Science

Various articles on science

Principles of Scientific Rational Thinking

Principles of scientific rational thinking:

Question Authority

No idea is true just because some authority says it is true. That includes you, and includes me.

Think for Yourself and Question Yourself

Don't believe something just because you want it to be true. Belief alone is not a criterion for truth.

Test ideas by evidence from observation and experiments

If a favorite idea fails a well designed test, it is not true. Get over it.

Follow the evidence wherever it leads

If something is proven wrong, then just accept that it is wrong.

And, if you have no evidence, just reserve judgement. You don't have to take a position for or against an idea.

You could be wrong

We are humans, and we may not have all the facts, so we are sometimes wrong. Accept that, and move to more observation and experimentation.

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Swine Flu, social networks and media spreading misinformation

Two recent articles from Al-Jazeera show the misinformation that is widespread about Swine Flu.

The first was an article lamenting how some Arab countries has imported pork meat, including Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE. The article implies a connection between consuming pork, and catching swine flu. An avalanche of equally uninformed comments from visitors as response to the article. Many of the comments are focusing on the Islamic ban on consuming pork.

The other article is about Egypt's parliament considering discontinuing pig farms, with the approval of the Coptic Orthodox Church. At issue are the jobs affected by that, including the garbage collectors and recyclers providing feed for the pigs.

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Crowds, violence and the bystander effect

The Economist has a fascinating article on research by Dr Mark Levine of Lancaster University in the UK.

He analyzes footage from the now famous/notorious CCTV cameras in Britain, and finds that crowds can have an effect on escalating into violence or diffusing it depending on how the first few bystanders respond to the aggressor.

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It is not a wasp, it is a hoverfly mimicing a wasp

An article about a Manitoba man who died after being attacked by a swarm made it to the CBC today.

The image attached to the article was not that of a wasp though, but rather, a hoverfly. These are dipteras, meaning "two wings", as all other true flies. Also the bulging eyes and very short antennae are very characteristic of all flies.

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Exposure to incense causes cancer

For the longest of time, I have had this aversion to incense. It is occasionally used in the Middle East, in homes, mosques, wedding halls, guest reception areas in homes, and the like. My chest and my tummy do not like the smell of incense, and the smoke it produces.

I have long thought of incense as being identical to second hand tobacco smoke, minus the foul smell.

Now a study published in the journal: Cancer, confirms that incense is indeed a cause for cancer, after prolonged exposure. 

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Northwest passage now open: shipping boon and global warming evidence?

Sea ice in the Arctic has sunk to its lowest level since satellite record-keeping began, fully opening the most direct route through the Northwest Passage, the European Space Agency said Friday.

The much-coveted shortcut connecting Asia to Europe through the Canadian Arctic has been historically impassable.

This could save around 5,000 kms per trip from Europe to Asia, as opposed to the Panama Canal route. This also adds to the growing evidence of global warming.

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