JAD on “Self-Replicating Machines and OoL”

Here at UD, we often have commenters whose remarks are well worth headlining. Here, we have JAD in action, suggesting to GP: “Here is something you might consider as a seed for a future topic for a future OP.” Yup, and even as an embryonic thought, it is well worth posting — a first, rough […]

The Universe Hawking Created from Nothing

We’ve recently noted with sadness the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking, noted theoretical physicist and cosmologist, and one of the most well-known authors and speakers on these subjects in our lifetime. Over at Evolution News, David Klinghoffer points us to an interview of Professor John Lennox by Dr. Jay Richards regarding some of the things […]

Was Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) right to object to the Kalam cosmological argument?

Kalam cosmological argument: The cosmological argument is less a particular argument than an argument type. It uses a general pattern of argumentation (logos) that makes an inference from particular alleged facts about the universe (cosmos) to the existence of a unique being, generally identified with or referred to as God. Among these initial facts are […]

Every so often, one hears whispers of Darwin doubt

This one from 2010, sent in by a reader. From John Horgan at Scientific American: Early in his career, the philosopher Karl Popper ,, called evolution via natural selection “almost a tautology” and “not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research program.” Attacked for these criticisms, Popper took them back (in approx 1978). But […]

Scientists who laboured in comparative obscurity who made a big difference

Science historian Michael Flannery kindly writes to offer a list (in case anyone was tempted to measure achievement by invites to yada yada talk shows): 1) Girolamo Fracastoro (aka Fracastorius) proposed a form of germ theory of disease in his On contagion and contagious disease in 1546 over 300 hears before Pasteur. 2) Josiah Clark […]

Facts are shaking the foundations of psychology?

From Nicolas Geeraert at RealClearScience: However, this isn’t the case. Psychologists have long disproportionately relied on undergraduate students to carry out their studies, simply because they are readily available to researchers at universities. More dramatically still, more than 90% of participants in psychological studies come from countries that are Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic […]

Postpone the climate apocalypse, will you, till we finish trimming the shrubs?

No, seriously, a sober view from John Horgan at Scientific American: In his Breakthrough essay, Pinker spells out a key assumption of ecomodernism. Industrialization “has been good for humanity. It has fed billions, doubled lifespans, slashed extreme poverty, and, by replacing muscle with machinery, made it easier to end slavery, emancipate women, and educate children. […]

Should we be celebrating Tau Day instead of Pi Day?

Here at Uncommon Descent, we never really celebrated Pi Day (March 14) this year because other stuff intervened. But pi is a really important irrational number: Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only […]

What’s the worst thing that would happen if fine-tuning of our universe were acknowledged as real?

A reader writes to ask, quoting Sabine Hossenfelder at her blog Back(Re)Action: What the particle physicists got wrong was an argument based on a mathematical criterion called “naturalness”. If the laws of nature were “natural” according to this definition, then the LHC should have seen something besides the Higgs. The data analysis isn’t yet completed, […]

Breaking: Translated from the Portuguese: Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900–1975) would have been a creationist but…

But, a witness says, he said it was too late for him. We’ve all had rammed down our throats past the vomiting point that Theodosius Dobzhansky was a religious Darwinist. That’s a way tenured Darwinians enforce dhimmitude among those who feel the need. His actual view: “Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental […]

They Won’t Dance; They Won’t Mourn

“We played your a melody, but you would not dance, a dirge but you would not mourn.” When we are discussing philosophy as it relates to ID, some A-Mat will invariably jump into the combox and howl “I thought this was a science blog; let’s get back to the science.” Well, a few weeks ago […]

New Scientist wants us to know why the Big Bang was not the beginning

From Jon Cartwright at New Scientist, Although everyone has heard of the big bang, no one can say confidently what it was like. After all, recounting the beginning of time is about finding not just the right words, but the right physics – and ever since the big bang entered the popular lexicon, that physics […]

What are we looking for when we look for the earliest life?

Here’s a new word: dubiofossil From Sophia Rootsh at Aeon: Schopf’s Apex chert fossils stood in as exemplars of every dubiofossil collected by a geobiologist seeking life in the Archean Era. As Henry Gee later put it in the pages of Nature: ‘It is hard to tell the difference between a bacterium – especially a […]

Was the media coverage of identical twins’ DNA in space horrific?

From John Timmer at Ars Technica: Why are people excited about Kelly’s DNA? The simple answer would seem to be that he has an identical twin, who must have identical DNA, and so we have a chance to see what space does to DNA. After all, space is a high-radiation environment, and we know that […]

Larry Moran asks whether evolutionary psychology is a “deeply flawed” enterprise

Longtime University of Toronto biochemistry professor and frequent Uncommon Descent commenter Larry Moran: We were discussing the field of evolutionary psychology at our local cafe scientific meeting last week. The discussion was prompted by watching a video of Steven Pinker in conversation with Stephen Fry. I pointed out that the field of evolutionary psychology is […]

Can we build a computer with free will?

While some dispute the very existence of free will, others claim to know how to build a computer with free will (so, presumably they think free will, or something like it, exists). From physicist Mark Hadley at The Conversation: Strangely, the philosophical literature does not seem to consider tests for free will. But as a […]

Researchers: Neuroscience has not “disproved” free will

From ScienceDaily: For several decades, some researchers have argued that neuroscience studies prove human actions are driven by external stimuli — that the brain is reactive and free will is an illusion. But a new analysis of these studies shows that many contained methodological inconsistencies and conflicting results. … And this isn’t a problem solely […]

At Forbes: Science lessons Stephen Hawking never learned

Following on the obit for Stephen Hawking, Nobelist (1942–2018), from Ethan Siegel offers an assessment at Forbes: 1.) We still don’t know whether black holes destroy information. A black hole, at its core, can be completely described by only three parameters: its mass, its angular momentum, and its charge. This no-hair theorem seems at odds with […]

After the multiverse, the… multiworse?

From Sabine Hossenfelder at her blog Back(Re)Action: It’s a PR disaster that particle physics won’t be able to shake off easily. Before the LHC’s launch in 2008, many theorists expressed themselves confident the collider would produce new particles besides the Higgs boson. That hasn’t happened. And the public isn’t remotely as dumb as many academics […]

From AI to eternity: Startup promises to scan brains of people consenting to euthanasia, for possible immortality

Uploaded to computer.You thought AI was just about a robot downsizing your job? From Antonio Regolado at Technology Review: Nectome will preserve your brain, but you have to be euthanized first. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that […]

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