Archives for the month of: November, 2013

I usually just reblog from Anthony’s site, but this one seemed to need a bit more. So, for my friends with concerns regarding GMO and all things modern with respect to food, here is an article where a poor study was published, then retracted, by a science journal.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/28/science-self-corrects-bogus-study-claiming-roundup-tolerant-gmo-corn-causes-cancer-to-be-retracted/

Each of Anthony’s articles is read by thousands (or more) and each garners lots of comments, some from quite knowledgeable people. Sadly, it is not possible, nor polite, to weed through and keep only the good comments. Zeke’s comments are among the best on this topic.

WUWT posts the story pointing out how good science self-corrects. The point of the post is to contrast to climate science articles that get discredited thoroughly, yet they stay published, without retraction. Food and medicine research tend to self correct more than much of science, but there seems to be lots of latitude and variability along the way. Mistakes in food and medicine show up so fast that it cannot help but self-correct. There is also plenty of expertise in these fields, and high-profile. Sadly, these fields are still prone to politicization. It is sad when a disease or an advance in food science becomes politicized because of the delays for good and the protection of the bad. Lots of harm. Politics and science should try hard to stay far apart.

So, my summary of the situation with the GMO food, the peer review process raised lots of questions, but the authors answered. The journal published. (That is how they make their money, after all.) Then there were lots of questions and accusations from the readership. The journal got directly involved, reviewed hard themselves, and realized the reviewers shouldn’t have given up. While the authors still hold to their findings and conclusions, even they admit the results are shaky. Overall, it would appear the study really shows no cause for concern.

An obvious side effect of the publication of results that are at best questionable and inconclusive is that the fear-mongers latched on to it and publicized and raised the alarm bells, heedless of any rather obvious problems in the study.

For me, the subject of GMO is moot and meaningless. Humans have genetically modified everything they could figure out how to, in every way they could figure, for as far back in history as we can discern. For bible scholars, I’ll ask, what do you think Jacob was managing with the cattle betwixt himself and Laban?

We first figured out how to select the varieties that suited us best and promote procreation among those. Our skills improved over the generations. We eventually figured out the science behind it. Then we figured out the genome. At each step we have figured out better, or at least faster, ways to genetically modify organisms, especially those we eat.

It is easy to fear. It is best to simply keep your eyes open and stay alert to new dangers. Making up fears and dangers before they exist is a sure way to live a miserable, low-productivity life.

 

Quote of the WeekOur freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained. Richard Feynman, Value of Science

Mostly as a note to myself to try to figure out what might be an appropriate level, The Heritage Foundation provides a chart showing how many people are employed by the states in their departments of education per million residents. Ms.  writes it up here: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/24/department-education-mandates-force-bureaucratic-compliance-onto-states/.

She writes:

“Federal laws and regulations such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) levy a mighty bureaucratic compliance burden on state departments of education.

A recent report conducted by The Heritage Foundation finds that state departments of education on average have 142 employees per million state residents.”

I note that Oklahoma is well above average at 226 per million, and Texas seems to be on to something. Texas is first (or last, if you wish) with an admirably efficient 30 per million.

 

I noted  of the Heritage Foundation in my last post. Ms. Corona appears to have many useful articles. At the link for her byline I find this noteworthy article as well. http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/07/letter-to-catholic-bishops-catholic-schools-should-reject-the-common-core/ These Catholics see Common Core as a threat to all the church stands for, especially in education.

I agree with these Catholic Professors. Quoting from the article:

“We write to you because of what the particular deficiencies of Common Core reveal about the philosophy and the basic aims of the reform. We write to you because we think that this philosophy and these aims will undermine Catholic education and dramatically diminish our children’s horizons.… Common Core was approved too hastily and with inadequate consideration of how it would change the character and curriculum of our nation’s Catholic schools. We believe that implementing Common Core would be a grave disservice to Catholic education in America.

The Common Core national standards’ mission is to impose one set of standards to define what every public school student will learn. The Catholic Church’s mission in education is to provide an excellent education while orienting students to the values engrained in Catholic teachings. The one-size-fits-all approach embodied in Common Core rejects the premise that individuals have different goals of education.

Common Core is a centralizing force over the content taught in public schools throughout the country. But its influence on private schools and homeschoolers—as a result of textbook spillover, some state regulations, and alignment of college entrance exams—is already being felt.

