Dan Dredger


  • By Justin Gillis
    Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, […]

    • @OP – In reality, the Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling.

      But that’s real science which involves real measuring – measuring which is a bit more complicated than counting and comparing the numbers of people in two photographs of the same scene at different times!

      Much too difficult for the small-minded brains of those who prefer to use “alternative facts”!

    • I consider this as good news: “habitat for Homo sapiens will be gone. Shortly thereafter, all humans will die.”
      It’s the only cure for the planet – and beyond. With homo sapiens sapiens evolution has failed. Nice try though. 😉

    • But it is winter here in Philly.

      Anyone ever see Da’ Ali G show when Sacha Baron Cohen asks Buzz Aldrin if we will ever land on the sun and Buzz says It’s too hot…. When Cohen says “but what if we just went in winter,,,, I thought Aldrin was going to slug him…” Funny as hell.

    • The link is at:

    • My concern is it will be cooler this year as La Nina replaces El Nino and Trump will claim he has fixed it.

    • @crookedshoes #5

      I never found Cohen’s Ali G character all that funny, but I’ve got a new respect for Buzz Lightyear, sorry Aldrin, for playing it perfectly straight all through that interview.

    • @ crooked shoes
      ali gallows humour

    • @ robert firth
      thanks for that
      i think
      only made it half way through
      catastrophic brain fry
      joni mitchell nailed it too

    • since in the cretacious period, the ocean level was about 160′ higher than today, I doubt that 2016 is anywhere near a global record. but it certainly could be since the last glacial maximum barely 20,000 years ago, when the ocean level was over 200′ lower than today and glaciers covered much of Canada.
      also, that forest discovered under the retreating ice over 40 years ago on Ellesmere Island contains trees that need well over +10 deg F to have thrived as they obviously did… so, that makes me a little doubtful that this upcoming interglacial period will only have a 1/5th the amount of warming that apparently occurred during the previous interglacial period.

    • since in the cretacious period, the ocean level was about 160′ higher than today, I doubt that 2016 is anywhere near a global record.

      Yes but you have to remember most of the changes in global temperatures happened over very long periods of time so let’s say for example a gradual warming over a 500 year period gradually melting the ice etc. and then you do your calculations of sea level in that period of relative stability. That’s not the problem here the problem isn’t what are the oceans up to today, the problem is how quickly we are reaching levels that in time will have massive effects on thing like sea level. I’ve done a bit of oxy welding, if you are welding a very thick piece of steel it takes ages to melt but that piece of steel will be damn hot all the same. Or another analogy is putting a large block of ice out on a cool winters morning, it’ll take ages to melt, chuck is on the BBQ and it will still take quite a while to melt but the massive temp underneath will get it there are even increasing amounts. The rate of Antarctic ice melting has been nicely modeled and that modeling confirmed with satellite data measuring the difference in mass. It takes quite a while to melt that amount of ice. Mind you as devastating as that is it is only one of the many disasters we are causing ocean acidification being one of the scariest. We can move our buildings at great expense but the sea life that could die off as a result of ocean acidification will cause massive starvation among many nations.

  • By Dina Fine Maron

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—The day after businessman and reality-TV star Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th president of the United States, hundreds of thousands of protestors descended o […]

    • @OP – The day after businessman and reality-TV star Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th president of the United States, hundreds of thousands of protestors descended on the nation’s capital allied loosely under the banner of marching for human rights.
      More than 200 similar marches had also been planned in cities across the country.

      Unfortunately, many US voters do not realise the “REALITY TV” is an oxymoron!
      I suppose if it was honestly named “UNREALITY TV”, that could adversely affect viewing figures, but might have helped to avoid getting a hyped, superficial thinking, unreality president and cabinet!

    • wilke appeldorn #4
      Jan 25, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Pathetic, nobody will revoke a woman´s right to an abortion the only thing that might change is that she will have to pay for it herself.

      Actually there are counties where abortions are generally illegal, and Trump’s plan at home and abroad – as in some southern states, is to manipulate funding so as to close medical facilities which offer abortions, so as to make them unavailable regardless of who pays.

      I am absolutely no fan of Donald Trumps but I am greatly happy that Clinton lost and these feminist and SJW´s, who judge people solely on their gender skin color and sexual orientation have been dealt such a blow.

      Putting Trump and his climate change deniers, anti-vaxers, science deniers, anti-abortionists, mad militarists, Zionist nutters, healthcare profiteers, and purveyors of fake news, in charge of the US, is a helluva a price for the US and the world to pay for keeping Clinton out of office!

    • wilke appeldorn

      Your analysis of feminism is simplistic. Feminism is a wide historic movement with several waves and plenty of disagreement within the movement. The accomplishments of feminism have been nothing short of revolutionary. These accomplishments benefit women and also men.

      nobody will revoke a woman´s right to an abortion

      This is a dangerously naive opinion to hold. Over the past decade we have seen a constant effort to undermine women’s right to and access to abortion. If you are opposed to abortion then that’s your right and you are free to choose to not have one. However, you have no right to decide how other women control their own fertility.

      Try to understand the wide goals of feminism historically and stop judging us by the actions of a few women who say and do things that you disagree with.

      Don’t you have a mother, sister, daughters and nieces that you want to live in a safe world with opportunity and independence? How do you think we got as far as we did? Our rights weren’t handed to us on a silver platter. We had to demand them. Sometimes that’s not a pretty picture.

      No matter what this administration and their reactionary hoards try to take away from us they will not succeed. We’re NOT going back to the bad old days and I speak not only for women but for every minority that is hated by the scared bigots who voted for Trump. Are you one of them?

    • @OP – More than 200 similar marches had also been planned in cities across the country.

      Yep!
      There are going to be many more marches and protests, about a whole raft of issues in addition to science, and these are probably going to multiply as time goes on, as knee-jerk irrational decisions continue to emanate from the Whitehouse!
      First law of democracy – elect monkeys – live in the jungle!
      (Sorry about the insult monkeys!)

    • Who cares about men´s rights?

      May I know what rights? We live in patriarchal society if you didn’t noticed… the misogynist society. Women have right to their body. It is basic human right.

    • Lovely protests and I support them but isn’t it more efficient to make a referendum about this rights? The government (and any government in general) will not change itself. I mean an inhumane regime is not going to change itself. Why would a psychopath change himself or even notice that he is behaving psychopatic? I don’t understand why Americans are not starting referendum about this rights.

  • By Elizabeth Lopatto
    Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten notes from Verge Science readers wondering why news from the incoming Trump administration has seeped into our science coverage. I wasn’t surprised: it’ […]

    • Yes, science is political

      How come, then, there is only one Scientific method (broadly defined) recognised and used by all scientists around the world?

      How come we don’t see American science bickering with Chinese science and Russian science and German science as to which one is the “real” science?

      I get what the writer is trying to convey, but in my view the message (the title in particular) is a bit simplistic and potentially misleading.

    • @OP – But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics.

      Science is clearly the enemy of political liars and fabricators of false information.
      The last thing they want widely viewed in the public domain, is the competent debunking of their propagandist deceptions, by irrefutable empirical methods!

    • There is a party of fear and a party of hope. The party of fear is in charge- end of story. But I’ll continue anyway…

      Let’s wander back to Hollywood 1951. Two very different sci-fi were hits that year- The Thing From Another World and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Both depict aliens landing on Earth. In “The Thing,” the alien is plant-based and thus heartless, feeds on mammalian blood, multiplies by spreading seeds and is out to conquer our planet. In “The Day,” the alien brings an offer of peace.

      Both films feature scientists who want to save and work with their respective aliens. The scientist in “The Thing” is portrayed as the mad variety who openly valued the progress of science over human life while the scientist in “The Day” was out for the betterment of mankind. Fear versus hope.

      So in that era what was the most spectacular achievement of science? Nuclear bombs. The half-full side said it saved Allied lives by shortening the war while others wondered why anyone would research and invent something that made the destruction of the entire planet more than just a theoretical horror.

      You see the same split today. Some of us get edge-of-our-seats excited over what new particle might show its face at Cern; others think the mad scientists risk creating a black hole that will swallow us all.

      And there is some suggestion this dichotomy might be hereditary. Though the sample was too small and the correlation was only 80%, a study in the UK found conservatives had larger amygdalas- that part of the brain that recognizes and reacts to threats before we can reason our way to a decision- fight or flight (or as they say here in Southland, shoot or scoot). The Darwinian explanation might be that my liberal forebears on the Savanna survived by digging deeper into the scruff and eating better while the conservatives survived by not being eaten.

      But either way, it’s hope versus fear and right now fear is in charge- end of story (and this time I mean it).

    • We as a species have the intelligence to understand how things function. The central problem is the indoctrination every child gets in early childhood education. First by the parents, then by teachers at schools and by religious institutions..

      We cannot, in our present situation, completely achieve critical thinking because of the early indoctrination parents have already received and passed on to their children. But we as a society can affect children by teaching them some fundamental aspect of the world we live in. Without directly challenging the closely held beliefs of the parents, teachers could teach critical thinking more effectively if they were not themselves deeply indoctrinated or made bigoted with respect to science. Here are some of those concepts:

      Question authority is the most basic theme. Keep up a theme of “How do you know?” or “How can you find out?” or How often do you see this (or that)?”

      Question dualistic thinking. Yes there are some things that conveniently fall into a category of dualism in our observable world. Up vs down, night vs day, black vs white (colors not people), stopped vs moving, energy and matter, mind and body, hot vs cold, are some of these. But eventually even these can be challenged as “clearly” separate. To the end of eliminating dualism, the following can be taught:

      Gradients. Night and day gradient are evening and dawn. Black and white gradient is the relative darkness of grey. Fact and falsehood
      depends on the accuracy of evidence, The blending of colors such as
      water soluble dyes or paint pigments.

      Curve distributions. Tall vs short (in people) is questioned by the clearly observable variation the exists among people. Variation
      within a species should be emphasized in all classrooms and that
      would provide evidence for gradients and opposed against dualistic
      thinking. Height among people is an excellent observable example.

      Sample size. Too often some people accept something as a “fact” from a single observation or even a single statement by someone. In basic science, a sample size of 30 observations is required as sufficient evidence. However in medicine especially with respect to the safety and effectiveness of new pharmaceuticals, thousands of tests are needed before wide spread use is allowed.

      Absolute vs relative. Another basic concept is the erroneous belief in absolutes. I have too often heard in news commentary the statement “That is absolutely right”. No one has the absolute “truth” about anything. We must get rid of this truly destructive notion that something or another is “absolutely” correct.

      These are just some of the basic concepts that must be taught in elementary schools in order to teach critical thinking so badly lacking throughout the world. A gradual approach to critical thinking would best be accomplished slowly and deliberately, not precipitously. During my 41 years of teaching biology, i have often referred to some of these basic concepts, however I did not emphasize them as much as I could have as basic to good critical thinking.

      A disclaimer is that the list of concepts above are not necessarily absolute, complete, or final. Timing in todays world is critical as to when in childhood development these concepts could be taught. Perhaps they could be taught gradually rather than precipitously, depending on the situation.

