Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience

From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/whole-foods-americas-temple-of-pseudoscience?via=twitter_page

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the “three kinds of truth”

In this 5 minute clip, from the Joe Rogan podcast, Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses his idea of the three different kinds of “truth.” It’s an interesting discussion on the definition of the word but also the implications of how we use words. Short enough to be interesting but not so long as to be tedious. For a tedious conversation on truth, see the previous post on the conversation between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson.

I linked the video at the start of the relevant conversation.

Below is just the audioclip that you can stream just the audio if youtube is blocked and download below that if you just want the mp3 file.

Download Tyson 3 truths edit

JOHN ARNOLD MADE A FORTUNE AT ENRON. NOW HE’S DECLARED WAR ON BAD SCIENCE

Nosek was so taken with the importance of redoing old experiments that he had also rallied more than 50 like-minded researchers across the country to participate in something he called the Reproducibility Project. The aim was to redo about 50 studies from three prominent psychology journals, to establish an estimate of how often modern psychology turns up false positive results.

It was little wonder, then, that funders didn’t come running to support Nosek: He wasn’t promising novel findings, he was promising to question them. So he ran his projects on a shoestring budget, self-­financing them with his own earnings from corporate speaking engagements on his research about bias.

https://www.wired.com/2017/01/john-arnold-waging-war-on-bad-science/?mbid=social_fb

Thomas Bayes and the crisis in science

Science is currently said to be suffering a “replicability crisis”. Over the last few years a worrying number of widely accepted findings in psychology, medicine and other disciplines have failed to be confirmed by repetitions of the original experiments. Well-known psychological results that have proved hard to reproduce include the claim that new-born babies imitate their mothers’ facial expressions and that will power is a limited resource that becomes depleted through use. In medicine, the drug companies Bayer and Amgen, frustrated by the slow progress of drug development, discovered that more than three-quarters of the basic science studies they were relying on didn’t stand up when repeated. When the journal Naturepolled 1,500 scientists in 2016, 70 per cent said they had failed to reproduce another scientist’s results.

This crisis of reproducibility has occasioned much wringing of hands. The finger has been pointed at badly designed experiments, not to mention occasional mutterings about rigged data. But the only real surprise is that the problem has taken so long to emerge. The statistical establishment has been reluctant to concede the point, but failures of replication are nothing but the pigeons of significance testing coming home to roost.

https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/thomas-bayes-science-crisis/

What Religion Gives Us (That Science Can’t)

My claim is that religion can provide direct access to this emotional life in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder at the majesty of nature, but there are many forms of human suffering that are beyond the reach of any scientific alleviation. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike previous secular tributes to religion that praise its ethical and civilizing function, I think we need religion because it is a road-tested form of emotional management.

Which approaches to curbing gun violence are effective? How do we know?

Often, the conversation around gun violence becomes a conversation around political identities and ideologies rather than one about truth and how we arrive at it. This website is interesting in that it focuses on what we know through science. It uses appropriate, often cautious, language to come to its conclusions. The site is worth exploring. The table below summarizes the meta analysis of existing research done by the Rand Corporation. Click through the image to find the appropriate page. You can click in the table to see what research and evidence there is to support conclusions about efficacy.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 1.03.35 PM.png

Here is a link to the main page. Worth exploring for those curious about gun policy but also as an interesting case study on the use of the scientific method to help us understand and evaluate a problem in society.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2088.html

 

Gene Editing for Good: How CRISPR Could Transform Global Development

“The technology is making it much easier for scientists to discover better diagnostics, treatments, and other tools to fight diseases that still kill and disable millions of people every year, primarily the poor. It is also accelerating research that could help end extreme poverty by enabling millions of farmers in the developing world to grow crops and raise livestock that are more productive, more nutritious, and hardier.”

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-04-10/gene-editing-good?cid=nlc-emc-paywall-free-reading-and-sharing-bill-gates-20180411