Making Up Facts to Fit a Narrative

first_imgTo be a good evolutionary scientist, write your narrative first. Then observe things. Finally, make up a model that fits the narrative.Many students are taught to believe that scientists draw their conclusions from observations of facts. That’s so old-fashioned. Facts are just incidental to the real fun in science: telling a good story with imaginary facts. The story is more exciting if observations create a crisis, so that the scientist can invent a model to rescue the main plot. We offer three recent examples.Imaginary planet factory:  Narrative: planets form from the bottom up, through a process of accretion of dust. Observation: radio waves were observed in a dust disk around a T-tauri star, inferred to come from objects 2cm or larger. Model: “Astronomers See Pebbles Poised to Make Planets” (Royal Astronomical Society).  (Are other interpretations possible?  Certainly. Assuming the objects are pebble-sized, they could be debris from collisions, but that’s not as sexy a story.)The precocious monkey:  Narrative: monkeys evolved into man, and one sign of it was increasing brain size.  Observation: An old-world monkey fossil had a skull capacity the size of a plum.  Tweak: With a little modeling from a CT scan of the skull, scientists at Duke University could guess at “what the animal’s brain likely looked like” including how many imaginary folds the small brain likely had. Auxiliary hypothesis: the more folds, the smarter the monkey. Model: “Old World Monkey Had Tiny, Complex Brain; Findings offer new clues to how primate brains changed over time.” Visualization: video clip showing 3-D model of folded brain rotating.Whoops; there’s a problem: didn’t Darwin expect brains to get bigger before they got smarter? Bring in the rescue device:“In the part of the primate family tree that includes apes and humans, the thinking is that brains got bigger and then they get more folded and complex,” Gonzales said. “But this study is some of the hardest proof that in monkeys, the order of events was reversed — complexity came first and bigger brains came later.”The findings also lend support to claims that the small brain of the human ancestor* Homo floresiensis, whose 18,000-year-old skull was discovered on a remote Indonesian island in 2003, isn’t as remarkable as it might seem. In spite of their pint-sized brains, Homo floresiensis were able to make fire and use stone tools to kill and butcher large animals.“Brain size and brain complexity can evolve independently; they don’t have to evolve together at the same time,” Benefit said.How Enceladus stayed old:  Narrative: Enceladus formed 4.5 billion years ago (see A.S.S.) as a satellite of Saturn. Observation: geysers at the south pole give off several gigawatts of heat. Crisis: that kind of energy output cannot go on for 4.5 billion years:The source of this energy is believed to be tidal dissipation. However, the observed south polar heat flux cannot be sustained over the age of the Solar System. Furthermore, thermal evolution models suggest that any global subsurface ocean should freeze on a timescale of tens to hundreds of My, sharply reducing future tidal heating, unless large amounts of antifreeze are present in the ocean.Rescue device: James H. Roberts invents a model that won’t give ammo to young-earth creationists:Here I propose an alternative internal structure for Enceladus, in which the silicate core is fragmented, and that the tidal deformation of the core may be partially controlled by interstitial ice. I find that fragmentation of the core increases tidal dissipation by a factor of 20, consistent with the long-term dynamically sustainable level, even when the interior is completely frozen, but only if the interior starts out warm and tidal heating is strong from the beginning. If this is not the case, radioactive heating will be insufficient to prevent the interior from cooling. Although an ocean need not be present in order for the interior to experience significant tidal heating, all models that dissipate enough heat to prevent runaway cooling are also warm enough to have an ocean. Tidal dissipation in the weak core provides an additional source of heat that may prevent a global subsurface ocean from freezing.Resulting model: “The fluffy core of Enceladus” (Icarus). We can’t see the fluff, but it must be there, or else the A.S.S. gets kicked.This is the 21st century way of doing science. Modern audiences love stories. Scientists cannot thrive on epistemic modesty alone; they need to get with the theater generation to make science trendy. The only rule with today’s science theater is never to question the meta-narrative (scientific materialism). That requires never giving aid and comfort to those who question the meta-narrative. The penalty for that is expulsion from the scientific community.___________*”Hobbit man” is not considered a human ancestor by most paleoanthropologists, but a side branch of Homo erectus perhaps (but it seems too recent to fit that narrative).  As for brain size and intelligence, see the 6/26/15 entry.“Science is truth; do not be misled by facts” (Finagle’s Creed).  If you were to look at the observations in each of these articles alone, they would be so narrow as to be boring. It’s essential for the mandarins of science to maintain the illusion that the men behind the curtain have special powers of divination. They can see beyond the empirical evidence into the mystical realms of possibility.The meta-narrative (big bang to man) is Accepted Truth that must never be questioned. And yet anomalies crop up. The job of the scientist is to creatively fit any troublesome observation into a “model” that not only preserves the meta-narrative, but brings glory to the mandarins. This enables the mandarins to finance the outrage industry (a.k.a. Darwin Lobby) against doubters.What? You thought science was about following the evidence where it leads with an open mind? Get over it. (6/25/14) (Visited 180 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Brand South Africa: JCI Conference