    • Wow! There’s going to be a science march on Washington! Date to be announced. I really want to go to this one. Can we get some awesome speakers please?! hint hint.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/01/24/are-scientists-going-to-march-on-washington/?utm_term=.0aa9284f9a6f

    • Popper would not have used the terms “empiricism” or “prove” and it is to him that we owe the scientific method outlined above. Incidentally, the very best YouTube explanation of the scientific method is that by Lullie Tullet (I may have misspelt her name). Virtually all the others are 2,400 or 300 years out of date. This demonstrates that Popper’s method isn’t widely known and used by all scientists.

      Popper’s method is more than the scientific method, it is the general method for problem solving and equally applicable to solving political problems. P1, TS, EE, P2, repeat; problem (you start with a problem P1 and not an observation or an idea), you come up with your first tentative solution TS, you test it EE (error elimination) and through testing you come to a better understanding of the problem P1 and its solution. This is how we grow knowledge in every discipline, by trial and error.

      That said we must agree that Trump has been a fantastic problem solver in many fields to build his empire. And please remember that technology dwarfs science and feeds science with its problems for the most part.

      Trump does GREAT, its his key word, and he will be great for science and technology. One way he will do this is with education and his choice of Betsie as education secretary. Come on. If you can make the most watched speech in the world, the inauguration speech, and say you are going to make America great again and throw in that the US education system is flush with money but our children know nothing you are going to boost science and technology by leaps and bounds by giving the next generation a GREAT education. Teach them skills and concepts please and not stuff that they can get with a few clicks on their smart-phone Teach them mega knowledge rather than junk knowledge/stuff. Bottom line, teach them to be problem solvers rather than walking encyclopedias with heads full of stuff that they may forget.

    • David #6
      Jan 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      Trump does GREAT, its his key word, and he will be great for science and technology. One way he will do this is with education and his choice of Betsie as education secretary. Come on.

      All right! You’ve done the TV (un)reality show comedy!

      Now we need to get real and look at the disaster area Trump is propagating for science and education with his collection of pseudo science science denying muppets, with their “alternative facts”, climate change denial, and pseudo- economics!

      Come on. If you can make the most watched speech in the world, the inauguration speech, and say you are going to make America great again

      He is being watched because he is a dangerous idiot, messing with important global issues, on which he is utterly incompetent, not because he is going to make anything “great” apart from a series of disaster areas around whatever he touches!

      He is already trying to gag scientists because science refutes his reckless, clueless, superficial, half-baked ideas, before he even utters them!
      It is laughable to suggest that Trump’s claims could stand up to tests of scrutiny or Popper falsification!

    • Alan,

      GREAT to get a comment. Unfortunately I have lost my reply but I will try again tomorrow. I have hit a number of vegan YouTube sites with the one and only diet and none have made a comment. All I can conclude is that they don’t do the most important bit of problem solving EE.

    • We know that the earth is round. We know that we advance our understanding of facts and values by standing on the shoulders of giants and seeing further. We will get it right. The Islamic world, 1.6b folk, one fifth of humanity, has made no contribution to our understanding of facts and values in 900 years. Yet they were responsible for all of man’s advances in the previous 500 years, the Islamic Golden Age.

      Today we know the best way to run a country and the only economic technology that works. The best way to run a country is RULE BY THE BEST ARGUMENT and the best economic technology (its a technology stupid and not a science) is that that came from David Hume’s drinking partner, Adam Smith. Never-mind the soundbites. Trump does best practice in governance and economics and will make America great again.

    • David #9
      Jan 25, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      Today we know the best way to run a country and the only economic technology that works.

      . . . and almost all of this technology was created by the science Trump denies, and the scientists he is trying to silence!

      The best way to run a country is RULE BY THE BEST ARGUMENT and the best economic technology (its a technology stupid and not a science) is that that came from David Hume’s drinking partner, Adam Smith.

      You got it most of it right up to to thins point!

      Never-mind the soundbites.

      That’s why those using evidence and science regard Trump’s TV hype type sound-bites, as ridiculous! Trump and Co. have no scientific or evidenced basis and mostly produce “alternative pseudo-facts” or knee-jerk babblings, which contradict the consensus of expert opinion or even objective reports of events! They work on propagandist disinformation from vested interests, and their own ideological nonsense – not scientific, economic, or technical expertise!

      Trump does best practice in governance and economics and will make America great again.

      You would have to be joking!
      He is trying to turn the US into an isolationist, protectionist, backwater, running unregulated, obsolete, technology!

      He has a massive string people suing him him over debts from rogue business deals.
      Four of his casino companies went bankrupt owing many creditors!
      He paid $25million in an out of court settlement to students who paid for fake business courses at the so called “Trump University”, and he proved him self to be utterly incompetent in the energy business and in diplomacy, in an exchange of letters with the Scottish First Minister.

      He has appointed science deniers and Young Earth Creationists to important cabinet posts and is trying to gag expert federal departments!

      He is just a spoilt kid from a rich family, who made money as a rogue trader!
      He has no capability whatever in running public or government services, and proved this by appointing the most unsuitable people he could find to important cabinet posts. It is only a matter of time before they mess-up big-time and degenerate into squabbling among themselves.
      He has denied climate change and the benefits of renewable energy, and is busy expanding polluting obsolete industries, and stranded assets! Then there is his ridiculous wall, and claims that Mexico is going to pay $billions for it!

      The comedians are already having a field day, and Trump is fuming in infantile rages at criticism of fantasy assertions!

      He could well leave office by way of impeachment, for conflicts of interest, legal transgressions due to pig-headed ignorance, and utter incompetence!

    • David #6
      Jan 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      This demonstrates that Popper’s method isn’t widely known and used by all scientists.

      This is a statement of profound ignorance!
      Popper falsification is an absolute part of scientific methodology, taught in all university science courses.

      Popper’s method is more than the scientific method, it is the general method for problem solving and equally applicable to solving political problems.

      Nope! – Popper’s method IS included as part of the scientific method – which provides reliable information across many fields!

      And please remember that technology dwarfs science and feeds science with its problems for the most part.

      Technology originates in science, and scientific methodology provides the answers to technical questions. Technology certainly does not “dwarf science”
      Anyone who embarks on technical projects without the relevant knowledge of science, is doomed to failure, and probably some sort of disaster!

      Anyone working with technology who does not understand the related science, is just a machine minder or odd-job man, under the supervision of scientists and engineers. – Someone who plods through the handbooks they have provided, on basic servicing and use of the equipment.

      There ARE people who try to deal with technology, without the required scientific training and understanding – as accident reports show!

      (NASA lost Apollo 1 and two space shuttles as a result of the ignoring of science in warnings from engineers.)

    • Alan4discussion,

      Great comments. Popper gave us the demarcation criteria in 1934. Its a relatively small tool in the epistemological arsenal. He gave us the most important contribution to the biggest problem in philosophy, the epistemological problem, in 1982 with his universal problem solving methodology, P1, TS, EE, P2 repeat.

      I’m no knocking science when I say technology is bigger. Its bigger because science can give us a law of nature like Newton’s third law of motion but millions of engineers will use it. Popper gave scientific knowledge its deserved place as OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE and the title World 3. Descartes gave us dualism, World 1 and 2 and Popper gave us World 3.

      Going further I would call technology World 4.

      But I would go further and say World 1 was prior to the Big Bang, World 2 is the material world, World 3 is life, World 4 is mind, World 5 is objective knowledge and World 6 is technology. And if we can go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 then we can go to 7,8 and n. Gone is the second law of thermodynamics.

      And further again. Expanding Popper’s scientific method to the general theory to solve any problem. And recognising that there are only two problems in philosophy, epistemology and ethics, facts and values, neatly demarcated by Hume’s guillotine. We can go forward recognising that trial and error gives us the best science, technology and morals.

    • Alan4discussion,
      I am always impressed by your replies. When you make the statement below am I to assume you are speaking for RDF.

      “On this site we debunk such misleading poor quality information.”

      I would be very pleased if the scientific method, or as I refer to P1,TS, EE, P2 repeat, the universal problem solving method, was taught around the globe. But there is very little reference to Popper on Academy.ed.com which is generally full of current philosophers pursuing lots of silly tangents. I introduced Popper to my engineering lecturers and worked as an engineer for twenty five years as a sub-sea engineer and never met anyone familiar with the scientific method and they came from every university in the UK. I see universities granting degrees in psychoanalysis and Marxist professors, ideologies that some have described as being murdered by Popper’s demarcation criteria vintage 1934.

      I am always introducing Newton’s statement “standing on the shoulder’s of giants and seeing further” but never see any post Popper.

      Please visit Lullie Tullet’s YouTube for the best presentation on epistemology which I refer to as the king of enquiries telling every other discipline what they can and cannot do.

      Please may I submit a post for RDF on ethics.

    • @David

      That said we must agree that Trump has been a fantastic problem solver in many fields to build his empire. And please remember that technology dwarfs science and feeds science with its problems for the most part.

      I think you have this around backwards. Technology is often not made possible for some decades after the fundamental science was conducted. Lasers are a good example the fundamental science was done more than 50 years ago but Blue rays, checkouts, laser range finders and laser cutters came a long way after that. Technologies usually come some time after the basic science is done. Some of technological development can spurn research and provide a feedback but it usually starts with known science. I may want to build a hover car, I’m much more likely to have success if I think along the lines of known science (magnetism, aerodynamics etc) than if I say well it looks like we need to develop an anti-gravity device.

      Trump does GREAT, its his key word, and he will be great for science and technology. One way he will do this is with education and his choice of Betsie as education secretary. Come on. If you can make the most watched speech in the world, the inauguration speech, and say you are going to make America great again and throw in that the US education system is flush with money but our children know nothing you are going to boost science and technology by leaps and bounds by giving the next generation a GREAT education. Teach them skills and concepts please and not stuff that they can get with a few clicks on their smart-phone Teach them mega knowledge rather than junk knowledge/stuff. Bottom line, teach them to be problem solvers rather than walking encyclopedias with heads full of stuff that they may forget.

      Education always seems so obvious to anyone who hasn’t taught. Trouble is we forget how we learned things and assume all sorts of things about the education system that just are either not true or are far more complicated than you can imagine unless you have been confronted with 26 kids from different backgrounds 4 times a day and told to teach them X by this time.

      Yes we want problem solvers but you are not going to be able to solve many problems unless you understand a few fundamentals first. So a grasp of Mathematics and literacy are essential to being able to do anything. This is going to mean you cannot even look up facts let alone analyse the results on your iPhone if you can’t read. You cannot solve an engineering problem if you cannot add. So right there is years of gradually drilling known facts into kids. You are not going to understand say evolution or forces without learning about genetics and Newtonian physics first. So much of the basis of a good education will lie on the foundation of basic skills and knowledge. Problem solving can be taught at the same time of course but it would be absolutely pointless trying to teach just problem solving, doubt everything! Does 2 + 2 really equal 4? No we teach conventions, facts (which where possible such as in maths can be demonstrated with blocks or objects etc.) but much will rely on explicitly stating certain things.

      There are many problems with the education system in the USA (and here in Australia) the appalling pay given to teachers in the USA and the enormous power given to people who know nothing about education are high on the list. My brother in law (an American teacher) has a Masters in education (obtained at some expense) and he gets less than $40 000 a year! You want people to do a job like teaching don’t be such tight-arses. And let them do their bloody jobs stop telling them they have to teach nonsense. The actual reasons for poor education outcomes are many and varied and if you find yourself thinking it’s just a fundamental issue like the system is just trying to fill kids heads with fact then please first familiarise yourself with the curriculum. Then ask a teacher.

