that one’s case can’t be explained to an informed layperson in a couple of minutes on some TV panel show. Richard Dawkins is generous in that way, forever donating his time to explaining to people what fools they are; 6
    • Similarly, group selection opens up space for the wishful thinking of the Kumbaya crowd with all their blathering about living together in peace and harmony. The alternative suggestion – that the road to the miracles of nature is the cruelty of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ resembles the moralist’s injunction that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
  1. To summarise very simply, I’m taking Neo-Darwinism to be what Julian Huxley christened the Modern Synthesis in biology 1942. From Wikipedia “The modern synthesis was the early 20th-century synthesis reconciling Charles Darwin‘s and Gregor Mendel‘s ideas in a joint mathematical framework that established evolution as biology‘s central paradigm“. In what follows, I use the term Neo-Darwinism somewhat loosely as Noble often does to cover this core and a cluster of supporting doctrines sometimes, though not necessarily including a strongly gene-centred view of evolution.
  2. One of my favourite titles for a popular maths book was Here’s looking at Euclid, but I digress.
  3. Dawkins was subsequently gracious about Margulis. He subsequently described her as “one of the great achievements of twentieth-century evolutionary biology”, and regarding this episode (and no doubt others like it) commented “I greatly admire Lynn Margulis’s sheer courage and stamina in sticking by the endosymbiosis theory, and carrying it through from being an unorthodoxy to an orthodoxy.”
  4.  Post-Neo-Darwinism a la Noble

    Noble summarises his essential points thus (apologies that the list uses terms introduced in the book that may be new to you but I’ve tried to help with relevant links to Wikipedia and some square bracketed explanations). Noble proposes:

    1. that the Weismann Barrier is … relative … rather than absolute ….

    2. that genetic variation is not always random with respect to function. In some situations evolution may work as our body develops antibodies – even though this isn’t passed to the next generation – by ‘targeting’ random variation until a successful antibody is found.

    3. the existence of other forms of inheritance in addition to strict Mendelian inheritance.

    4. that the Central Dogma of molecular biology is better represented as an important chemical fact about coding, rather than an absolute statement about control by and primacy of the genome.

    5. the full significance of mobile genetic elements and the reorganisation of genomes.

    6. the inheritance of epigenetic and similar Lamarckian forms.

    7. the significance of symbiogenesis and many other forms of co-operation.

    8. the significance of niche construction and the active role of organisms in evolution.

    9. evolution is a multi-mechanism process, that the Neo-Darwinian mechanism is just one of them, and that we really do not yet know the relative contribution of each process to each stage of evolution. This would be a return to Darwin’s more nuanced view that other processes may also exist.

  5. See Love at Goon Park for a book length treatment of the issue.
  6. Krugman reflects on something similar regarding free-trade. “It is hard not to suspect that our professional commitment to free trade is a sociological phenomenon as well as an intellectual conviction. … By emphasizing the virtues of free trade, we also emphasize our intellectual superiority over the unenlightened who do not understand comparative advantage. In other words, the idea of free trade takes on special meaning precisely because it is someplace where the ideas of economists clash particularly strongly with popular perceptions”

Modeller’s Magazine on Building Kits of Real Spacecraft

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/12/2019 - 9:59pm in

Like many children in the ’70s I was into plastic model kits. I was particularly into air- and spacecraft, and so spent some of my free time and pocket money gluing together and painting kits of the Apollo Lunar Module and the mighty Saturn V rocket that took men to the Moon, the Space Shuttle, and a spaceship from the Science Fiction film and TV series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I was therefore pleased to find looking through W.H. Smith’s magazine shelves that not only had the hobby not died out, but that manufacturers were producing models of contemporary spacecraft. You can find plastic model kits on sale at some hobby shops and in Waterstone’s, but these tend to be of military aircraft, usually, but not exclusively from the Second World War II, tanks, and high performance modern jet fighters. Spacecraft seem to be dominated by Star Wars. So it was a real surprise when I found Scale Modelling: Real Space.