first_imgThe annual Junior Chamber International (JCI) Conference begins on 4 May at the Sandton Convention Centre. More than just a conference for business minded entrepreneurs, workshops during the event will feature a strong social and community building slant.Junior Chamber International (JCI) members are encouraged to use their business knowledge and experience to become grassroots activists in their own communities. The international non-profit comprises engaged and active citizens committed to improving the globe.Community action to make a better world is one of the principles that drives Brand South Africa as an organisation. For this reason we are proud to be co-sponsors of the event.The African region conference will give young South Africans the opportunity to network with global entrepreneurs and social leaders. Members will spend four days discussing international and regional challenges and sharing experiences that can create positive change across African communities.In October 2015 JCI celebrated its centenary. Branches across the globe celebrated by advocating for more active citizenship. As JCI Ambassador and UN Global Compact Senior Advisor Fred Dubee told a gathering in Finland, “Let us base what we do today and tomorrow on the robust platform that has been erected with so much care and commitment over the past 100 years and as we do, let us be conscious that what we do now will have an impact that will shape the next 100 brilliant and valuable years of JCI.”The organisation’s members believe by being socially active we can create sustainable positive change. Individuals have as much of a responsibility as governments and business to create a more equitable and caring world.Members are guided by five distinct principles:• Educate yourself. By understanding the root causes of communal issues JCI members can prove themselves to be vital in helping make change happen.• Spread awareness: JCI members are encouraged to begin a conversation in their community around challenges. Whether they choose to do that face to face, digitally or through encouraging community participation, members are urged to lead social activism.• Support grassroots efforts: Volunteer or become involved with organisations and campaigns that are working for positive change. If challenges are not being addressed, start a conversation or an organisation. Reach out across communal and national borders to look for solutions or to offer help.• Advocate: All challenges have a face and solutions need to be based on protecting the dignity of people. JCI members are guided by the idea that welcoming people matters more than focusing on what makes us different.• Support approaches that promise long term solutions: Find ways to build vibrant and integrated communities instead of allowing insularity. Host opportunities where people can learn about each other.last_img read more

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Kansas once more favored to win 15th straight Big 12 title

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo speaks out on racism after chants aimed at Kalidou Koulibaly TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening This was not supposed to be one of those years.Yes, the Jayhawks lost their entire backcourt of Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman to the NBA. And yes, rival Kansas State returned almost its entire roster from a team that went to the Elite Eight last year, giving the Wildcats a real feeling of confidence heading into the season.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefBut the Jayhawks merely restocked with a bevy of high-profile transfers and five-star recruits, and the result was a No. 1 ranking that they held through much of the nonconference slate. It wasn’t until this past weekend against Arizona State that they lost their first game — without injured big man Udoka Azubuike — that they dropped further than second in the AP poll.Now, the fourth-ranked Jayhawks (10-1) have a final tuneup Saturday against Eastern Michigan before setting their sights on an unprecedented 15th consecutive conference championship. SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue Arizona State guard Rob Edwards, left, knocks the ball away from Kansas guard Quentin Grimes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)LAWRENCE, Kan. — There have been plenty of times over the past 14 years that Kansas was supposed to have a tough test in the Big 12, only for the Jayhawks to emerge on top when March rolled around.The year Texas had Kevin Durant, or Oklahoma boasted Buddy Hield. The years that Jayhawks coach Bill Self had to replace all five of his starters, or that some other up-and-coming program was stocked with the kind of talent that Kansas seems to get every season.ADVERTISEMENT View comments LATEST STORIES SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion “The reality of it is we weren’t going to run the table,” Self said. “Let’s not get carried away, and I hate saying this — you never want to lose — but certainly you’d rather learn from a nonconference loss than a conference loss, so hopefully we get something from (the loss to Arizona State). I think it’s a teaching moment.”Meanwhile, the Jayhawks might have much more competition in the Big 12 than previously thought.The Wildcats (9-2) are coming off an impressive win over Vanderbilt despite losing preseason player of the year Dean Wade to a foot injury. No. 11 Texas Tech (11-1) leads the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and just gave Duke all it could handle. Iowa State (10-2) got Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young back from injuries last week and has shown plenty in their absence.“We’ve got good players,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “If you think about it, Dean was the only underclassman on the first team All-Big 12 last year, and Barry (Brown) was second team. So two underclassmen in an unbelievable league, probably the toughest league I’ve been a part of.“To me,” Weber said, “I don’t think we’ve gotten as much recognition as we should. But I don’t think they care. They’re just driven to be good players and that’s important for me.”ADVERTISEMENT Private companies step in to help SEA Games hostingcenter_img LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next They’re also driven to knock the Jayhawks from their lofty perch in the Big 12.As the league prepares to open its double-round-robin slate next week, here are some story lines:RED RAIDERS RISING: Chris Beard’s team was supposed to take a step back after losing All-Big 12 guard Keenan Evans and freshman standout Zhaire Smith to the pros. But sophomore Jarrett Culver has been playing like an All-American and the Red Raiders have shut down just about everyone they’ve played, even causing the Blue Devils problems in their game at Madison Square Garden.HEALTHY CYCLONES: Iowa State’s only losses have come to Arizona and Iowa, and neither of those is particularly damaging. Marial Shayok has flourished, averaging more than 20 points, and now he’s got a couple of running mates to take off some of the scoring pressure. Wigginton is back from his foot issue and Solomon from a groin injury that sidelined both the first two months of the season.TOUGH TCU: It didn’t take long for Jamie Dixon to turn around TCU, and now the Horned Frogs (11-1) think they can compete for a Big 12 title. They had an early slip-up against Lipscomb but breezed past the rest of their nonconference schedule, winning the Diamond Head Classic earlier this week.SOONERS OR LATER: Lon Kruger has had plenty of teams capable of giving Kansas a run for Big 12 superiority, but this one is putting together a sneak attack. Christian James and No. 25 Oklahoma (11-1) have quietly had one of the better nonconference runs, their only loss coming against Wisconsin.BUMPY COUNTRY ROADS: West Virginia (7-4) returned plenty of talent from last season, including Esa Ahmad and Sagabe Konate. But little has gone right for the Mountaineers, beginning with an early loss to Buffalo and defeats to Western Kentucky, Florida and Rhode Island. MOST READ BREAKING: Corrections officer shot dead in front of Bilibid For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krausslast_img read more

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