But for Catholic schools to willingly hand over their curricula and educational authority to the administrative state is terribly misled. Catholic education necessitates that educational decision-making stay within the Church and at the smallest levels of civil engagement: parents, teachers, schools, and churches. And it has flourished from this principle of subsidiarity.”

Common Core is NOT OK!

Here is a short article from the Heritage Foundation, http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/22/cracks-core-massachusetts-halts-common-core-implementation/, byline .

It points out that Massachusetts is having second thoughts about Common Core as currently constituted. This is very significant, given that Massachusetts is supposed to be the model on which Common Core is based. It would seem not.

From the article, and I find the second paragraph quite telling:

“Former Governor Bill Weld signed the Education Reform Act in 1993. At its 10th anniversary, 90 percent of Massachusetts students passed their MCAS exams. SAT scores in the state rose for 13 consecutive years following the passage, and according to the National Assessment for Educational Progress report, Massachusetts students have led the nation in overall achievement for nearly every grade level.

While achievement gains in Massachusetts have leveled off in recent years, the Bay State continues to lead the nation in math and reading proficiency. Massachusetts’s fourth- and eighth-grade students exceed the national average of students reaching proficiency by nearly 10 percentage points for both reading and mathematics.”

Common Core is NOT OK!

 

While reading an American Thinker article, http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/11/the_presidential_degradation_of_the_medal_of_freedom.html, Ms. DeAngelis quotes Matthew Henry regarding how bad our society must be when acknowledged sinners are renown.

I decided to look it up, and I’m quoting here the entire comment on the first seven verses of Genesis chapter 6 (the beginning of the story of Noah):

“The most remarkable thing concerning the old world, is the destroying of it by the deluge, or flood. We are told of the abounding iniquity of that wicked world: God’s just wrath, and his holy resolution to punish it. In all ages there has been a peculiar curse of God upon marriages between professors of true religion and its avowed enemies. The evil example of the ungodly party corrupts or greatly hurts the other. Family religion is put an end to, and the children are trained up according to the worldly maxims of that parent who is without the fear of God. If we profess to be the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, we must not marry without his consent. He will never give his blessing, if we prefer beauty, wit, wealth, or worldly honours, to faith and holiness. The Spirit of God strove with men, by sending Enoch, Noah, and perhaps others, to preach to them; by waiting to be gracious, notwithstanding their rebellions; and by exciting alarm and convictions in their consciences. But the Lord declared that his Spirit should not thus strive with men always; he would leave them to be hardened in sin, and ripened for destruction. This he determined on, because man was flesh: not only frail and feeble, but carnal and depraved; having misused the noble powers of his soul to gratify his corrupt inclinations. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be hid from him now; and if it be not repented of, it shall be made known by him shortly. The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when noted sinners are men renowned among them. Very much sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great: but God saw that every imagination, or purpose, of the thoughts of man’s heart, was only evil continually. This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring. The heart was deceitful and desperately wicked; the principles were corrupt; the habits and dispositions evil. Their designs and devices were wicked. They did evil deliberately, contriving how to do mischief. There was no good among them. God saw man’s wickedness as one injured and wronged by it. He saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which grieves him, and makes him wish he had been childless. The words here used are remarkable; they are used after the manner of men, and do not mean that God can change, or be unhappy. Does God thus hate our sin? And shall not we be grieved to the heart for it? Oh that we may look on Him whom we have grieved, and mourn! God repented that he had made man; but we never find him repent that he redeemed man. God resolves to destroy man: the original word is very striking, ‘I will wipe off man from the earth,’ as dirt or filth is wiped off from a place which should be clean, and is thrown to the dunghill, the proper place for it. God speaks of man as his own creature, when he resolves upon his punishment. Those forfeit their lives who do not answer the end of their living. God speaks of resolution concerning men, after his Spirit had been long striving with them in vain. None are punished by the justice of God, but those who hate to be reformed by the grace of God.”

My wife and I discuss a lot while driving. Several years ago, probably before our first child, we were discussing Noah, and she was becoming agitated over the details, science, and facts I was interjecting. Things like how impossible so much of it was, and how one should not claim science in trying to explain an overt miracle.

Calmly, but with significant exasperation, she looked at me and asked, “What then am I supposed to teach the children?”

Keep in mind, she has taught young children bible stories since her early teens. I fell for her watching her teach a group of toddlers in the Sunday school. I replied by asking, “What do you teach them?”