The kits built and described are those of the International Space Station; the Retriever Rocket, designed in the 1950s by Werner von Braun as part of the original concept for the Moon Landings which was then abandoned; the early Redstone rocket which launched some of the first Mercury capsules; the American Skylab space station; the Chinese ‘Celestial Palace’ space station, formed from their Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 spacecraft; the French Ariane 5 rocket; the Russian Buran orbiter, their answer to the American Space Shuttle, which has been built but never flown; the Titan IIIC launcher; NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lifting rocket.

Interspersed with these are articles on some of the real spacecraft themselves, written by NASA scientist David Baker. These are on the history of the ISS, how the final Saturn V launch for Skylab was very nearly a disaster, and the station became a success, and the Space Launch System rocket and its Orion capsule.

The very last model kit of a real spacecraft I built was of the Jupiter C way back in the 1990s. This was one of the early rockets that launched one of America’s first satellites into orbit. I’m very glad that people are still enjoying the hobby and building models of the real spacecraft which are carrying men and women into orbit. I was very pleased indeed when James May in one of his programmes on boy’s hobbies of the past, tried to revive interest in plastic model kits for a new generation of boys and girls a few years ago. As part of it, he built a full-scale replica of a Spitfire as a plastic model kit, complete with a dummy pilot, whose face was his own. It was cast by the artist Esther Freud, using the same techniques used to create creature masks for SF/Fantasy/Horror movies.

This issue of the magazine celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings with these kits. As NASA, ESA, India, and China again discuss plans for a return to Earth’s airless companion world, I hope the magazine and the kits encourage and inspire more children to become interested in space and the great vehicles that take us there. 

 

 

Danish Archaeologists Reconstruct Ancient Ancestor from Chewing Gum

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/12/2019 - 10:47pm in

Here’s another interesting bit of archaeology, courtesy of yesterday’s I. According to an article by Nina Massey, ‘Stone Age gum puts face to ancestor’, Danish archaeologist have been able to reconstruct the probable appearance of a woman from prehistory from the DNA she left in a piece of tree gum. The article runs

The entire genetic code of a 5.700 year-old human has been extracted from a piece of ancient “chewing gum”.

Danish scientists examined an ancient piece of chewed birch pitch and managed to obtain the entire ancient human genome from it.

Researchers from Copenhagen University said it is the first time the human genome has been obtained from anything other than bones.

Birch pitch, which has been used as a glue, is created by heating birch bark. Small lumps of this material have been found at archaeological sites and have often included tooth imprints, suggesting it was chewed.

The retrieved genome revealed it was chewed by a female and was genetically more closely related to hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe, than to those who lived in central Scandinavia at the time.

She also probably had dark skin, dark hair and blue eyes, the study, published in Nature Communications, said. Researchers found traces of hazelnut and duck DNA in the sample, indicating they may have made up part of her diet.

The chewed birch pitch was found during archaeological excavations at Syltholm in southern Denmark.

The article also carried a picture of what the woman may have looked like, and a photograph of the lump of pitch.

The dating puts the woman in the Neolithic. Her colouring is the same as that reconstructed for ‘Cheddar Man’ from 9,000 years ago. He also had dark skin and hair and blue eyes. This shows just how recently the modern European complexion – White or pale skin, and hair colour that ranges from black through brown, to straw and platinum blonde – evolved.

Philosophers Win NSF Grant to Study False Beliefs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/12/2019 - 1:44am in

Two philosophers have won a $431,892 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the formation and spread of false beliefs and their implications for the public understanding of science.


Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall [photo by Steve Zylius for UCI]

Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall of the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine will be using the three-year grant for research, course creation, and policy development. According to a press release from UC Irvine:

Using network modeling and analysis, they’ll study how tactics employed by journalists and influencers shape public understanding of science, how social dynamics converge with personal biases to shape beliefs, and how scientific consensus emerges—among scientists, and among the public and policy makers. Findings from their work will guide course development on combatting fake news and propaganda, aide regulatory bodies and industry giants like Facebook and Twitter in understanding how to protect public belief, and contribute to efforts to counteract illegitimate attempts to shape public belief.

The work “lies at an underexplored intersection between philosophy of science, mathematical social science, and public policy,” says Professor Weatherall.

More information here.

The post Philosophers Win NSF Grant to Study False Beliefs appeared first on Daily Nous.

