The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently held an event titled: “Structural Racism and Rigorous Models of Social Inequity.” The two-day conference seemed less of a workshop, as was advertised, and more of a struggle session against enemies of “equity.” The main takeaway from this event was that we must implement critical race theory (CRT) into every facet of science. This conclusion was not drawn from inference. Throughout the conference, multiple speakers advocated explicitly for the use of critical race theory. By doing so, however, one must ask: Have the National Academies abandoned the sciences altogether?Read More
We humans are social animals, with society serving as the glue that binds us together. Through our ideals, ethics, and actions, we all have a hand in forming the collective views of society. “Work hard”, “take care of your family”, “don’t commit crime”, are a few basic tenets. But sometimes, often when faced with something novel, society can panic. Rather than try to understand this new trend or thing, frenzied members might view it as a threat and seek to banish it. Sociologists call these moments “moral panics”. More often than not, they’re irrational, with little to no support from scientific evidence. Here are four moral panics not backed by science:
1. Dungeons & Dragons. In the 1980s, spurred by a few attention-grabbing incidents, the media, politicians, and many prominent members of society glommed on to the idea that the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was driving players to psychosis, suicide, and even murder. The fantasy game has players cooperatively imagine themselves as a party of heroes (or villains) in a magical world filled with demons, beasts, and spells.Read More
Perhaps the most risible, widely acclaimed children’s book in the history of children’s books is The Rainbow Fish. This book, featuring a beautiful fish with shiny scales on the cover, made it into home libraries of children everywhere. It tells the story of a fish who is special because his scales are shiny and brightly colored. Every other boring, no-talent, plainly scaled fish envies the lovely and gifted Rainbow Fish and harasses him. The solution? The Rainbow Fish gives away all that made him special in order to earn their friendship and now these little commie crappies each have one scale but remain ugly, envious redistributionists.
The result? Equity. Everyone felt better because no one was great. A bunch of mediocre fishes swim around with pink hair or a nose ring and a big chip on their no-talent shoulders.Read More
After losing in court and receiving a nationwide injunction against the institution of the mask mandate, the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had a decision to make: accept the court’s decision and move on to other means to combat Covid-19 without resorting to mask mandates; try to start from scratch and put a mask mandate rule in place that might conform better with statutory requirements; or appeal the case.Read More
Just a few years ago, concepts such as “white supremacy,” “systemic racism,” and “structural intersectionality” were not the standard fare of prestigious medical journals. These are now the guiding ideas in a February special issue of “Health Affairs” that focuses on medicine and race.
Featuring nearly two dozen articles with titles such as “Racism Runs Through It” and “Sick and Tired of Being Excluded,” as well as a poem called “Identity,” the Washington, D.C.-based, peer-reviewed journal analyzes racial health disparities not through biology, behavior, or culture, but through the lens of “whiteness,” along with concepts such as power, systems of oppression, state-sanctioned violence, and critical race praxis – a sampling of terms that come up in the February issue.
Health Affairs, dubbed by a Washington Post columnist as “the bible of health policy,” represents something much more ambitious than woke virtue signaling. Its February issue reflects the effort of newly empowered “anti-racist” scholars to transform concepts that are still considered speculative and controversial – and some say unprovable – into scientific fact. This growing effort to document, measure, and quantify racism is being advanced by other high-profile publications, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Scientific American, which last year ran articles entitled “Modern Mathematics Confronts Its White, Patriarchal Past” and “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy.”Read More
A team of American and Ecuadorian scientists has discovered two new species of glassfrogs in the Tropical Andes of Ecuador. Glassfrogs are known for their translucent undersides which reveal their insides.
The Tropical Andes are considered the greatest of all biodiversity hotspots. Running along the western coast of South America, the region includes forests, grasslands, and mountainous terrains across altitudes from 1,600 to 16,000 feet! Many of the tens of thousands of plant and animal species that dwell there can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
It was undoubtedly this reputation that attracted the researchers to the area back in 2015, when they initially found the new species of glassfrogs. Juan Guayasamin, a Professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, and his colleagues have spotted the amphibians numerous times since then, but still, they haven’t been easy to find. Hyalinobatrachium mashpi and H. nouns, as Guayasamin has dubbed the frogs, typically occupy lofty vegetation along steep streams and rivers in the high-elevation cloud forests. Both have beautiful yellow and green coloration on their backs with clear spots. Most individuals were found on the undersides of leaves, where females lay their eggs, and where both male and female partners remain to watch over them.Read More
Vision is the primary way that humans sense the world, so what happens when you suddenly strip sight away? In 2004, researchers at Harvard Medical School found out.
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a Professor of Neurology, led a team that blindfolded thirteen healthy young adults for 96 hours straight. During that time, as part of a broader study, participants were taught braille for four hours a day, engaged in tactile stimulation activities like puzzles and clay modeling, took daily brain scans, and otherwise lived their lives – they got dressed, they ate, they walked around, and they went to the gym, all in total, numbing darkness.
“A specially designed blindfold was worn that prevented all light perception,” the researchers described. “It was held in place by a Velcro strap and further secured by Ace bandages. The blindfold permitted full motion of the eyes as well as opening and closing of eyelids. Potential tampering with the blindfold by the subjects was controlled with the use of a piece of photographic paper attached to the inside of the blindfold.”Read More
The night sky, in all its astral beauty, has ever been a source of wonder for the human race. But over a century ago, some astronomers looked up and saw a paradox.
Why, they wondered, if the Universe is infinite, with an infinite number of stars, is the night sky not white? Every direction we look, there should be a star whose light has traveled all the way to Earth. So the night sky should be a sea of sunlight!