She confidently, but brusquely replied, “I teach them God loved Noah, God warned Noah, Noah obeyed God, and God saved the world through Noah because of his obedience.”

That made it so simple. I replied, “Isn’t that the point? What else would you teach them?”

With that, she realized none of the science mattered to the truth in the story. She resolved to avoid the contentions in her teaching and in the curriculum she developed over the years. It is possible to stay true to the truths of our faith while staying honest and committed to the true facts. (Besides, toddlers never questions about where all the water came from or how a wooden boot could be so big, or how floor-space amounting to twice that enclosed by a typical track-and-field lot could hold all the critters in the world and food for a year.)

Speaking of my wife, there is a Matthew Henry quote that I must have heard first near 7 years of age, and have heard many times since. It is referring to the traditional translation of Genesis 2:22, “the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

The sentiment has been expressed by others, presumably independently. I certainly see it as the point of the verse.

 

The article below caught my eye, but while I was thinking of the title, I remembered the two Adam Again reference of my past. An album by the great Michael Omartian, but of course also the group fronted by the late Gene Eugene. Gene worked Swirling Eddies and Lost Dogs with Terry Scott Taylor, who is absolutely one of the greatest musicians of all time.

The Economist printed this article, http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21590475-furiousand-politicaldebate-about-origins-mankind-all-about-adam, under the by line “Lexington.”

The article is worth reading. I highly recommend it for any fundamentalist or evangelical.

A couple of quotes:

“After they hit 18, half of evangelical youngsters lose their faith; entering a public university is especially perilous. As a generation, millennials (those born between the early 1980s and 2000s), are unimpressed by organised anything, let alone organised religion. Many young adults told the Barna Group, an evangelical research outfit, that they felt stifled by elders who demonised secular America.”

“The seeming paradox of a strong faith in crisis is explained by rigidity: that which cannot bend may break instead. The danger is keenly felt in conservative Christian circles, where a debate has broken out over the long-term outlook for the movement.”

“A trickier controversy has been triggered by findings from the genome that modern humans, in their genetic diversity, cannot be descended from a single pair of individuals. Rather, there were at least several thousand “first humans”. That challenges the historical existence of Adam and Eve, and has sparked a crisis of conscience among evangelical Christians persuaded by genetic science.”

Lexington closes with a snide comment about denying science. I don’t approve.

Commit to truth. Hold fast to the truth. Don’t deceive yourself into supposing you cannot be proven wrong.

I accept our first parents by faith. I make sure I don’t read into the first two chapters of Genesis, and I figure that the day before “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” there was no visible, testable difference. That is, it seems scriptural and consistent with daily experience to suppose that natural processes were how God formed man of dust, and at some point, God did a miracle that made man godlike. (That’s from the first chapter.) I see that miracle as being spiritual, not natural.

So, was Adam historical? I think so. I don’t think I really understand it. I certainly will not try to build a model of how it all worked out, considering natural and spiritual factors. It would be untestable at best. I understand it well enough to believe God is good. I’ll leave it at that.

It’s no secret that I find young-earth scenarios to be anathema. I also find political thinking with regard to archaeology and ancient remains reprehensible, religious thinking as well.   Read the rest of this entry »

BioLogos presents some comments from  Ryan Mullins on time and eternity.

For part one of his comments, I shared on my facebook page and said, “Apparently I have a relational view of time, and I’m a presentist.”

In part two, Mr. Mullins delves much more deeply, in a rather superficial way.

http://biologos.org/blog/questions-on-time-and-eternity-part-2

The superficial part is because he keeps it short. (So click and read. I’ll wait.)

I like to say that your god is too small. Mine is too.

I try to let God be bigger than anything, especially my own limitations and misconceptions. I suspect I will retain the view that God is timeless and immutable. Time cannot be quite what we think it is.

Physics and mathematics have recently suggested time and locality are emergent characteristics of reality, and that the universe is something we hardly understand at all yet. If I may be allowed the point that God created this universe, then I suspect God is infinitely more complicated and deeper in reality than the universe, no matter how deep and complex the universe ultimately is.

It seems that trying to define the divine and eternity requires defining both, and that pretty much sets limits on something defined as limitless. (Complicated, isn’t it.) Kind of like wondering what happened before the creation, before the universe, before time. “Before” doesn’t have any context or meaning outside of time, so asking about before time is like asking about beneath the bottom. Isn’t it pointless to ask what is within the center point? It’s reminds me of turtles, all the way down.

