Malcolm Gladwell dumped on

Razib Khan (Gene Expression) and Christopher Chabris (The Invisible Gorilla) are not impressed with Gladwell’s latest work “David and Goliath“. Further info at:

A few years ago I tried to read Gladwell’s book “blink” but I didn’t get past the first few pages; I’m obviously not the target audience. And that’s quite ironic considering the premise behind “blink“!

The interesting thing about the articles from Khan and Chabris is it’s clear that, although Gladwell does not have good evidence for a lot of things he promotes, it does provoke debate. Perhaps Gladwell just needs to be a bit more transparent to his readers that his conjectures are not supported with good evidence, but are worth exploring. But then what do I know? I couldn’t get past the first few pages of “blink“!

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

potholer54 destroys David Rose and the Daily Mail

I’ve previously highlighted the videos by potholer54 and his doughty work to show how to sort the wheat from the chaff, and to expose the myths in the climate change debate. potholer54 has just put up a new video in response to the more recent misinformation in the media. In particular, potholer54 exposes David Rose of the Daily Mail as the guilty party for such misinformation:

Latest myth from the Mail on Sunday: Arctic ice has returned

Make no mistake, potholer54 will challenge and expose anyone for their lies, exaggeration and misinformation regardless of their support or denial of global warming. It’s the truth that matters.

I beg your forgiveness for repeating potholer54’s quote, but it is irresistible:

There is a lot of inaccurate nonsense about climate science written in blogs and the media, whether exaggerating the effects of climate change or seeking to undermine the science behind it. This series checks the sources of these claims and shows how they have been misinterpreted or deliberately altered. I have no expertise in climatology, I am a former science journalist, so checking facts is what I do. And I always cite these sources so you can check them for yourselves. Along the way, I explain the real science as relayed by researchers in published papers, in a way that makes it easy to understand.

Check out his playlist, you will be enlightened:

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Eugenie C. Scott to retire

Over the years I’ve come across the work done by Eugenie C. Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and I’ve posted some articles on her work. I remember quite clearly when she was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Science in 2010. Earlier this year, Scott announced that she would retire by the end of the year.

NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott announced on May 6, 2013, that she was planning to retire by the end of the year, after more than twenty-six years at NCSE’s helm. “It’s a good time to retire, with our new climate change initiative off to a strong start and with the staff energized and excited by the new challenges ahead,” she commented. “The person who replaces me will find a strong staff, a strong set of programs, and a strong board of directors.”

During Scott’s time at NCSE, she was honored with no fewer than eight honorary degrees as well as the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Science, the inaugural Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Public Service Award from the National Science Board, and the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It’s not going to be easy to fill the shoes of someone who has done so much to make NCSE into the respected and admired organization it is,” remarked Brian Alters, the president of NCSE’s board of directors. “We look forward with working with Genie to find the best possible successor.” A job announcement is now available; members and friends of NCSE are encouraged to spread the word that what Scott once described as “the best job in the world” will soon be open.

Science Insider (May 6, 2013) reported on the announcement, quoting Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University as saying of Scott, “She’s incomparable, irreplaceable, and indispensable,” and Sean B. Carroll of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as saying, “The entire scientific community, legions of teachers, and millions of students owe her a great debt for her dedication and passionate advocacy. She has established a remarkable legacy at NCSE.”

She’s done a good job at the NCSE, and I’d like to thank her for that work there and for her lectures.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Climate change explained, and the myths debunked

The potholer54 YouTube channel has a lot of easily understood videos on science and highlights some of the lies and misinformation in the media and on the Internet. He says:

The main purpose of this channel is to explain in simple terms the conclusions of scientific research, and correct some of the unsourced crap we get fed on the Internet. I am a former science journalist (see the “Who I am” video) with a degree in geology.

In particular, potholer54’s series on climate change is simply unsurpassed when it comes to detailing all the nonsense out there on both sides of the so-called “climate change debate”. He says:

There is a lot of inaccurate nonsense about climate science written in blogs and the media, whether exaggerating the effects of climate change or seeking to undermine the science behind it. This series checks the sources of these claims and shows how they have been misinterpreted or deliberately altered. I have no expertise in climatology, I am a former science journalist, so checking facts is what I do. And I always cite these sources so you can check them for yourselves. Along the way, I explain the real science as relayed by researchers in published papers, in a way that makes it easy to understand.

I highly recommend you view this series if you want to know what’s really going on. The series is several hours long but is available in a handy playlist here:

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Religion is a barrier to the understanding of the true nature of things

I was perusing the Discovery Magazine blogs and came across an article from Nov 2012 by Razib Khan which seeks to describe some of the tensions experienced between religion and science:

Within the framework of Western civilisation, past endeavours at seeking knowledge have, in large part, been motivated and instigated through religious inspiration. However, the religious increasingly did not like what was being found, and their early attempts to smother the truth were heavy handed, unjust and brutal. But these prohibitions on seeking and disseminating knowledge on the true nature of things were ultimately doomed to failure as the methodology for discovering truth matured into what we call science. Religion, today, has no part to play in the search for truth, be they of a scientific nature or of a moral nature.

Khan’s blog is quite interesting as it piques my interest in human origin, so I intend to spend a bit of time there catching up on all of his articles.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

The Koran for free. Or maybe not.

The Koran, much like the Bible, is full of injustice, intolerance, cruelty, violence, contradictions, and hate. It’s true, though, that violence is much more likely to come from Muslims than from Christians. Christianity has had its violent past but it is now largely neutered but Islam is increasingly expressing more closely its core fundamental believes manifested as violence. In that respect I can see, without condoning, why Germany seems against the free-issuing of Korans:

But such differential prohibitions are not for the common good. Most people who have rejected religion are those that have studied religion and found it to be nothing more than man-made nonsense. Instead of such censorship, I would rather concentrate on secularising governments and making fun of religion by highlighting the nonsense/injustice/hatred/etc. in these religions, and showing the incompatibility of religion to the truths revealed by the beauty of science.

I, for one, will take it as extremely insulting if any person of faith makes the assumption that their faith gives them the moral edge on me. I want to hear a lot more apologising from the faith based communities for the evil that they’ve done before they even start clearing their throats and telling me I wouldn’t know right from wrong without their permission. I’m sorry, I won’t be, can’t be spoken to in that tone of voice and nor should any of you.
— Christopher Hitchens

I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.
— Thomas Jefferson

There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That’s perfectly all right; they’re the aperture to finding out what’s right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.
— Carl Sagan

Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
— Christopher Hitchens

I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake… Religion is all bunk.
— Thomas Edison

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012