Cartoon: The obstetrician Inquisition

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 11:50pm in

Lost in the impeachment shuffle of recent weeks are some eyebrow-raising stories of extremism at the state level. Voter purges in Wisconsin and Georgia should be headline news everywhere. Then there's the insane Ohio bill banning all abortion outright, and threatening doctors with charges of "abortion murder" if they do not somehow magically re-implant an ectopic pregnancy. (Rewire has a deeper dive into the "science fiction" behind this idea from earlier this year.)

Once upon a time, we could laugh this sort of thing off, assured that it would never pass muster in the courts. But the judiciary is now stacked with Trump appointees, many of them far-right activists like the anti-choice Sarah Pitlyk, who has beefs with surrogacy and in vitro fertilization (and who is considered “not qualified” by the American Bar Association).

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2019 Popper Prize Winner Announced

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 1:38am in

The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (BJPS) has selected Carlos Gray Santana (University of Utah) as the winner of its 2019 Karl Popper Prize for his “ground breaking” paper in the philosophy of geology.

The Popper Prize is awarded annually to the article judged to be the best published in that year’s volume of the Journal, as determined by the editors-in-chief and the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Committee.

Professor Santana won the prize for his article, “Waiting for the Anthropocene“. The BJPS editors-in-chief, Steven French (Leeds) and Wendy Parker (Durham), write:

Are we at the dawn of a new geological epoch? Many have answered ‘yes’, coining the term ‘Anthropocene’ to designate the impact of humanity on the geological record. In this ground breaking paper, Carlos Santana notes that answering that question requires a radical shift in perspective for a historical science such as geology: whereas previously the identification of formal units of geological time was based on the groupings already present in the stratographic record, establishing such a distinction in the case of the Anthropocene requires the geologist to project herself into the future and imagine what that record will be, looking back to the current time. Santana argues that from such a future geologist’s perspective, we should refrain from adopting the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch, because of the fragility of such a projective move and because even granting the impact of human activity, the geological changes involved aren’t sufficient to warrant defining a new epoch. Alternatively, it might be argued that the term should be adopted for reasons that take us beyond geological matters and into the political. But in this case, Santana suggests, it is doubtful that the desired consequences would ensue. In either case, he concludes, we should ‘hesitate to fully endorse the Anthropocene’.

In reaching this conclusion, Santana not only takes the reader through relevant scientific evidence—including that related to climate change, the fossil record, and the human fossil record—and presents a careful examination of the potential geological markers of the Anthropocene in general, but also considers the role of political considerations in the delineation of scientific kinds, touching upon issues of distinguishing the epistemic from the political and the ‘scientization’ of value judgments. His paper is both timely and provocative, suggesting that by not taking the Anthropocene to be set in stone, we may retain the motivation to fight the very markers of it, such as climate-related extinction.

It is the opinion of the Editors of the BJPS and the Committee of the BSPS that by integrating the relevant science, as well as value considerations, in this nuanced and sophisticated manner, ‘Waiting for the Anthropocene’ represents the best of what the journal has published this year.

You can read Professor Santana’s article here and learn more about his work here.

(via Beth Hannon)

The post 2019 Popper Prize Winner Announced appeared first on Daily Nous.

Does this B-Movie Plot Remind You of Our Prime Minister?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/12/2019 - 5:49am in

Okay, I know this is low and ad hominem, but I think we could do with a laugh after the election. I found this brief description of the plot of the 1927 film, The Wizard, in the Science Fiction Film Source Book, David Wingrove, ed., foreword by Brian W. Aldiss (Harlow: Longman 1985).

‘The misleading title aside, this is based on Gaston Leroux’s novel, Balaoo, and concerns itself with the obligatory mad scientist trying to graft human heads on to apes; to use the result to avenge himself on his enemies. Re-made in 1942 as Dr Renault’s Secret.’

A human head on an ape’s body sounds pretty much like the unfunny clown, who’s now been elected Prime Minister of the UK. But I fear describing himself as such is a slight to apes. They’re intelligent animals that are critically endangered and deserve to be left alone with their environment intact.

Boris Johnson and the other alleged humans in his party, on the other hand, deserve to be turfed out of government ASAP.

The March of Science - Electronic cigarettes and portable telephone.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/12/2019 - 12:17am in

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