Perhaps we have all imagined what it would be like to be able to stop time for the universe and step out of it and continue in some isolated bubble, perhaps accomplish some otherwise impossible achievement. It is silly to suppose this means stopping time. It simply means speeding up our own actions such that everything else seems essentially still. Time would march on. Time just doesn’t seem  to have context relative to eternity.

I commented previously regarding exploring the universe and supposed it impossible. There simply would not be enough time. That is, the time the entire universe will exist doesn’t seem to provide enough time for us finite humans to be able to explore it thoroughly, at least not in the sense of travelling it throughout its extent. I think it nonsense to consider what happened before time began. It is the same to contemplate what will happen after time ends. There is no context. Such words stretch beyond any possible sense and meaning.

 

I don’t think this can be repeated enough.

“But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.”

The comments regarding Millikan and electronic charge are paramount as well.

You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest to fool. Never forget that nature will not be fooled.

Watts Up With That?

After watching the movie “The Challenger Disaster” on the Discovery channel tonight, I thought it would be good for WUWT readers to read Feynman’s famous address. At the end, there is a quote from Feynman, which appeared at the end of his Challenger appendix report. – Anthony

Cargo Cult Science

From a Caltech commencement address given in 1974. Also in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas–which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn’t work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact, that we have difficulty in…

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We Oklahomans are acting the fool. We live in tornado alley, and we put up giant fans. It is windy here, but wind is still highly variable between dead calm and gale force. (And the tornadoes.) The windmills screw with our weather radar, weather radar that saves lives every storm.

We are an energy state, yet we think we should put up windmills. We have significant bat preserves and cave areas. Not for long, it would seem.

Over and over for over three thousand years, we have abandoned windmills. We will again, hopefully this time before the costs are horrific and long-enduring.

Watts Up With That?

Bats-graphic[1]

I wonder how many bats coal and nuclear power plants killed last year?

From the University of Colorado Denver

Bats pollinate crops, control insects

DENVER (Nov. 15, 2013) – More than 600,000 bats were killed by wind energy turbines in 2012, a serious blow to creatures who pollinate crops and help control flying insects, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver.

“The development and expansion of wind energy facilities is a key threat to bat populations in North America,” said study author Mark Hayes, PhD, research associate in integrated biology at CU Denver. “Dead bats are being found underneath wind turbines across North America. The estimate of bat fatalities is probably conservative.”

The study, which analyzed data on the number of dead bats found at wind turbine sites, will be published next week in the journal BioScience.

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Watts Up With That?

sisyphus-catElevated from a comment by Doug Proctor November 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

I’ve been thinking about what makes the warmist-skeptic fight go on and on. What I have noted is the constant difference in how each side places its emphasis, and that this shows up in its speech. Specifically, the skeptics use declarative, as in “this will”, “this shall” or “this does”, and, of course, its negative equals. The warmists use conditionals, i.e. words like “could” or “should” or “may” or “might” that indicate undefined probabilities and, in truth, possibilities, things that are determinable only after the fact.

The use of conditionals after 25 years is remarkable (here I make a declarative statement). Despite all the models and claims of correlation/matching of observation, we still have no “does”, “shall” or “will” in the IPCC or other CAGW programme. The dangers and fears are in the distant future, discussed only…

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Is anyone paying attention?

Ethanol as fuel is bad. Burning our food as fuel while people starve is immoral. Requiring corn to be converted to fuel is sin. And, if that isn’t enough for you, it is bad for our land and our environment, and it destroys what we pretend to want to preserve for our children.

Watts Up With That?

From the department of “told you so” comes this about-face on what was supposed to be an environmental solution. It seems the cure is worse than the disease:

corn as food not fuel“CORYDON, Iowa — The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America’s push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply.”

“Even the cemetery that disappeared like an apparition into a cornfield.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. And when President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline each year, Bush predicted it would make the country “stronger, cleaner and more secure.”

But the ethanol…

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“I don’t think that there’s any conflict at all between science today and the scriptures. I think that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we’ve tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren’t meant to say, I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. … whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.”Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, 1997. p. 72-74

http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2007/09/billy-graham-on-evolution.html

http://www.oldearth.org/index.htm

http://www.oldearth.org/CSHOF_shame.htm

 

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