This conundrum is commonly called Olbers’ paradox, named after the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers, who wrote about it in the early 1800s, though he was not the first, nor the only, thinker to ponder it.Read More
President Joe Biden’s latest nominee to the Fed has faced criticism for embellishing her resume, but recently some economists have raised the possibility that her most famous research contains fatal flaws.
Lisa Cook, a professor of international relations and economics at Michigan State University, was nominated to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on Jan 14. Three weeks later, on Feb. 5, an anonymous Twitter account pointed out a mistake in Cook’s 2014 paper, “Violence and economic activity: evidence from African-American patents, 1870-1940.”
The anonymous tweet sparked a flurry of blog posts criticizing Cook’s paper. Andrew Gelman, a statistics professor at Columbia University, compared Cook’s dataset with a more recent dataset from the Brookings Institution and said the results did not match. “Hey—this is a lot different!” wrote Gelman.Read More
Perched about 325 feet (100 meters) up the slopes of the Prealps in southern France, a humble rock shelter looks out over the Rhône River Valley. It’s a strategic point on the landscape, as here the Rhône flows through a narrows between two mountain ranges. For millennia, inhabitants of the rock shelter would have had commanding views of herds of animals migrating between the Mediterranean region and the plains of northern Europe, today replaced by TGV trains and up to 180,000 vehicles per day on one of the busiest highways on the continent.
The site, recognized in the 1960s and named Grotte Mandrin after French folk hero Louis Mandrin, has been a valued location for over 100,000 years. The stone artifacts and animal bones left behind by ancient hunter-gatherers from the Paleolithic period were quickly covered by the glacial dust that blew from the north on the famous mistral winds, keeping the remains well preserved.
Since 1990, our research team has been carefully investigating the uppermost 10 feet (3 meters) of sediment on the cave floor. Based on artifacts and tooth fossils, we believe that Mandrin rewrites the consensus story about when modern humans first made their way to Europe.Read More
As the mid-term elections approach, a number of Democrat governors are now following in the steps of Republican Governors Ron DeSantis (FL) and Glenn Youngkin (VA) in support of dropping mask mandates.
Supported by their political and media allies, the governors of states, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, California, and Oregon are now announcing mask mandates in schools may be dropped soon, as the New York Times reported Tuesday.Read More
Toothbrushing is a mindless activity that most of us have on autopilot, but in infinitesimally rare circumstances, it can result in a medical emergency.
Late last week, Drs. Gary G. Ghahremani and Katherine M. Richman, both radiologists at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center, published a paper in the journal Emergency Radiology detailing eight different accounts of adults ingesting toothbrushes. These cases join about fifty others previously reported in the medical literature.
All of the instances Ghahremani and Richman describe occurred at the UC-San Diego Medical Center between 2002 and 2015. Five of the patients, all of them with psychological disorders, intentionally swallowed toothbrushes, while the other three patients accidentally did so. In two of the accidental instances, the toothbrush’s head snapped off as a result of overly vigorous brushing.Read More
Science communicators once again had their hands full in 2021. Between two and three million research articles were published this year, announcing discoveries from the microscopic to the cosmic and from the (relatively) mundane to the controversial. The gigantic elephant in the room – COVID-19 – also continued to hang around, killing millions while dishonest actors manufactured misinformation galore.
Separating science from pseudoscience, hype from reality, and truth from fiction, all while reporting honestly and coherently, can be a struggle. But each year, writers at a range of websites prove they are up to the task. At RealClearScience, we honor them in our annual listing of the top websites for science.
ScienceNews has provided dependable science journalism since 1921.Read More
The scientific method used to govern much of popular American thinking.
In empirical fashion scientists advised us to examine evidence and data, and then by induction come to rational hypotheses. The enemies of “science” were politics, superstition, bias, and deduction.Read More
Questions set the scientific method in motion. Without that initial curiosity, that “I wonder…”, that “What if…”, we would not have the technology, the medicine, nor the knowledge that we have today.
But not all questions have readily attainable answers. Despite our formidable advances in probing reality over the years, there are some things we are still incapable of concretely knowing. One day, that could change, but for these topics it’s currently hard to fathom how. Here are four questions that humans may never know the answers to:
Do You See Red Like I See Red?Read More
Every member of America’s expert class possessing even a modicum of integrity and self-awareness has long been aware of a simple truth: Only a fool would trust the emanations of America’s leading experts.
Worse, the more prestigious the job title, the less trustworthy the pronouncement. Official experts who speak for the government are the most suspect of all. Worse still, you can’t write off anything they say because a great deal of it is informed and valid.Read More
Deborah Ball, a mathematics professor at the University of Michigan, argued in a podcast that the discipline inflicts racism against Black and Latino students.
On Jul 21, Ball appeared on an episode of the Ed Fix Podcast titled “Fighting Racism with Mathematics” to make her case.Read More
The Pacific Northwest was hit with a record-shattering heat wave in June, with temperatures over 35 degrees higher than normal in some places. On June 28, Portland, Ore., reached 116 degrees. Late last week the region suffered another blast of hot weather, with a high in Portland of 103 degrees. The New York Times didn’t hesitate to pronounce the region’s bouts of extreme weather proof that the climate wasn’t just changing, but catastrophically so.
To make that claim, the Times relied on a “consortium of climate experts” that calls itself World Weather Attribution, a group organized not just to attribute extreme weather events to climate change, but to do so quickly. Within days of the June heat wave, the researchers released an analysis, declaring that the torrid spell “was virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.”
World Weather Attribution and its alarming report were trumpeted by Time magazine, touted by the NOAA website Climate.gov , and featured by CBS News, CNBC, Scientific American, CNN, the Washington Post, USAToday, and the New York Times, among others.Read More
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all schools require mask-wearing indoors by teachers and students, vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19.
And many school districts are adopting that requirement, to the dismay of many parents.Read More