    • I hope that one of the four year results of the Trump presidency is that a whole bunch of sciency people and scientists look to run for office. I have been openly critical of “protests” and everyone here is probably sick of my point of view on that. But, a plan that has teeth and actually could induce positive change is that we need better politicians. I hope people are motivated to both run and to support those who run. If you are like me, you do not want the scrutiny, the skeletons (I have way too many!!!) and the general idea of representing people is kind of foreign. But, I hope that there is a subset of people who want to affect change and that they stand up when it comes to their door. MORE SCIENTISTS!!!

    • Trump does GREAT… he will be great for science…

      Trump understands Science so well that he initially offered the post of Education Secretary to Jerry Falwell, a preacher who runs a “university” that teaches pseudoscientific nonsense…

    • Cantaz #21
      Jan 30, 2017 at 9:14 am

      Trump understands Science so well that he initially offered the post of Education Secretary to Jerry Falwell, a preacher who runs a “university” that teaches pseudoscientific nonsense…

      . . . and Trump +, also understand administration and diplomacy so well, that they don’t bother consulting the federal experts, and are committed to radically reducing federal budgets and staff numbers!

      Who needs professionals to advise the president and his yes-men? ? ? ? 🙂

      After all, commenting on his executive order about restrictions applying to seven countries – the lord high Trump said his government was “totally prepared.” – “It’s working out very nicely,”!

    • Everybody approaches the world with belief system bias, but those who are most deceived won’t even recognize their own dependence on belief systems. The more one pretends his belief system is equivalent to fact, the less likely he’ll ever question what he believes and the more likely he’ll push his beliefs on others as if they were fact. He doesn’t ask others to believe like he does, no, he screams, “there is no debate, no belief, only science”. I got news for you, Science as we know it, will never produce moral codes, it’ll never say what is right and what is wrong, it’ll never give you the values or worth of humans or objects. Whenever you see these things, it is all belief systems. Science will never tell you it’s wrong to use a nuclear bomb on a city. It’ll never tell you when the baby becomes a baby or at what gestational point the abortionist is committing murder. It’ll never tell you that a cripple is more or less valuable than a non cripple. It’ll never tell you that a girl is more valuable than a boy or visa versa. It’ll never tell you what will make you happy. That is all belief systems and they are peddled wherever you go, but the evil is in the belief systems that pretend they are not belief systems. Their alluring lies are able to deceive millions and make other true believers that never question their faith because they actually believe they have none. So the next time you hear somebody preaching that a baby isn’t a baby until first breath, and that promiscuity, homosexuality, prostitution, and transgendering are all moral because science told him it was, please recognize he’s delusional and has yet to realized his own dependence on belief systems.

    • @ #24

      Whenever you see these things, it is all belief systems…

      Nobody falls for that kind of false equivalence here.

      To suggest that any way of understanding the world is equally valid and effective as any other is naïve at best.

      If one truly thought of Science as just like any other “belief system”, one should be consistent with that thought and be ready to deny oneself all the advantages and progress that science has made possible (modern technology and medicine included) over the few hundred years of its history.

    • All we have is confidence in ideas. confidence is set up through use of the scientific method, observation, logic, verification, reliability, and reproducibility. I will not speak for anyone here (nor everyone here) but, there are ideas that i have a high confidence in and ideas that i have a low confidence in. All of my confidences rest between 1% probability and 99% probability.

      sometimes I am guilty of being lazy with language and it may seem like I am declaring something a 0% or a 100% probability, but, it is only that, lazy language. I am never 0% nor 100%.

      You, Jeriah, seem 100% convinced that you’ve figured shit out. And, you haven’t. You are declaring McDonald’s the best restaurant without ever having experienced a restaurant that serves food outside the fast food paradigm.

      You are so so far in over your head that I am going to call you Trumpie.

      Now, Trumpie, I have a very very high confidence that oranges exist. I have a much lower confidence in the existence of unicorns. you know how i can say that? That’s right. Use of all of the skills I listed above.

      Trumpie,, simply saying something or having words in your vocabulary to express an idea does not commit any of the rest of us to agreeing, taking you seriously, or spending an ounce of time or effort entertaining your madness. However, you will find many folks here (I am NOT one of them) who will patiently spell stuff out for you. You are, again under no obligation to listen, entertain etc… their posts.

      let’s see just how our methodology compares/contrasts to yours. I have confidence in the idea that exercising raises your heart rate and can lead to weight loss. you may agree or disagree…. then offer me something that you assert and I will do the same.

    • Jeriah Knox

      Hi I see you are using the is-ought distinction. I thought Sam Harris handily dealt with this in “The Moral Landscape”. Worth a look even if you don’t agree in the end. Basically, provided you accept that the foundation of any morality that matters to anyone is to do with the suffering of creatures capable of suffering then science can indeed tell you a great deal about what is moral.

      Abortion for example – knowing when a fetus is capable of feeling distress or pain is entirely within the realms of science and provided you can agree that it might be bad to cause suffering then science by helping us quantify suffering of all individuals involved is entirely relevant. Once we have a better understanding of the brain we may be able to tell the exact moment when a baby is a baby.

      Same for bombing a city. Let’s consider the morality of bombing a desert compared to a city, science could in this case be used to great effect to make a clear judgment about the comparative effects. You have but to accept the premise that we are interested in the suffering of conscious creatures.

      The whole field of psychology is geared towards helping us understand what makes us happy. As imperfect as our science is in this realm we are certainly pursuing anti-depressants in this very goal.

      As for this being a belief system, well it simply isn’t. Science may be able to answer some of these questions to some degree now, other questions may be beyond us. Other questions may be thought answered, only to find out with more information we develop a better model. None of this relies of faith. I don’t need faith to know these methods work I can see the results all around me. I can fly in an aircraft, get cures to diseases that would have been treated with prayer or exorcism only a couple of hundred years ago. I can measure directly the benefits by comparing life expectancy in countries which still rely on faith for health care. I can put a priest without a pilot license in an a480 and wait for years with no success to take off on prayer alone. Or I can put a pilot in and take off now. If some aspect of science turns out to be wrong it can be overturned and if the evidence is convincing I will throw away my beliefs in a heartbeat. That is the very antithesis of faith.

      And what pray tell is your alternative? Faith in a deity you cannot prove exists? You would base your decisions about morality on what scripture?

      Let’s have a little look-see at what the Bible says about abortion and child murder?

      Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD. — Numbers 3:15-16

      So not a human until 1 month old, so God thinks it okay for a retrospective abortion?

      And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. — Numbers 31:15-17

      Child murder is justified how? Were these children evil?

      Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. — Hosea 9:14

      God is happy to abort.

      Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. — Hosea 9:16

      If you sin God kills your innocent baby?

      Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up. — Hosea 13:16

      Women with child ripped up. Infants dashed to pieces?

      Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. — 2 Samuel 12:14

      Child dies for sins of the parent. Perhaps women wanting an abortion should just commit blasphemy and save the bother and expense of an abortion clinic.

      The priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell. And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. …
      And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed. — Numbers 5:21-21, 27-28

      spell for testing if unfaithful women are in fact unfaithful. If they have conceived through an affair the child must die. After all he paid good money to buy the woman.

      Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. — Genesis 38:24

      Again another confirmation being slutty results not only in your death but the death of the poor child.

      The LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon…. And there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. — Exodus 12:29-30

      (this was after the Pharaoh had tried to release the Jews several times only to have God harden his heart, as he told Moses he would before Moses began his campaign. So God murdered these children unnecessarily to make a point about how powerful he was.)

      And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. — 2 Kings 2:23-24

      Cheeky children deserve to be eaten by bears.

      Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. — Psalm 137:9

      Of course science will never be able to determine what causes happiness but faith can. Apparently happiness is dashing little ones against rocks.

      What does it say about rape?

      If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. — Deuteronomy 22:23-24

      So if she cannot cry out (perhaps his hand is over her mouth) it’s her fault she was raped

      But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. … For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. — Deuteronomy 22:25-27

      This clarifies the first- definitely her fault in a city she is at least presumed to have screamed her lungs out far from other. This shows the rape victims is also considered a sinner.

      And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. — Numbers 31:15-18

      Child murder, pedophilia and rape.

      So religion and faith gives us what alternative? None that don’t cause more evil. So yes I’d agree the universe does not care if we wreck this planet, kill each other, but you are missing the most simple point possible. I care! I care about my wife, my son, my extended family friends, the students I teach and my society! I have evolved to care – certainly not the only strategy that could have evolved, if I was a crocodile I probably would not care but as a primate I do. I have evolved emotions (not personally evolved them just the recipient of my emotions) and as such I can use science to maximize my chances of survival and interest and fun and love of life. None of this requires faith. Although I remain open to be convinced otherwise (another scientific principle). You’ve made the assertion about science never been able to touch this stuff I’d love to hear some evidence.

      Regards

  • By Asad Hashim

    Islamabad, Pakistan – On the afternoon of January 7, Ahmed Raza Naseer was sitting with his brother at their shop in a small village just outside the central Pakistani town of Nankana Sahib, […]

    • They are being accused of blasphemy – a crime that carries a judicial
      death sentence….

      We better be careful not to blaspheme Trump!!

  • By Melissa Healy

    In Washington, D.C., revelers and protesters are marking the ascendance of a new president and the populist movement he says he has mobilized.

    Some 1,600 miles away in San Antonio, […]

    • From the article above:

      “We grew up in an era when it was just presumed that reason and evidence were the ways to understand important issues; not fear, vested interests, tradition or faith,” Hornsey said. “But the rise of climate skepticism and the anti-vaccination movement made us realize that these enlightenment values are under attack.”

      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/enlightenment/

      The Enlightenment, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

      The Enlightenment is the period in the history of western thought and culture, stretching roughly from the mid-decades of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, characterized by dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics; these revolutions swept away the medieval world-view and ushered in our modern western world. Enlightenment thought culminates historically in the political upheaval of the French Revolution, in which the traditional hierarchical political and social orders (the French monarchy, the privileges of the French nobility, the political power and authority of the Catholic Church) were violently destroyed and replaced by a political and social order informed by the Enlightenment ideals of freedom and equality for all, founded, ostensibly, upon principles of human reason. The Enlightenment begins with the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rise of the new science progressively undermines not only the ancient geocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles. D’Alembert, a leading figure of the French Enlightenment, characterizes his eighteenth century, in the midst of it, as “the century of philosophy par excellence”, because of the tremendous intellectual progress of the age, the advance of the sciences, and the enthusiasm for that progress, but also because of the characteristic expectation of the age that philosophy (in this broad sense) would dramatically improve human life.

    • What makes some smart people so skeptical of science?

      Naïve realism and the failure to recognize the juvenile egocentrism that goes with it.

      Which means they are not so smart after all.

    • The Enlightenment philosophers fought against religion and the church because of its role in the indoctrination of the people. Religion robs us of our ability to develop and use our tools of skepticism. Without a skeptical outlook on life we will always be vulnerable to all manner of hogwash and magical thinking and will be taken advantage of by every charlatan and snake oil salesman to come down the pike.

      No matter how smart a person might be, if their ability to discern truth from fiction has been compromised since they were children, then they’ll have an uphill battle when they try to analyze information that requires critical thinking and logic.

      Religious belief and rational thinking are diametrically opposed. Smart people can be irrational!

