Stikkord: <span>New Scientist</span>

New Scientist har lagt ut en interessant artikkel: Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth.

HEARD the latest? The swine flu pandemic was a hoax: scientists, governments and the World Health Organization cooked it up in a vast conspiracy so that vaccine companies could make money.

Never mind that the flu fulfilled every scientific condition for a pandemic, that thousands died, or that declaring a pandemic didn’t provide huge scope for profiteering. A group of obscure European politicians concocted this conspiracy theory, and it is now doing the rounds even in educated circles.

This depressing tale is the latest incarnation of denialism, the systematic rejection of a body of science in favour of make-believe. There’s a lot of it about, attacking evolution, global warming, tobacco research, HIV, vaccines – and now, it seems, flu. But why does it happen? What motivates people to retreat from the real world into denial?

Ja, jeg har selv kjempet og kastet bort (?) uttallige timer i lite fruktbare diskusjoner med slike, ikke skeptikere, men benektere. Mennesker som på tross av alle vitenskapelige bevis, statistikker og en rasjonell verdensanskuelse, mener å ha en spesiell evne til å se gjennom bedrageriet og gjennomskue den egentlige årsaken til ulike fenomen, uansett hvor fantastisk deres forklaring måtte høres ut for oss andre.

Men hva skyldes dette?

Here’s a hypothesis: denial is largely a product of the way normal people think. Most denialists are simply ordinary people doing what they believe is right. […]

Whatever they are denying, denial movements have much in common with one another, not least the use of similar tactics. All set themselves up as courageous underdogs fighting a corrupt elite engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the truth or foist a malicious lie on ordinary people. This conspiracy is usually claimed to be promoting a sinister agenda: the nanny state, takeover of the world economy, government power over individuals, financial gain, atheism.

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Alternativ medisin IT/Internett Media Politikk Religion/overtro Samfunn og verden Skepsis Vitenskap

Hvordan overlever egenskapen «homofili» den evolusjonistiske prosessen som avhenger av at man må spre sine gener mest mulig i best mulig tilpassede individer for at de ikke skal selekteres bort? Homofil sex skaper ikke barn, og dermed kan ikke genene til homofile videreføres. Homofili burde altså vært selektert bort fra menneskearten for lenge siden. Likevel eksisterer det fortsatt homofile. Hvorfor og hvordan?

Ny forskning tyder på at svaret er enkelt:

«It helps to answer a perplexing question – how can there be ‘gay genes’ given that gay sex doesn’t lead to procreation?» says Dean Hamer of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the work. «The answer is remarkably simple: the same gene that causes men to like men also causes women to like men, and as a result to have more children.«

The researchers asked 239 men to fill out questionnaires about their families and their past sexual experiences. On the basis of their answers, the men were classified as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual. The results showed that the maternal aunts, grandmothers and mothers of both bisexual men and homosexuals had more children than those of heterosexual men.

Camperio Ciani emphasises that, rather than being a «gay gene», this unidentified genetic factor is likely to promote sexual attraction to men in both men and women. This would influence a woman’s attitude rather than actually increasing her fertility, making her likely to have more children.

Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist and writer based in West Hollywood, California, describes this as a sort of «hyper-heterosexuality» and explains how it would help to ensure that homosexual behaviour was passed on through the generations. «The positive effect of an X-linked gene on female fecundity tends to outweigh the negative effect of the gene on male fecundity.«

Kuult.

Seksualitet Vitenskap

Fra New Scientist:

Brain scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is a biologically fixed trait.

The scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex.

The differences are likely to have been forged in the womb or in early infancy, says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

«This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects,» she says.

Media Seksualitet Vitenskap

EcoliEM4.jpgDet du nå skal lese er i følge kreasjonistene noe som er helt umulig, som aldri har skjedd og aldri kommer til å skje. Men la oss se bort fra dogmatisk idioti ideologi, og heller konsentrere oss om virkeligheten.

