Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Scientific Plot Twists in Images

Science News  (in the January 24, 2015 print publication) has a few things to correct you about. I'll summarize below and then put images of the articles below the jump, to back up my interpretation.

Speaking with a silly voice turns your babies into geniuses

Simple conclusion following from the premises. When you use "Baby Talk," you alert the child to that you're communicating with it, and its brain becomes receptive to vocabulary, grammar, object and concept associations, etc. Rather than confuse a child, speaking multiple languages to a developing infant is IDEAL, because it's at that age that we are able to learn multiple languages at once, because of the way the brain is behaving--I've heard it likened to a "sponge." So don't withhold knowledge from young children. Certainly they won't pick up on every thing you say, but the more you teach them, the more they pick up. And that's now being recognized in psychological circles.

Protein restrictions in diet may benefit longevity

This one was hard for me to take, because high protein levels is physiologically ideal before and after sustained anaerobic strength training exercise, because you're supplying your body's cells with enough nutrition and "building blocks" to repair and remodel its bone and muscle so that it won't break down already-existing musculature in response to the mechanical stresses. That's established science, so this doesn't negate that. But when sulfur-containing amino acids were cut to a low level in the diet of worms and mice, it affected their longevity and post-operation recovery significantly. However, as common sense would warn, you can't extrapolate this infinitely--some sulfur is necessary, as shown by the fact that when hydrogen sulfide was blocked, the animals had no measurable increase in survival or longevity. So when you're not caring about maintaining muscle, it would seem that having the lowest necessary levels of sulfurous amino acids in your diet, rather than a surplus, would benefit your health -- of course, humans have not been tested yet, only animals. We might be more complicated than mice. :)

Trying to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by piping it underground could cause earth quakes

"That'll teach those frackers to exploit Mother Earth!"
Yeah, 'nuff said. Ideas can kill. Wrong ideas, like man-caused global warming, inevitably lead to people trying to implement solutions to problems that don't exist, thereby causing worse problems. If your solution to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere involves putting us at risk of man-caused earthquakes, you just might be in desperate need of rethinking your misplaced concerns.

Homosexuality-obsessed Hollywood blatantly rewrites WWII history in The Imitation Game

"You mean Alan Turing didn't actually fail to report a Soviet spy in order to avoid being outed as gay?" 
Yes, that is what I am telling you. And not only that, but the pivotal moment in history that gave Turing the mechanism (electronic circuits) to realize his theory of computing (due to a switch-up in how the Germans were using their Enigma machines), was completely blotted out of the movie. So the origins of computers and the internet and everything electronic in modern society, which would have made for a great piece of history for Hollywood to portray, was glossed over in favor of overlaying a 21st century sociocultural narrative (that of the homosexual's reality consisting solely of fear of public humiliation) onto a context where the actual people involved would not have recognized it.

I'm not kidding. Alan Turing's story doesn't need modern polish. If you wanted to make him a martyr, why not note the fact that he married a female team member to hide his homosexuality? Or that he was forcibly given hormonal treatments by the British government, leading him to become chemically depressed and commit suicide? I'm not saying there wasn't legitimate oppression of homosexuals in history--and Alan Turing's story is a tragic one. But do you need to lie about the man's character and contributions to history in order to make your movie more dramatic? Shame on you.

Empiricism, while great in theory, apparently fails to be realized in actual scientific practice most of the time

This was a long article, so I'm not posting the whole thing. But take a look at all of the human elements that impact the reliability of published results. They are worth being aware of, and keeping in the back of your mind when you hear of sensationalized studies. I'm hardly bashing scientific research. The article addresses why some results are not perfectly replicable, with fair effect. But assertions made in papers are anything but monolithic presentations of absolute fact, and should not ever be uncritically received as such.

Ancient Egyptians and Scandinavians had trade contact. So their cultural religions, creation myths, cosmologies and pantheons were likely influenced by each other.

"These results demonstrate that the globalization of trade is not a modern invention." 

Ancient Egyptian cobalt-blue glass beads were found in graves in Denmark.

It should be noted that according to the historian Snorre Sturlason (c. 1200 A.D.), in his Ynglinga Saga, the namesakes of Odin, Thor, Balder, Frey/a, etc were all early founders of the Swedish empire at Uppsala, serving as warrior-priests. In other words, they were considered real living people who are placed at around 200-100 BC, and are described as having emigrated from Turkey to Sweden at that time. Their prominence would have later led them to be conflated with or exaggerated into god-beings. In other words, Snorre Sturlason was one of the first promoters of the critical view that cultural religious pantheons (such as the Greek, Egyptian, Roman, etc) begin as veneration and idolization of political leaders, and progress into ancestor worship and eventually an apotheosis, or deification of the distant human characters.

The date means that whereas the organization of the Egyptian and Norse pantheons may be influenced by each other, the namesakes of the Norse cannot derive earlier than the 100s AD, for historical reasons.

And here are the images:
Baby Talk
Protein Restrictions (look at the second from bottom right paragraph)
List of quakes apparently caused by changing the hydraulic pressure of liquids in the crust.
Great One-Page Review. Recommended reading.
"12 reasons research goes wrong" page 1
Page 2
It's always been a small world.
Whoah. I don't know why it's nesting like that. Not motivated to undo it, though. It isn't messing with the formatting all too badly.

All images taken as-is from Science News, volume 187, no. 2. January 24, 2015. www.sciencenews.org.

A free copy was available at the Y, and if it's free to show to an undefined number of people on paper, that must transfer to on-line usage, no? I'm almost convinced there's a SCOTUS case enumerating this right, but I haven't looked. At any rate, my small blog wouldn't constitute a financial loss to the magazine, so I should be litigation-free from any newspaper or magazine I repost, I imagine, especially since photographs of print editions are my property, and since I'm giving attribution, not profiting from it, etc. These are just rambling thoughts from my head on the subject.

~ Rak Chazak

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