      Better to have a lower IQ with strong ability to think skeptically than a high IQ but with no understanding of logic, critical analysis and rational thinking.

    • @OP – Psychologists ask: What makes some smart people so skeptical of science?

      I would say it is the public inability to recognise smart thinking!

      Smart thinking should not be confused with plausible confident babbling!

      There is a world of difference between a rich sociopath with a fancy haircut in a smart suit , and an intellectual with a smart brain!

    • I think by definition that if someone is skeptical of science then they are not smart. End of. It’s just semantics to call them smart but then wonder why they act dumb.

    • @OP – Psychologists ask: What makes some smart people so skeptical of science?

      This headline is clearly a misuse of the terms “smart” and in the scientific context, the misuse of “skeptical”!

      An ignoramus in denial of science is not “sceptical”, in any scientific context of the word – (which implies informed criticism based on understanding).
      Anyone too incompetent to look up reputable sources of educational information on man-made climate change, the safety of childhood vaccines, or Darwin’s theory of evolution, is NOT “smart”!

      Nobody lacking the basic skills of seeking information to accurately inform and educate themselves, correct their errors, or correct errors in information presented to them by others, can be considered to be “smart”!

      That is not to say that the really dim cheerleaders who share conspiracy theories and bigoted views, will not pronounce each other to be “smart”, – but that is purely a matter of flawed judgement based cognitive bias, and has nothing to do with education, intelligence, competence, or intellect!

    • Nobody lacking the basic skills of seeking information to accurately inform and educate themselves, correct their errors, or correct errors in information presented to them by others, can be considered to be “smart”!

      Alan, those basic skills that we use to filter truth from fiction, do they need to be taught in a formal way? I have to say that personally, I’d have none of those skills if I had taken the easy road and remained a member of the Methodist church as my family wanted and expected and followed the traditional plan for a woman my age. But the fact that I went to college and pursued a science degree changed everything in how I see the world and process information. I was forced to take two semesters of college statistics. I never swallowed anything hook, line and sinker ever again. Probability and truth has all been reduced to numbers now for me. I can’t understand how nonscience majors are filtering truth from fiction without probability equations – I realize that plenty of them are managing to do it somehow.

      As much as I love your Dunning-Kruger effect (learned about it from you), there are two sides to that coin.

      From Wiki

      The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.[1]

      I have a teacher friend who has developed a course for high school students that teaches them skeptical thinking skills. It’s fantastic! I only wish it would be imported into the standard curriculum for the whole country!

      My point is that it takes a monumental effort to teach the hoi polloi the skeptical thinking tools that they need for a basic competence. They have already been programed by religious institutions to believe what they’re told or burn in hell. Thinking outside the box is way too scary for them! Haven’t we all seen the expressions of terror when we float a few out of the box ideas directly to them? Try telling these people that their imaginary friend in the sky doesn’t exist and that we’re all alone together on this big rock hurtling through space and we need to solve our problems all by ourselves. Terror. But with the right tools – where is the evidence for the existence of God and what is the probability that such an entity could exist, (Richard addressed this in TGD) it’s really a straight shot to atheism. I (we) have those tools (learned) and they just don’t have them.

      The author of the article should have explained what was meant by the word “smart”. High IQ ? High level of academic accomplishment? Neither of these would indicate a competency in the area of skeptical thinking necessarily. And there must be plenty of people out there with average IQs and modest level of education who know a bullshit story when they hear one. Just saying that it’s a separate skill.

    • Climate denial and Evolution denial are laughable. The information is clear on these two.

      With regard to vaccines, I am not so convinced. I have seen it happening to my son. Clear as day. I have read many testimonies on the internet which seem to be honest and similar to mine. I have heard many industry whistleblowers talking about falsification of safety results. I have also studied the problem a little, and the schedule of vaccines for newborns and composition seem problematic to say the least.

      Suppose I am wrong, and ultimately the vaccines are “generally” safe. How would I know that to be the case? There is a lot of contradictory information out there, some of it coming from credible sources.
      Also, the US government has paid a lot of money for vaccine injuries. So how are they safe?

    • An innate sense of dishonesty created by fear. Self-preservation, real or imagined, at any cost.

    • What is happening today has been developing for more than a decade among the population of the West : economic policies that have led to a strong erosion of the middle classes that have been forming since the end of W W II. Citizens have fallen into total uncertainty because of the political establishment is unable to explain what will happen to the economies of families due to the emergence of the new technologies; The general impression is that our children will live worse than their parents. The result is that the society of free citizens is becoming a mass society whose main trait is the predominance of a false illusion over reality, also the mass society is impressionable, credulous, intolerant, uncritical, fickle, impulsive; unconscious, simple and exalted and suffers from lack of perseverance ( according to French sociologist Gustave Le Bon, 1841- 1931).
      If you put all together all these ingredients you will understand what’s going on today in the West and why a fellow like Trump won the elections; Le Bon adds : “the mass does not exist without a leader and this one must present qualities like: a strong personality, a strong belief and powerful will ( even to convince the masses about the bullshit he is saying). The real problem is the thinning of the middle class ranks. If there is no solution to this problem, soon we will have a tiny percentage of a wealthy leading class and a huge mass of brainless assholes.

    • My father’s mother, an Italian lady “right off the boat”, used to call me smartadomb (i spelled it phonetically to simulate how her Italian accent would make it sound). She’d use this term whenever I’d do something spectacularly idiotic. Like when I fell out of a tree into a thicket of sticker bushes, face first, and was held, six inches from the ground by the stickers… I had to have the fire dep’t come get me out. Some poor fireman had to climb the tree and drop a lasso around my feet and then loop the rope over a branch and other fireman had to hoist me out. Quite dramatic!

      She would shake her head and mutter smartadomb…. Or when I got my head stuck in the neighbor’s wrought iron fence and was stuck for six hours. Or when a playdate ended with me at the ER (so many times my parents were investigated by CYS). I put my head through our TV screen. I had an arrow from a kids bow and arrow set stuck in my tear duct (almost lost the eye), I had the head of a claw hammer embedded in my forehead. I jumped off a train trestle onto what i thought was a frozen stream — it wasn’t that frozen and I went through AND UNDER THE ICE! I drove a minibike through a garage door. Broke my femur when some bullies chased me up a tree — and then got an ax and cut the tree down with me in it (it took 4 hours). I could list a hundred more.

      Anyway, this is not groundbreaking “science”, here. I am rather smart… or am I? I am smart AND dumb. So is everyone. It just so happens, my “dumb spot” is foreign language (and risky behavior–when I was younger). Try as i might, after 4 years of high school French and one year of college French, i couldn’t speak it with any more fluidity than when I started. Everyone has a “dumb spot” .. some people’s just happens to be science.

    • Anthony Mandolin,
      I am very sorry that you “have seen it happening to your son”. I’d like to offer you a bit of (hopefully) wisdom.

      Illusions are very very strong. I am emphatically sympathetic to you and your boy, however, what you are seeing occur would have occurred with or without the vaccines. The only additional thing that could have occurred, had you decided to forgo the vaccines, would be additional sickness and discomfort. Please do not carry guilt or resentment regarding the timing of the onset of your son’s malady and it’s coincidental chronology with the vaccination schedule.

      Do yourself a huge favor and look for adult onset autism after vaccination or booster. And, when you see that it is non existent, please exhale and give yourself a break.

      The illusion of creation can be extraordinarily strong — look at bacterial operons. These genetic switches are so so damn clever in their make up and operation, that it is easy to want to attribute their existence to a designer and an intelligent one at that. Then, you see the human genitals and realize that there is a sewer pipe running through a recreational area and realize, it is just an illusion of design because a chimp could and would do a better job with the design of many many things, like DNA polymerase (it only goes one way)… like the laryngeal nerve in the giraffe, the list is crazy long…

      Such is the illusion of vaccines causing autism. There would be evidence and a mechanism, and an explanation, and it would be medicine and logical… no one who knows how the immune system works and who understands how vaccines are prepared thinks they cause autism. And, if there is a small minority who make the claim, the onus is on them to demonstrate it. Not to confuse and scare people and have them carrying around a lifetime of guilt over their decisions hurting their own child.

    • I can understand being highly sceptical of any science that came out of Monsanto, Nestle, Merck, or Exxon Mobil, but what replaces it? anonymous internet posters? Supermarket tabloids? Oprah? Dr. Oz? religious texts?

      There are various science educators whom I trust if they tell me some now science is legit. They have built up a reputation with me for years, e.g. David Attenborough, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, Bill Nye…

    • I can understand being highly sceptical of any science that came out of Monsanto, Nestle, Merck, or Exxon Mobil, but what replaces it?

      Publicly-funded peer-reviewed research in Universities.

      That’s what academia is supposed to be mostly about.

    • What makes some smart people so skeptical of science?

      I do not know how “smart” can be “skeptical of science” but… .
      Anyway, I have noticed around that people generaly are less and less willing to learn and I think it has something to do with responsibility and speed in wich events are taking place in the world. Information is coming to us with a greater speed than before thanks to a comunication devices. People are getting to many information in too short time and in my point of view they can not process them in quality. By that I mean to absorb them with apropriate skepticism or time to learn its functions and properties. I see people do not want to learn any more because they have no time for NEW, so they stay in OLD which is familiar and well known and what is important it gives a sense of being safe (security). In general science is going ahead and brings NEW things to be learned, more information. Quantity of information has replaced quality and people perhaps are being skeptical of any information that comes, by skeptical here I mean a sort of self-defence by which they refuse a priori any information. But there is also a too many false information that come to us with same speed generated by people with an agenda to undermine science. Unfortunately I do not know of any inspectors who are controling and prevent and punish lies and false informations on internet. Basicly anyone can say what they want regardless of truth and punishment and that is perhaps most dangerous weapon in the world.

  • By Sophie Gilbert

    Roe, which opened at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage just days before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, is a modern kind of history play, a production that considers a crucial issue i […]

    • What abortion debate?

      Is that similar to the climate debate?

    • Just had a conversation with my 77 year old mom. She was telling me that when she was a kid it wasn’t unusual to hear about women who died or nearly died from back alley and self induced abortions at home. She said that young people today have no idea how desperate women were to control the size of their families but had no way to do so.

      I asked her to talk about this and make this history known whenever she gets the chance.

      Hmmm, is this play staying at that theater or will it go on the road? I hope it makes its way to Boston.

    • I saw Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers) tell a story about a tragedy that was on the news when he was a small boy. He was scared by the hate/vitriol/violence of whatever act was being reported upon. His mother said to him, ” son, anytime you see this type of thing, look at all the people that rush to help.” They by far out number the ones doing the hurt.

      This is (I hope) what we will see on display, globally, as the folly of the American Presidency attempts to hurt people. The Netherlands has stepped up on this front. Please, everyone, look at the ones who step up to help. And, do not have short memories regarding these acts of heroism in the face of a bully president, and, yes, a bully country. Look at the crowds. Look at the bystanders. Look at the commonality of good and imprint on it.

      If you look for it, you will see it, and hopefully realize that. ultimately it will win out. This 4 years is going to set things back. But, that is all it will be, a setback.

