The inconvenient truth

“Allow me for one to say that I am sick of the ‘Christians are anti-science’ bullshit that the left loves to harp on while giving the environmental movement a free pass. You will notice, if you are honest, that the areas where even the most fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible conflict with modern scientific work are in areas that Christians have an ethical objection to the way that life is manipulated or ended or in how things came to be on some level. The environmental movement on the other hand is generally wildly antagonistic to everything from GM foods to many promising alternative energy sources to nanotechnology.” Slashdot comment by MikeRT

So fresh and so clean

“In fact, what little clinical evidence there is suggests that dirty soap isn’t so bad. A study from 1965 and another from 1988 used similar methodologies: Researchers coated bars of soap in the lab with E. coli and other nasty bacteria, and then gave them to test subjects for a vigorous hand-wash. Both teams found no transfer of contamination from the dirty soap. However, both studies were tainted by potential conflicts of interest: The first was conducted by Procter & Gamble, and the second came from the Dial Corp. Still, there’s no good evidence to contradict these studies, and it’s likely that the bacteria on a dirty bar would just wash off when you rinsed your hands. In other words, you’d be cleaning the soap as you cleaned your hands.” Daniel Engber, Slate Magazine

Bad science and bad religion

“The problem with studying religion scientifically is that you do violence to the phenomenon by reducing it to basic elements that can be quantified, and that makes for bad science and bad religion.”
Dr. Richard Sloan, professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University

The gay animal kingdom

“Male big horn sheep live in what are often called ‘homosexual societies.’ They bond through genital licking and anal intercourse, which often ends in ejaculation. If a male sheep chooses to not have gay sex, it becomes a social outcast. Ironically, scientists call such straight-laced males ‘effeminate.’ Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees… As this list of activities suggests, having homosexual sex is the biological equivalent of apple pie: Everybody likes it.” Jonah Lehrer on Stanford University biology professor Joan Roughgarden’s controversial book, Evolution’s Rainbow

Information junkies

“Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix. The ‘click’ of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances… The brain’s craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge.” Edward Vessel, on a recent study by the University of Southern California

Perfection

“Plato suggested that everything in our world is just an approximation of perfection. He also realized that we understand the concept of perfection even though we never encountered it. He came to conclusion that perfect mathematical forms must live in another world and that we somehow know about them by having a connection to that “alternative” universe.” Functional Programming For The Rest of Us

Epsicles

“Frank Epperson… mixed himself a drink of soda water powder and water - a popular drink back in 1905. For some reason he never got round to drinking it and left it on the back porch overnight with the stirring stick still in it. Of course, when the temperature dropped overnight, the mixture froze and Frank had a stick of frozen soda water to show his friends at school. Eighteen years later, Frank remembered the incident and started producing what he called ‘Epsicles’ in seven fruit flavors. The name never took off, but today over three million ‘Popsicles’ are sold every year.” Top Ten Accidental Discoveries, EXN.ca

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5-Second Rule

“Researchers at the University of Illinois say the so-called ‘5-Second Rule’ isn’t a myth. They say when you drop food on the floor, it’s still safe to eat if you pick it up within five seconds… By the way, if you try getting rid of germs on your food by blowing on it or dusting it off, you’re wasting your time. It doesn’t work.” WAFF 48 News

Global warming… it’s the Sun that’s to blame

“Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth. I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world’s politicians and policy-makers are not. Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock.” Conservationist David Bellamy

Blink?

“The Nobel laureate, Francis Crick, is well known for his discoveries about the double helix of our genes, but he later worked in the field of neuroscience. He and his colleagues postulated that humans needed to develop what he termed ‘zombie thinking’ in order to deal efficiently with the massive sensory input we continuously receive about the external world. This mode of thinking is thus necessary to allow us to react rapidly to external events, so that these cognitive illusions are ‘built in’ to us, almost certainly for evolutionary reasons. None of us is immune to them, not even those trained as scientists or judges. Our capacity for rational thinking is limited. Propagandists and advertisers are all too well aware of this.” Neurologist Simon Gandevia