A major evolutionary innovation has unfurled right in front of researchers’ eyes. It’s the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait.

And because the species in question is a bacterium, scientists have been able to replay history to show how this evolutionary novelty grew from the accumulation of unpredictable, chance events.

For 20 år siden tok evolusjonsbiologen Richard Lenski en enkelt E-coli bakterie og grunnla 12 laboratorie-kulturer basert på bakteriens etterfølgere. Disse har nå gått gjennom mer enn 44.000 generasjoner og mutasjoner underveis har ført til hovedsakelig små evolusjonsmessge endringer – med ett unntak:

Mostly, the patterns Lenski saw were similar in each separate population. All 12 evolved larger cells, for example, as well as faster growth rates on the glucose they were fed, and lower peak population densities.

But sometime around the 31,500th generation, something dramatic happened in just one of the populations – the bacteria suddenly acquired the ability to metabolise citrate, a second nutrient in their culture medium that E. coli normally cannot use.

Egenskapen kalles Cit+ og her kommer noe av det mest fascinerende (mine uthevinger):

The replays showed that even when he looked at trillions of cells, only the original population re-evolved Cit+ – and only when he started the replay from generation 20,000 or greater. Something, he concluded, must have happened around generation 20,000 that laid the groundwork for Cit+ to later evolve.

Lenski and his colleagues are now working to identify just what that earlier change was, and how it made the Cit+ mutation possible more than 10,000 generations later.

In the meantime, the experiment stands as proof that evolution does not always lead to the best possible outcome. Instead, a chance event can sometimes open evolutionary doors for one population that remain forever closed to other populations with different histories.

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Religion/overtro Vitenskap

New Scientist har laget en oversikt over seks «unike menneskelige egenskaper» som også finnes hos dyr. Her omtales kultur, «tankelesing», bruk av redskaper, følelser og personlighet – med linker til videre lesing.

Min favoritt er nok likevel moral fordi dette bryter så fundamentalt med mange kristnes oppfatning om at man ikke kan være moralsk uten å tro på Gud, eller hvertfall at et samfunn må bygge på en religiøs tro for å kunne ha et moralsk fundament. Som jeg ofte har sagt i ulike debatter, så finnes det mye som tyder på at moral på ingen som helst måte er et unikt menneskelig fenomen, og hvertfall ikke knyttet spesielt til kristne kulturer.

Her er et utdrag fra artikkelen:

4. Morality

A classic study in 1964 found that hungry rhesus monkeys would not take food they had been offered if doing so meant that another monkey received an electric shock. The same is true of rats. Does this indicate nascent morality? For decades, we have preferred to find alternative explanations, but recently ethologist Marc Bekoff from the University of Colorado at Boulder has championed the view that humans are not the only moral species. He argues that morality is common in social mammals, and that during play they learn the rights and wrongs of social interaction, the «moral norms that can then be extended to other situations such as sharing food, defending resources, grooming and giving care».

[…]

«Work published this year showed that animals are able to make social evaluations and these assessments are foundational for moral behaviour in animals other than humans. Francys Subiaul of the George Washington University and his colleagues showed that captive chimpanzees are able to make judgments about the reputation of unfamiliar humans by observing their behaviour – whether they were generous or stingy in giving food to other humans. The ability to make character judgments is just what we would expect to find in a species in which fairness and cooperation are important in interactions among group members«

Personlig Religion/overtro Samfunn og verden Skepsis Vitenskap

New Scientist gir oss en liste med 5 kroppsdeler vi mennesker ikke lenger trenger. Måten evolusjon ungerer gjør at vi i dag besitter noen kroppsdeler og kroppslige funksjoner som var nyttige for oss en gang i tiden, og er nyttige for våre slektninger den dag i dag, men som vi ikke lenger har noen praktisk bruk for. Du kjenner sikkert til blindtarmen, men nei, den er ikke på listen.

Religion/overtro Vitenskap