  • By Marina Koren

    The experience of weightlessness is confusing for human bodies. The eyes tell you you’re gently bobbing up and down, while your inner ear screams that you’re tumbling about, making you nauseous. […]

  • By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
    Republicans say the Affordable Care Act provides health insurance that manages to be both lousy and expensive. Whatever the flaws of these policies, the new Trump administration is trying […]

    • @OP – He looked pained as he described the terrible predicament of people who earned around $30,000 to $50,000 a year and had to deny “themselves the kind of care that they need” because they had Obamacare policies with deductibles of $6,000 to $12,000. Yet, earlier in the same hearing, Mr. Price extolled the virtues of policies that would be woefully inadequate — policies that cover medical treatment only in catastrophic cases. Such policies often have deductibles of around $14,000 for family coverage. This is simple hypocrisy. Condemn the policy you don’t like, propose something far worse as a replacement and claim that it is much better.

      That is pretty much a standard right-wing deception!

      It is the usual:- “We will cut budgets, and thus make things much better”, (- because of our ideological magical efficiency touch in areas we know nothing about)!

      The brexiteers are busy selling the UK public the same sort of barmy fairy-stories about “best deals for Britain” – if only they can keep their lack of a coherent plan hidden, and get everyone to follow their problematic ideology, and throw away the best deal we already have, and which is the best deal we are going to get!

    • Arkrid,
      I’ve taken it upon myself to move a copy of your comment over here to this thread because I think it’s right smack on topic here and I think that your idea of Americans going abroad to get the health care that they need is worth talking about. From the 5 Reasons a Trump Administration… thread.

      Arkrid Sandwich #181
      Jan 22, 2017 at 3:59 am
      Now that sanctions have been lifted on Cuba I don’t see why Americans can’t go there now for their healthcare and drugs. As anyone who watched Sicko (Michael Moore’s documentary) knows the medical care there is excellent and 1/10th the cost of the USA. An influx of American customers would kickstart their economy too.

      This idea isn’t new. Apparently there are good health care facilities and staff that operate in other countries that affluent Americans have been accessing for quite some time. I know two Americans, friends, who have done this. One is an MIT professor whose late 20’s son came down with liver cancer and had no medical insurance. He offered to pay any amount of premiums but no insurance co. would touch the kid with a preexisting condition like that. Our friend and son took off to India and purchased a new liver plus install at 80,000 dollars and change. When they got back here no insurance co. would pay for aftercare and no doctor would take him on as a patient. A year later he was dead. Another young friend in need of several dental implants went to Belize and had them done there and also had a wonderful vacation all for a price that was much less than just the cost of implants alone here in the States.

      Cuba must be a good option for affordable health care for Americans. Close proximity to our shores. Price of living is cheap while staying there. As I live in the Northeast part of the country my first thoughts go to Canada for health care if things go badly wrong here. Maybe we’ll see a new line of business that involves shuttling people across borders to access good medical care that is actually affordable. There are people here in the NE who travel to Canada to buy prescription meds for bargain prices already.

      I want to point out that our Professor friend and others who make these treks overseas have the financial resources to do so. They are not the average American by any means. I am reminded also of the years before Roe v Wade, when women of means traveled to other places to have abortions or birth control that was not available to them in their home areas. Wealthy women also have utilized their connections to get abortions through friendly Doctors who were sympathetic to their needs. The daughters of the upper and upper middle class don’t have unwanted babies one after another who drag them right down into poverty. This is unacceptable. We throw money at the problem, the problem is solved, the sordid affair is swept under the rug and forgotten. That’s how it worked (works).

      My point is, if you have a few bucks to spare you can get what you want and need. If you’re struggling to pay for the roof over your head and food for your kids then you’re at the mercy of the predatory capitalists and doomed to a life of poverty and sickness and every other misery that citizens in other countries don’t even worry about.

      So yes, as I’ve said before, Americans have been conned bigtime. What’s it going to take for them to see that they are cheering for their own medical misery? A big propaganda campaign that’s what.

      From the article above:

      When it comes to health care, Mr. Price and other Republicans say their goal is to give people more choices. It is hard to argue against choice. But in the ideological world inhabited by Mr. Price, House Speaker Paul Ryan and many other Republicans, choice is often a euphemism for scrapping sensible regulations that protect people.

      Right! We should all have our radar up and running to detect this word “choice” when used by the reactionary forces that are trying to con us all. Healthcare “choice” as explained in this article and for some years now we’ve been hearing about school “choice” as well – a thinly veiled attempt to drain funding away from the public school system and funnel it straight into charter schools and straight into private religious schools that indoctrinate children.

    • The galling irony is that these snake-oil salesmen see themselves as the true Americans patriots.

    • My sister who used to live in the US and has just moved back down under was back over Christmas and broke her leg in 20 places in a skiing accident. There was some issue over her cover with her insurer over here fortunately even though she wasn’t on a plan that covered skiing as she had stated that they were skiing and they hadn’t asked her to upgrade her travel insurance they recognised that this was their fault and paid it. She had a nervous few days while they were figuring out how they’d pay a $70 000 dollar medical bill if the insurer didn’t pay. Had she had the same break over here she would have hopped out the hospital (in a cast) with a bill of ($0).

      Yes we are all taxed 2% of our taxable income (if you earn over a certain amount) If you earn over $90 000 a year you pay an additional surcharge so total amount is slightly higher. Realistically this might mean paying $1500 a year if you were on $120 000 per year, you don’t pay a surcharge if you have private cover, but I think I’d rather give my money to public hospitals even if I could afford it. If you are under $21 000 you pay nothing at all. So a similar break would be $0, no second mortgage, no bankruptcy, just fix you up can get back to work. It never ceases to amaze me how much of a scrooge America is with peoples health and education.

    • Reckless Monkey #5
      Jan 23, 2017 at 6:44 am

      Yes we are all taxed 2% of our taxable income (if you earn over a certain amount) If you earn over $90 000 a year you pay an additional surcharge so total amount is slightly higher.

      Ah! But Americans spend 2% of GDP on the military, so mad generals and admirals can pose as super-men to cause mischief, political unrest, and civil wars, all over the planet!
      Think of the “beneficial value” to American and other country’s citizens from that!! 🙂

    • LaurieB #2
      Jan 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Arkrid,
      I’ve taken it upon myself to move a copy of your comment over here to this thread

      Thank you Laurie.

      I cannot quite get my head round why Republicans are so against a single payer universal health care system. It works perfectly in every other country. Well not perfectly because no healthcare system has infinite resources but the sheer fact of being able to visit a doctor or hospital with no charge and no fear of it making you bankrupt, losing your house, or having to choose between which fingers you want sewn back on is so infinitely preferable to any alternative that only irrational people could be against it.

      The American healthcare system costs nearly 3 trillion dollars a year and gives worse life expectancies and medical outcomes than any other western democracy’s free system. It costs 18% of USA gdp which is nearly twice what other countries spend. A saving of 1 trillion dollars a year would be easy to achieve if the for profit motive and insurance companies were taken out of the equation. That trillion dollars could pay for incredible education, infrastructure or even the military for those who think it isn’t already big enough which it clearly is. You squander your lifeblood on a healthcare system that costs twice what it should and is crap to boot. It cripples your potential growth. It forces families into agonising choices. It destroys lives. It destroys health. It destroys hope.

    • Alan4discussion #6
      Jan 23, 2017 at 7:15 am

      Ah! But Americans spend 2% of GDP on the military,

      Way more than that. Nearly double that by the official figures that are “on the books” and it’s not really certain how much of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were paid for “off the books”.

    • Arkrid Sandwich #8
      Jan 23, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Way more than that. Nearly double that by the official figures that are “on the books” and it’s not really certain how much of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were paid for “off the books”.

      Yes – I should have said more than 2% of GDP.
      2% minimum is what they are demanding other NATO countries pay.

      Harvard estimates the Iraq and Afghan wars cost between $4 and $6 trillion – much of it borrowed – with interest payable by tax payers.

    • There is an election coming up in two years and hopefully we can compromise the total support that Trump and co. enjoy right now with control of congress. Sad to say, we will end up with a Supreme court that is tilted toward the reactionaries’ interests and this is a big problem. More on this later. We need to concentrate on the House of Reps and the Senate right now. Between now and the midterm elections the Americans will have a clear picture of Trump and his intentions. Frightens me to say that right now.

      Where will we be (worldwide) in two years time? Right now the people who voted for this psycho are in full blown confirmation bias mode but how long can they hold onto that in the face of international chaos that we anticipate and the domestic pain that will follow from what he is aiming at right now? If Trump and Repubs have their way, then in two years time millions here will have lost their health insurance and realize the consequences of that.

      Twenty somethings that have always had insurance under their parents’ plan will lose it overnight and face the frightening reality of what it means to be at the mercy (total lack of it) of the money grubbing insurance companies. Profit is priority!!! Will these young people get out there and vote this time? Will they come out to the streets for visible protest and make themselves noticed? Based on what I saw the past days I’m encouraged. My own daughters came back from the Boston protest march greatly inspired and motivated to do more. We should keep it in mind that these young adults don’t remember the 60’s and 70’s here and everything that protest in the streets and on campuses accomplished. They don’t know what power they hold in their hands!! I’d like the images of these protests to be put out there directly for them to see how it was done back then. It worked.

      Let’s just hope that the press are up to the task of presenting full coverage to the public here of every lie and predatory policy that this bunch of thugs pushes through their selfish, ethically bankrupt Republican congress. Now we will really see how important is the free press, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly here in this place and at this time. I feel that these freedoms are bending under the strain of the situation here but this is the stuff that builds a resilience and this is a good thing. We are being tested right now.

      A friend of mine once told me that nobody appreciates what they have until the day that they lose it. Maybe that’s what it takes.

    • Amazing. It was just explained to us in the press conference that a message will be sent out to the world that the US stands for protecting life and that means pre-born babies.

      I wonder what certain other people in this world will think in response to our statement of devotion to “life”. Maybe they will notice that we value certain life forms but find others to be irrelevant or even bothersome.

    • There are few groups that vex me more than politicians and insurance companies. But, the mix of the two is almost too much for me to wrap my head around. A few things:
      1. be careful of “liking” the Democrat line of profiteering over the Republican line of profiteering. Trust in one thing, both sides are greedy fucks and lining their own pockets with kickbacks and corrupt “donations” from the insurance companies who stand to idly sit there and rake in BILLIONS. Just because the policy of your “pet” political party may seem to benefit you and those who you associate with, said system may NOT be what benefits most citizens or benefits most citizens IN NEED.

      having said this, it is extraordinarily hard to put any credence or stock into any for-profit system that the republicans dream up.
      I am on the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware and sincerely can project a time in the next decade when Pa. “runs out of” obstetricians. Our citizens will have to travel out of state to have their kids delivered. This is because our corrupt money grabbing thugs have allowed insurance companies to raise the malpractice insurance on OB to literally fantastic heights. Our OB/GYN specialists are a thing of the past — they’ve either moved to practice elsewhere, or dropped the OB. Point being, the situation LaurieB has reposted (Akrid’s great points) is already in motion on a smaller scale in within the states — let alone among countries).

      They are fucking this up too. And it is solely because of money. Shame. One thing trump is right about is we need a complete shake up of our politics. IMO, you could easily drop every single sitting representative in the house and senate and replace them with homeless folks and get as goo or a better product for the American people. —- Oh, if you stipulate that they only payment these people will get for performing their jobs is the salary and not crazy shit tons of money delivered to their door by the lobbies. What a mess.

  • By Claudia Dreifus
    Geneticists tell us that somewhere between 1 and 5 percent of the genome of modern Europeans and Asians consists of DNA inherited from Neanderthals, our prehistoric cousins.
    At Vanderbilt […]

    • One question I haven’t yet seen asked or answered in articles and TV programmes about our Neanderthal DNA is how much if any of this shared DNA could be the result of horizontal gene transmission by retro-viruses rather than vertical gene transmission by mating. I understand we have quite a few genes in common with some animals which must be due to such horizontal transmission because we can’t mate with them and can’t have inherited them from a common ancestor because the shared genes are only found in particular geographical locations.

      Another question is how many of these shared genes may have been acquired by Neanderthals from us rather than by us from Neanderthals.

      Finally, how can we be sure that Africans have no Neanderthal DNA? After all we share about 99% of our genes with chimps due to inheritance from a distant common ancestor; so we presumably share even more of our genes with Neanderthals due to inheritance from a distant common ancestor. So any genes inherited by all humans (including Africans) from Neanderthals might be hard to distinguish from the far more common genes inherited from a distant common ancestor. And if you go back far enough we almost all have some ancestry from other continents, so I would expect almost all Africans have some European and Asian ancestry, and should therefore have inherited some Neanderthal DNA from those European and Asian ancestors.

      Maybe some of your readers who know more about this than I do might be able to supply answers for some of my above three questions.

  • By Nicholas St. Fleur
    With its bone-dry grasslands and oppressive heat, the middle of the Namib Desert may seem like a strange place to go fishing. Yet there Jennifer Guyton and Tyler Coverdale were, standing in […]

  • By Loren Grush
    Scientists say they have figured out the most precise age for the Moon than ever before, thanks to samples of lunar rocks gathered during NASA’s Apollo 14 mission. Analysis of the rocks pinpoint t […]

    • @OP – link – So knowing the Moon’s age gives us a good idea of when the Earth started to become a suitable place to live.

      I think it would be more accurate to say it sets a date before which enduring life would have been impossible on Earth!

      Earth becoming ” a suitable place to live” for early life, came further on in the consolidation and cooling process of the planet.
      We don’t know quite how much further on, but a set surface crust, a great reduction in material dropping out of orbit on to the surface, and a surface cool enough for water to persist as a liquid, were probable requirements!
      The Moon as a smaller body, could be expected to cool sooner than Earth.

  • By Frank DiGiacomo

    Warren Allen Smith stood in his cramped Greenwich Village studio apartment and recalled the time he scared the heck out of Gore Vidal.

    It was 1995, Mr. Smith said, and Mr. Vidal was making […]

  • By Sohaila Abdulali

    On a recent return to New York after a short trip to India, I waltzed through immigration with my nice blue US passport. It says “Abdulali”, but nobody seemed to care. Will that be dif […]

    • I’m certainly proud to express my atheistic worldview when confronted with any situation that calls for said expression. Being brought up Roman Catholic I accepted the god of Abraham and was taught Jesus was the Lord and Savior of all mankind. Though beginning in my late teenage years I began to fall away from these beliefs when confronted with contradictory information.
      I find myself becoming exceedingly more anxious as the time moves closer to the inauguration of Donald Trump. This article just provides me with less comfort knowing that this man could have to be forced to register as something he is not.
      The writer a fellow non-believer but is subjected to unwarranted stress due to a gratuitous label. I can’t help but feel that small amount of anger and discontent towards my fellow Americans, including my close friends and family, who put this goon in office.

    • @OP – am I now supposed to justify myself every time I come home?

      This is just a further manifestation of the anti-education, brain-lazy, know-it-all Republicans of the Xtian Right, who look to create victims to bully and attack, as an alternative to thinking through solutions to complex problems.

      Of course this sort of scapegoating is self perpetuating as their brain-lazy approach to management generates problems where victim blaming can boost their egotistical delusions of expertise.

      The instances of Republican states blaming and victimising trans-sexuals for their state’s discriminating failure to recognise needs and organise suitable public wash-room facilities and toilets for all, is another example!

      The religious and politically motivated attacks on science and scientists, by the ignorant in denial, is another example!

    • This article made no sense whatsoever.

    • Strangelove, what do you mean? You didn’t understand it or you agree with it or what? How is one supposed to understand your meaning when quite clearly the article did make sense. The man is deeply concerned about his future standing in the USA. If you think that is meaningless, then say so.

    • The article is written by a woman.

    • I may be throwing my ignorance around here, but in reference to a statement at the end of the article, how does one go about becoming 36% Muslim? Does such a person do this by only adopting 36 out of every 100 Islamic tenets?

    • fadeordraw, I’m just curious as to why you refer to our president-elect as a king and emperor. Is this simply because you don’t see his election victory as legitimate?

      About the wall, I was skeptical about it being built when Trump was elected, despite his campaign promise to do so. But now I believe it will be built. I know my position on this matter will be frowned upon here, but I’m all for the wall, as I’m against illegal immigration.

      Actually, I’m against anything and everything illegal.

      …just my 2 pesos.

    • Michael Rohde #8
      Jan 18, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Actually, I’m against anything and everything illegal.

      This is somewhat of a circular argument and a politically null position!

      Anything is “legal” if the local legislature and jurisdiction approves it!

      Opposing apartheid, corrupt governments, assassination (police) squads, and blasphemy persecutions, is “illegal” according to local laws, in those corrupt jurisdictions and theocracies!

    • Michael Rohde #6
      Jan 18, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      I may be throwing my ignorance around here, but in reference to a statement at the end of the article, how does one go about becoming 36% Muslim? Does such a person do this by only adopting 36 out of every 100 Islamic tenets?

      It is possible to be “cultural Muslim” (ie. a person coming from a Muslin background and upbringing), in the same way as it is possible to be a cultural Christian and an atheist – but probably more difficult in a theocracy where Muslim apostasy is punishable by death or imprisonment!

    • Michael Rohde – You are spot on. This country has always supported LEGAL immigration. I want to ask many on the left; “What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?”. I also see no reason that one should be rewarded for breaking a country’s laws. I can promise you that if I sneaked into any other country and announced that ‘hey, I want some special favors even though I broke your country’s laws’ that I would either be tossed out the door on my bum or shown a jail cell for awhile.

      Trump is going to do just fine. He turned most of the states from blue to red and beat out a great many contenders with far more financing and political experience during the primaries. Hillary was a horribly flawed candidate. Think about it,, the FIRST female presidential candidate EVER in the history of the country and she couldn’t get more than 51 percent of the country’s women to vote for her. She tried every trick in the book, like throwing up some women making accusations against Trump weeks before the election… and notice these women have all ‘mysteriously’ disappeared from the media. When the Democrats can’t win the first thing they do is throw the ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ label in an attempt to shut-up a candidate. The latter is remarkable considering the Democratic Party was the party that supported black slavery and it took a Republican president to free the slaves – much to the consternation of the Democrats of the time who wanted slaves and old Bill Clinton couldn’t keep his hands off the ladies or keep his zipper, zipped up. The Democrats (and establishment Republicans) need to look seriously in the mirror and stop the denial and misinformation.

      As to this article – if 9 out of 10 times people are bitten and get seriously ill or die from the bite of a polkadot snake,, guess what? Society rightly makes the observation that they need to be careful and monitor the location of the polka-dotted snake. It doesn’t mean that society ‘hates’ polka-dots – just that they have recognized a pattern from whence the trouble seems to stem. To do otherwise would be foolhardy. So, there is absolutely nothing wrong about vetting people who come from areas of the world from where terrorism seems to arise.

      So, Michael,, you are not alone in your observations – the election proved that. Despite having voted as a Democrat in the previous two presidential elections, I realized it was time for a different course and not just ‘more of the same nothing’. The change of power from one president to another is an amazing thing to witness. If the establishment Repubs don’t get in Trump’s way, I think we are onto a positive direction – FINALLY!

    • Eddie #12
      Jan 19, 2017 at 6:58 am

      Despite having voted as a Democrat in the previous two presidential elections, I realized it was time for a different course and not just ‘more of the same nothing’. The change of power from one president to another is an amazing thing to witness.

      It seems that you have bought Trump’s hype hook line and sinker!
      Just because the Democrats have poor candidates or are in the pockets of corporate sponsors, that does not make Trump a better candidate!

      Most of Obama’s lack of progress can be attributed to Republican opposition and obstruction in both elected houses!

      He has just “drained a massive section of the corrupt corporate swamp” into his cabinet while claiming to “fighting corrumption” – and is too know-it all incompetent, to give coherent answers to even basic questions where expert advice is readily available!
      He demonstrably has no diplomatic skills in dealing with foreign governments, but Putin may find him to be “a useful idiot”!

      You really should be careful what you wish for!

      If the establishment Repubs don’t get in Trump’s way, I think we are onto a positive direction – FINALLY!

      Let’s see how soon the inevitable political disasters change your mind when the contrast between the media fantasies, and the harsh realities of Trump’s chaotic superficiality of perceptions kick in!

      BTW: not being an American, I have never voted for Democrats or Republicans, but simply look at the competence in the objectives and manifesto promises of politicians – along with their previous track records.

      In Trump’s case, his deep underlying flaws, are so hidden by a smokescreen of superficial flaws, and knee-jerk twiterings, that it is difficult to see if he has ANY coherent policy on anything at all!

      So far his only consistent (now belatedly disclosed) policy, has been to appoint the most inappropriate people he can find, to posts in his cabinet!

    • Alan4discussion,

      I see your point, so I will rephrase and clarify my statement: with respect to current U.S. laws and policies, if it’s prefixed with illegal, I’m against it.

      I understand one can be a cultural Christian or Muslim in the manner you’ve described, but construing this into a percentage is a silly attempt to equate religiosity with race. Sorry Ben Affleck, Muslim is NOT a race, good sir.

      As for Trump’s cabinet nominees, I’m quite wary of Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt (in this order), given their stances with respect to their designated departments. On the positive end of the spectrum, I’m all for James Mattis as secretary of defense. I think this is Trump’s best cabinet choice. Mattis’ hearing responses were downright superb and consistent. I have to laugh at everyone that would prefer a lawyer or lobbyist assume this role. For their own sake, I can see why our enemies would prefer such a nominee.

    • Alan4discussion #15
      Jan 19, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      This threw up an interesting diplomatic situation in London when he announced the ban on Muslims entering America – and Sadiq Khan – ex-UK government cabinet minister was elected mayor of London!

      Another interesting feature, is that the previous mayor of London was Boris Johnson – an outspoken right-wing, brexiteer, Trump lookalike, – whose party lost to Sadiq Khan!

    • Michael Rohde #8
      Actually, I’m against anything and everything illegal.

      Do you think that social change only ever takes place within the boundaries of legal discourse? At one time segregation was the law of the land, and African Americans were forced to sit at the back of the bus.
      Was Rosa Parks out of line?

    • To Somalia Abdulali:

      The central problem is not Islam or Muslims, it is religion itself…ALL religions. As Voltair once correctly said ” Those who can make people believe absurdities, can also make people commit atrocities.”

    • I read my newsfeed today and the mess that this pompous idiot has created is really disheartening. He has fucked more shit up in ten days… He has more bad moments in ten days than Obama had in 8 years. Iraqis are saddened by his decision (Thanks Asshat, now IRAQ has the moral high ground). Canada has stepped up and offered love and compassion (Thanks pig, Canada is better at being America than we are). International and domestic outrage — not to mention the other debacles he has (is) orchestrated.

      I cannot fathom stepping all over the constitution like this. And, I was very proud of the Christian leaders in the US (doesn’t happen often, but I am being objective here). This pile of dog shit actually (wink wink, nudge nudge) said that he’d FAVOR Christians from these countries and the Christian leaders scolded him and told him it was unacceptable and that it fosters a division amongst the religions. Rarely are they that lucid, usually when something favors them, they take it with entitlement. Now, how about paying some FUCKING TAXES?

      Oh, and, way to guarantee more “home grown” terrorists and well, ISIS thanks you, they’ve never had it so so so easy to recruit. I hope the world sees the people in our country that are standing up and being heard. Let’s do this little “book keeping” exercise. Let’s see how many lives are lost in Canada due to hate, despite the “influx of Muslims”. People are people. I will wager a years salary to a penny that the good ol’ US suffers more attacks than Canada. This was played completely wrong.

      The judges who read the order said it looked like a first year college student drafted it and it doesn’t even delineate any parameters whatsoever. And, I just cannot get over the contingent in the US that rabidly defends that second amendment but has absolutely no issue with blatantly ripping peoples FIRST amendment rights away.

      I got choked up when I read a piece where the German PM beseeched Trump, from experience, NOT to build a wall. Remember Reagan? “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall”. And that disgusting shit ball Mike Pence, who two years ago decried the idea of banning Muslims and stood behind Trump with that fucking smug frat boy rapist grin. TWAT.

      Dan and LaurieB, looks like I owe you both a sincere apology. I really thought he’d be an inept buffoon, not a danger to the world order.

    • You’re a good man, Crooked.

      I hope the world sees the people in our country that are standing up
      and being heard.

      We do indeed. And it gives us great hope. (I’ve just posted a long comment to that very effect on the “5 Reasons a Trump Administration Should Scare the Sh*t … thread).

    • This is worth signing if you are from the UK: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928

    • Signed.

      Most of my friends and family have said they will, though my daughter’s worried he’ll nuke us….

    • strangelove #3
      Jan 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      This article made no sense whatsoever.

      Does it make more sense to you now, – with the benefit of hindsight?

      @#2 – This is just a further manifestation of the anti-education, brain-lazy, know-it-all Republicans of the Xtian Right, who look to create victims to bully and attack, as an alternative to thinking through solutions to complex problems.

      Perhaps my comment @#2 is also clearer – as a prediction of anticipated events!

    • crooked

      Dan and LaurieB, looks like I owe you both a sincere apology. I really thought he’d be an inept buffoon, not a danger to the world order.

      Forget about it already! Just…To the barricades!!!

    • Marco,
      I always hits me right in the “feels” when someone has the opinion that I am somehow “good”. Thank you for the compliment, it really does make a difference to me. i am a teacher and I pride myself on looking right at a person and saying things that others do not say. I tell the kids “I am proud of you”. I tell the kids “you are someone that I would want on my team”. i always try to tell someone when I hear another say something flattering about them. In a world where most spread ugly rumors and bad feelings, I try to spread good. And, if I garner a compliment along the way? Awesome! thank you for being direct and i am flattered that you think of me at all. You know who is a “good man”? LaurieB. Look at her post. LaurieB, you rock.

    • Trump just wants a steady stream of photo opportunities where he can sign bits of paper with Pence and Bannon leering behind him. Clearly he doesn’t much care what is written on the bits of paper or whether competent lawyers have actually studied them. Trump doesn’t do “details”. He doesn’t have the intelligence or attention span for it. This is not a presidency, it’s a tv show. If it was a good tv show it might be The West Wing but actually it’s more like The Worst Wing.

      Even Dick Cheney has just lambasted the travel order. Holy crap. When the man who invaded Iraq for no good reason and suck’s Satan’s dick every night before beddybyes says you’ve gone too far then you’ve really run out of road.

      Obviously every Democrat is against it but even a good handful of Republican congressmen have spoken out….except for one. Not a peep out of Paul Ryan except for a comment via a spokesman that doesn’t criticise the ban. Ryan is obviously playing from the Chris Christie, Rudi Giuliani playbook – get as far up Trump’s arse as you can bear to go and try not to breathe the stench in. It didn’t work out well for either of the above though.

      I know it’s a bugger for everyone stuck in transit but in a way I’m not that unhappy. The way Trump is running things is so insanely amateurish one might as well just keep giving him more rope. He’s doing a better job of hanging himself than anyone else could. It’s been a first week of lurching from catastrophe to crisis with several doses of utter humiliation being thrown in along the way. Several months ago I posted that Trump couldn’t run a bath properly let alone a country. I’m still liking that one-liner.

  • By Sarah Whitlock
    PITTSBURGH – I meet science skeptics everywhere.
    Buses, planes, supermarkets — all are packed with people eager to share their doubts that GMOs are safe and that climate change is real, even m […]

    • Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I fear we are entering a time when our own present day science and technology qualifies. Not the technology of some advanced alien civilization, not that of our far future, but today’s earthly every day technology.
      With a population that cannot tell science based on fact from magic, small wonder that magic aka pseudo-science is believed in as much as real science!

    • People always fear what they don’t understand. I would suggest, therefore, there must be an awful lot Donald Trump doesn’t understand. Especially when it comes to science and technology.

      Hence he has gone into denial by surrounding himself with those he hopes know even less than him. Although we are talking about science here I suspect his ignorance will branch into all other areas of government including economics, security and foreign policy.

      There is absolutely no chance of him becoming educated enough to properly discharge the office of POTUS. This may play out in a manner where he has to give up. Or does something so daft he ends up being removed from office.

      As I’ve said before, I just hope he doesn’t drag everyone else down with him.

    • The problem is that scientists are low level. Above you, there is a boss that has no interest in science and just wants a product to make a profit. News agency are also vulture who hunt for bad news. If you have bad news, they want to publish it.
      As for the boss, he shouldn’t be there. It is the research scientist that should be the boss.

      I have the same situation at work. We do technical support. We do the hard and nasty work. Above us, there is the manager who’s job is to “manage”. He interviews and hires. Checks your job. But how can you evaluate someone when you have no technology background?

    • Tim Smith #3
      Jan 18, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      People always fear what they don’t understand. I would suggest, therefore, there must be an awful lot Donald Trump doesn’t understand. Especially when it comes to science and technology.

      Hence he has gone into denial by surrounding himself with those he hopes know even less than him. Although we are talking about science here I suspect his ignorance will branch into all other areas of government including economics, security and foreign policy.

      I think events are proving you to be spot-on!

      In this immigration ban fiasco, if Trump had done any basic homework or had any understanding of the laws on immigration, he would have known that visa and green-card holders HAD been thoroughly vetted (sometimes with years of delays for investigations), and he would also have known which countries were sources of terrorists, rather than randomly picking of the citizens of countries whose governments the US does not like!

      The notion that “extreme vetting”, can be done in a last minute stops at airports is just ignorant stupidity!

      If he had any competence as a president, he would not be sacking legal officials for giving legal advice he did not like to hear, – and might even be seeking wider consultation on operational matters!

      His yes-men spouting PR rubbish about “protecting US citizens”, simply illustrates their disingenuous or incompetent approach, which is unable to distinguish ideological objectives, from competent effective actions!

  • By Jeffrey Tayler

    Whatever you do, decent progressive people, when terrorism comes up, don’t be “Islamophobic” and mention Islam! If Islam comes up anyway, do draw false equivalencies and hobble yours […]

    • Olgun, Is the U.S. of A the sole author of all Global ills? Or are people just deciding that “Capitalism” is surely the “root” of all global problems and that Capitalism = USA in the very simplified equation of west-hating?
      All seems very complicated and chaotic to be able blame one super-power over all the other global influences that are presently making such a mess of global politics. I think that Islam v Capitalism will probably bring about the final third world war and possibly the extinction of the human-race. Won’t be a big surprise given the innate stupidity of the third chimpanzee.

    • Thank goodness for you, Olgun.

      Of course we must be able to openly criticise those things that deserve to be criticised; but it would be nice if we could do so with both honesty and nuance. And as you have pointed out, a sense of perspective doesn’t go amiss either.

      A close adherence to the tenets of fundamentalist Islam is absolutely one of the dangers facing the world. But it is not the only one. And – for those of us in the West, in terms of actual numbers of victims – not even the greatest one.

      And anyone who assumes that Islam in all its forms, or that every single Muslim, must automatically also be one of the dangers facing the world is voicing a pretty fundamentalist view of their own.

      I have frequently observed a tendency among some people here to assume that every single religious person either does or should interpret their “holy” texts literally. I suspect that the people who think this have never personally been religious. Because – whatever the theory, and whatever the religious fundamentalists may claim – in reality, religion has as much to do with culture and family, and a sense of belonging and of emotional and psychological security as it has to do with specific texts. And although it may not be either logical or rational, the reality is that, IN PRACTICE, most religious people – whether Muslim or Christian or whatever – don’t actually take the texts literally and do perform all sorts of mental contortions to convince themselves that they are not required to.

      And a bloody good thing too. We’re not going to get rid of religion, so the best we can hope for is that more and more religious followers understand that they don’t need to take the most bloodcurdling calls to violence and destruction literally. Why anyone here should wish to tell them that, actually, they do, is absolutely beyond me.

    • I think that Islam v Capitalism will probably bring about the final third world war and possibly the extinction of the human-race. M27Holts #4 Jan 13, 2017 at 9:08 am

      These entities are neither in contradistinction to one another. nor are they military powers. Military powers, due to their possession of nuclear weapons and their belligerence, which are leading candidates to be involved in a war, of the scope and intensity to be called a ‘world war’, are the United States, Russia and China. The election of an unstable individual as American president increases the possibility of a nuclear exchange.

      The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by which these three powers, and most others, have committed themselves to disarmament, shows no signs of leading to that end. Looking at it optimistically, after, you might say, a hundred million dead, the belligerents might each declare victory and begin peace negotiations. The optimistic part is that the Second World War led to the founding of the United Nations and that another episode of death and destruction on that scale would make world peace a more attractive option than it is at present.

    • @ Marco #9
      “…IN PRACTICE, most religious people – whether Muslim or Christian or whatever – don’t actually take the texts literally and do perform all sorts of mental contortions to convince themselves that they are not required to….”

      True to an extent, but this is emphatically NOT the case with Islam’s Salafists. They represent maybe 10% of the muslim population, they have the vast support of Saudi/Qatari money and clerical influence, and from their ranks come the fanatic militant jihadists with whom the world has unfortunately become only too familiar.

    • Rogeroney #12

      Indeed. So that’s where our criticisms and all our efforts to oppose should be directed. Do whatever we can to prevent those people from growing in either number or effectiveness – that’s fine by me. Even better, support voices within the Muslim world who are also doing their utmost to oppose them and prevent more people being sucked into their power.

      But there is no point whatsoever in hostility directed at everyone who self-identifies as Muslim. No point tarring all Muslims with the Salafist brush. And certainly no point in trying to make out that only those who support the jihadists can be “real Muslims”.

      That can only be counterproductive, dangerous and – just as importantly – unjust.

    • Marco #13
      Jan 15, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Indeed. So that’s where our criticisms and all our efforts to oppose should be directed. Do whatever we can to prevent those people from growing in either number or effectiveness – that’s fine by me. Even better, support voices within the Muslim world who are also doing their utmost to oppose them and prevent more people being sucked into their power.

      Cutting off money, trade and arms sales, to Saudi Arabia and other aggressive funders of crusading terrorists spreading the aggressive forms of Sunni Islam, would be a step in the right direction.

      Jumping up and down shouting “Fight the war on terror”, while pouring money into the hands of those funding rebels attacking more moderate regimes, is stupidity: – as is playing silly military “regime-change” games, which start civil wars and generate refugee crises!

    • Alan4discussion #14

      You’re right that it makes no sense to complain about Saudi Arabia’s growing military strength without pointing out that the United States and the UK are the main suppliers of weapons to the country. Americans and Brits who are opposed to Saudi foreign policy should begin by demanding that their governments end their lucrative arms trade with them. The price for that would be a loss of jobs and a hit to exports, as well as leaving the way open for other arms exporters, like Russia and France, to step in and fill the gap.

    • Marco (#13) some very good points, especially about trying to help moderate Muslims or apostates. I get annoyed when I keep hearing cries of “You do not hear many moderates condemning . . . .” Many people do not realise how hard it is to speak out, especially for those living in theocracies.

      My contribution is minimal but I hope it has helped a little, i know others who do similar things. Among my various jobs I used to be TEFL teacher and the language school I worked for in the UK ran business English courses, anything from a week to three months long. We had quite a lot of students from Islamic nations and I was pleasantly surprised at the number that, if not atheist, certainly questioned their religion. I never hid my atheism so it was not unusual for the subject to come up in private conversations.

      A very common worry was the danger faced back home and how difficult it was to communicate with like minded people safely. I am a Linux user and with some students did a bit of extra.curricular teaching, showing them how to use the TAILS Operating System and the TOR browser. I have certainly not started a revolution but at least have helped make it a bit safer for dissenting voices to stay in contact with each other. If we can empower enough people to talk and plan safely perhaps those small numbers will grow enough to make their voice a strong one that can be used openly. I know it is a long long way off but doing something, however small, is better than doing nothing.

    • You describe your contribution as minimal, Stephen (#18), but it sounds extremely constructive to me.

      It’s amazing how the barriers can fall away when we just make a little bit of effort to communicate constructively with the people we think of as being on the other side of them.

      No one is under any obligation to conform to our stereotypes about them. As atheists – and therefore all too often judged by an equally unfair stereotype – we should know that better than anyone.

  • By Kenneth Chang
    NASA will be heading to a metal world.
    The space agency announced on Wednesday that a spacecraft named Psyche would visit an asteroid named Psyche, one of two new missions it will be launching […]

    • “It’s the only roundish, fairly spherical metal body in our solar system. Not only is it unique, it’s improbable.”

      Aha, it’s the Death Star.

      (or if it isn’t, it would make an excellent location for Star Wars: part 27 or whatever they’re up to by the 2030’s)

    • Pounds per cubic foot??? Seriously? In the 21st century? I know dumb Americans can’t do metric but the smart ones can and this is an article about Nasa, albeit by the NYT but at least try and keep science articles a bit sciencey.

    • …the Size of Massachusetts…

      Hey! Let’s leave my state out of this!

      We had nothing to do with it. Nothing whatsoever.

      Typical NYC trying to blame everything on Boston.

      😉

    • Dan #5
      Jan 13, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Another project on the OP link is this asteroid spotting telescope.

      @OP – link – NASA also announced that a third finalist, Neocam, a telescope to search for asteroids that could collide with Earth, would receive another year of funding to address issues that have been raised about that proposal.

      Perhaps such projects should be given more priority!

  • By Harriet Agerholm

    Morocco has banned burqas from being made or sold because of security concerns, the country’s media has reported.

    Although the government did not issue a formal announcement of the […]

    • Excellent news. Presented as a security issue, to thwart bandits, makes so much sense. And targeting sellers, importers, manufacturers first is a good approach.

  • By Emma Graham-Harrison

    Kurdish authorities have shut down a key charity that was supporting women and children from the Yazidi minority who survived Isis sexual slavery.

    The decision to abruptly close Yazda […]

  • By Agence France-Presse in The Hague

    All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said .

    “Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” sai […]

    • Thanks for that Alan, I was thinking much the same thing.

      I suspect what they mean is they are paying for the amount of kilowatts of energy to the wind company that is off-setting it’s production with other forms of energy, so when the wind is not on they use grid power but put there excess into the grid otherwise. I wish they didn’t use this language it leads to climate deniers (rightly) to point out that wind doesn’t go 100% of the time. Would have been different if in the article they had explained that they commissioned sufficient megawatts/year to cover 100% of the electricity used in train travel. And then explain that while at any one point this energy mix may not be entirely wind but that wind replaces the need to generate x megawatts of energy from fossil fuels.

    • Other good news. Google announced today they will reach 100% renewable power some time in 2017.

      What I am hoping for is the economics for clean energy will reach some tipping point and the fossil fuel industry will tank overnight. How I want to see those anti-environmentalists lose their shirts.

    • Alan and Reckless. I think they would have battery banks in the train to charge?
      Without having to carry diesel or a large heavy motor?

    • alf1200 #7
      Jan 13, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Alan and Reckless. I think they would have battery banks in the train to charge?

      I don’t think that would work for the high voltage a/c systems and power required for modern trains.

    • Strikes me as the infrastructure in most countries (certainly small countries like Holland) should have no difficulty putting in overhead lines and could therefore save the weight (of batteries) on the trains. I suspect they are using a bunch of power sources (I don’t know the energy mix in Holland) but have calculated the annual megawatts of power used and have purchased sufficient wind farms to offset that amount of power. Other power sources be it nuclear, coal, solar, hydro or whatever the mix is will be used when wind is low. The other option ultimately is to connect power grids over wider areas (the wind/Sun will always be blowing/shinning somewhere).

      The article is very unclear about how they do this which is a problem I think. I applaud them doing this because every kilowatt of power generated by wind is one less kilowatt generated by coal, so let’s say on one day they are using 60% power generated by wind at that moment and 40% say coal. At other times they are generating the 40% either over their need on a windy day which will mean they will not have to burn as much coal or gas to keep the grid working. So yes they can kinda sorta make the claim that 100% of their power is either directly from wind or offset from other sources. But ultimately those other sources are going to be made entirely of carbon neutral forms of energy.

      It’s fine for a few companies to say offset their carbon by paying for alternative energy elsewhere in the grid but only so many can do this before the alternatives are not being utilized or coal or gas are going to be continued to be used. Climate deniers will point. We need to be extremely direct and honest about where we are at this is great new I just wish the news would be more precise, we need to do more of this while replacing coal as base-load power.

    • Just out of interest Alan, is there an advantage running a train of alternating current over direct? The article you linked to seems to suggest the system is more reliable (I’m unsure why one is more reliable than the other also) and that it obviously makes sense to have the same system throughout Europe (Australia stupidly implemented different gauge tracks in almost every state so we have to stop and change trains between states). Just wondering why the rest of Europe chose AC over DC and don’t know enough electronics to make a judgment. Any ideas?

    • Thanks Alan

  • By Laurie Garrett

    Things are getting down and dirty now. And millions of lives are at stake. I cannot possibly state strongly enough how dangerous it is that President-elect Donald Trump has embraced the notion […]

    • @OP – Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a celebrated vaccine skeptic, met with Trump on Jan. 10. Speaking to reporters outside Trump Tower in Manhattan after the meeting, Kennedy said he will chair a commission “on vaccine safety and scientific integrity” at Trump’s request, because, “we ought to be debating the science.”

      Don’t scientifically illiterate conspiracy theorists love to “debate” and “investigate” settled science: – and with posturing airs of “authority” too!

      “We will examine this scientific research which we are too scientifically illiterate and uneducated to understand, and decide which bits of it we choose to designate correct or wrong! –
      and with no understanding of scientific methodology, we will also decide on the “integrity” of scientific processes in the peer-reviewed papers – checking them for compliance with our amateur pseudo-scientific preconceptions”
      🙂

      If these buffoons were not being given political power, this farcical egotism would be a pure comedy show!
      Classic Dunning-Kruger – Too stupid and ignorant to recognise how stupid and ignorant they are!

    • Would it be paranoid to suspect that the core drivers of the anti-vax lobby have the malicious intention of causing a reduction in the population by disease? After all, we’re overpopulated, and birth-control and abortion are immoral, so what’s to be done about it? (And of course, they’ll make sure their own crowd are fully vaccinated and protected in their gated communities against the coming plagues/pandemics/epidemics – whatever’s the right term).

    • OHooligan The following line would seem to make that unlikely,”Vaccine-refusal rates are highest in American communities of wealth, such as Marin County, California. “.
      There is a danger of being the mirror image of the conspiracy theorists who claim that the CDC and the medical profession are conspiring to deliberately inflict autism of the children.

      Most conspiracy theories fall down because they require the supposed conspirators to have ridiculous levels of planning and effort, coupled with an ability to keep hundreds of people silent about the true agenda when past experiences show that keeping secrets like that is next to impossible.

      In reality people are more than capable of believing bull shit on mass, out of fear and ignorance without the need for shadowy provocators. For confirmation of this I offer the worlds religions and Trumps recent election.

    • O’hooligan, I would have to consider “chemtrails” if I considered a conspiracy to reduce only the USA population.
      And I don’t want to go there.

    • …it seems the congress and senate have other priorities!

      The whole idea behind a government with checks and balances doesn’t work if all three branches are controlled by one party.

      The sucker-punch is the controlling party is a minority put in place as a result of gerrymandering and voter restriction laws (and–admittedly–severe apathy from the electorate).

    • @OP – Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a celebrated vaccine skeptic

      The continued misuse of the term “sceptic” by the media, when discussing scientific or medical issues, gives conspiracy-theory-ignoramuses undeserved respect for their barmy views!

      A scientific sceptic is someone well educated and expert in a subject who is offering a competent opinion on a subject they have studied in depth using reputable research papers or articles or professionally run university courses.

      It does not refer to the fatuous opinions of ignorant conspiracy theorists who have consulted each other on their whimsical notions about subjects the cannot understand or have not studied, and then established a view based on their collective ignorance!

      Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a celebrated vaccine conspiracy theorist! – although I don’t know why anyone would wish to “celebrate” such stupidity!

      I suppose if he is paid to chair an “investigation”, this provides well paid employment for another of Trump’s pseudo-science muppets from US Tax-payers pockets!

    • @Mr_DNA #3

      There is a danger of being the mirror image of the conspiracy theorists who claim that the CDC and the medical profession are conspiring to deliberately inflict autism of the children.

      Exactly. And a benefit, maybe, in talking those conspiracy theorists out of their anti-vax position. They’ve fallen for that other conspiracy, they’ve been duped, and they’ve been set on the path to their own destruction.

      I think this (tongue-in-cheek) line of argument should only be deployed as a last resort, when appeals to reason and evidence and the scientific method have failed. Oh, wait, that’s now, isn’t it?

      (ps I hope none of you thought I actually meant that I believed in such a conspiracy.)

      (and, yes, chemtrails would be a much better way to do it. Pass that info on to our Lizard Overlords, they might want to redeploy resources on this one.)

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