Monthly Archives: May 2017

Winston Churchill on private enterprise

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Jordan Peterson on postmodernism

Jordan Bernt Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a Canadian professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His main areas of study are the psychology of religious and ideological belief, and the assessment and improvement of personality and performance. He authored Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief in 1999. Recently he has been campaigning against the pernicious influence of postmodernism in academic life.

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Is this paper a hoax or not a hoax? You be the judge!

Why Evolution Is True

Okay, here’s a 2006 paper from the International Journal of Evidence Based Healthcare that calls for a questioning of the need for evidence. The journal is from Wiley, a reputable publisher, but have a look at the paper (click on screenshot to go to it):

A few excerpts:

From the abstract:

Background Drawing on the work of the late French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, the objective of this paper is to demonstrate that the evidence-based movement in the health sciences is outrageously exclusionary and dangerously normative with regards to scientific knowledge. As such, we assert that the evidence-based movement in health sciences constitutes a good example of microfascism at play in the contemporary scientific arena.

Objective The philosophical work of Deleuze and Guattari proves to be useful in showing how health sciences are colonised (territorialised) by an all-encompassing scientific research paradigm – that of post-positivism – but also and foremost…

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On the way home: discussion with Dawkins

Why Evolution Is True

I’m cooling my heels at R*agan Airport in DC, which I’d prefer to call National Airport, its old name. I’ll be home about noon Chicago time.

You may remember the first bit of this post’s title as a Beatles song; if you also remember the album it was on, you get extra credit.

The event last night with Richard Dawkins at Lisner Auditorium (George Washington University) went well, or so I thought. There was a crowd of 900, the VIP pre-event sold out, and I think our conversation was pretty informative, though it’s always hard to tell when you’re onstage and can’t see the audience (the spotlights were fierce). I tried to concentrate on evolution, though I did pin Richard down to saying something about free will (in the dualistic sense), as in his upcoming book of essays, Science in the Soul (recommended), he’d written this:

“After my public speeches…

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Why you’re almost certainly wasting time rinsing your recycling

The Conversation

File 20170524 5752 rggjpq
Your recycling doesn’t have to be sparkling clean. Monticello/Shutterstock.com

Trevor Thornton, Deakin University

Once a fortnight we diligently wheel our recycling bin to the kerb, and then probably give ourselves a pat on the back while thinking of all the useful products we have helped to create, and the resources and energy we have saved. The Conversation

Yet it pays to think a bit more deeply about what is going into each bin. Audits of kerbside collections have shown that around 10% (by volume) of the material placed in kerbside recycling bins shouldn’t be there. The most common “contamination” items include plastic bags (both full and empty), textiles, green waste, polystyrene (styrofoam) and general rubbish.

The problem cuts the other way too. Around a third of landfill waste bins routinely contain recyclables or green waste.

How many of us actually know where the contents of our recycling bin go, who manages it, and how the various materials are separated? This knowledge is a crucial element in reducing contamination and improving our recycling industry.

Bin information

A 2005 report found that 48% of Australians are confused about what can and cannot be recycled, not least because the rules and practices differ between local governments and commercial operators, and between households and workplaces.

For household recycling, we generally receive an annual flyer from the council telling us what should and shouldn’t go in the recycling bin. But there is typically little or no feedback on whether we’re getting it right.

By way of example, ask yourself (and your friends) how much time you spend rinsing out tins, yoghurt pots and other food containers before throwing them in the recycling.

The truth is that you don’t have to do this at all, because today’s recycling systems can easily cope with the levels of food often found in or on these containers. Yet many householders still do it, either because they were never told it was unnecessary, or because they were given the information but didn’t read it. Meanwhile, we waste water, energy and time rinsing our recycling.

Where’s the info?

A recent confidential report compiled for four regional councils in Victoria found that only 29% of householders had ever looked at a council website for information about recycling. Most respondents said they got their information from schools, local newspapers and bin stickers.

It is important to have clear information from the right source about which items can and can’t be recycled. One example is plastic shopping bags, which many supermarkets urge their customers to recycle by placing them in dedicated bins on the shop premises. But this might prompt shoppers to think that plastic bags can be recycled in their kerbside collection too, which is typically not the case. And, as we saw above, relatively few householders check their local council’s website for the right information.

Plastic bags are just one of the common contaminants in the recycling stream that result in large volumes of recyclables being rejected and disposed of in landfill. This comes at a cost to the council, and therefore to us.

Plastic shopping bags inevitably accumulate after a trip to the supermarket.
mtsofan/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA
Some shopping centres will have bins for recycling plastic bags, but plastic bags typically belong in the rubbish. chartphoto/flickr

Many items can be recycled, given the right equipment. To persist with the plastic bag example, these require a machine that can separate them from the rest of the waste stream.

But this doesn’t work for full plastic bags, regardless of whether they contain rubbish or other recyclables. Full bags go straight to landfill because it is too laborious to empty them, and in some cases (such as when they contain nappies) doing so poses a health risk for workers at the recycling facility.

A little consumer knowledge goes a long way – both in improving the efficiency of our recycling systems and in increasing the motivation of householders who know they’re helping to make life easier for those who process their recycling.

Disposables vs reusables

We must also have a good think, not just about the items we put in the recycling, but about which products we choose to use in the first place. Although we are bombarded with messages about reducing our use of disposable items, in some cases disposable is actually better.

It’s better to rewash and reuse ceramics instead of using polystyrene cups… but only after 1,006 uses. shadowfoot/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

One study found that a ceramic cup would need to be used at least 39 times to be a better option than paper disposable cups, and 1,006 times when compared with a styrofoam one. A plastic reusable cup would need to be washed at least 17 times to be more sustainable than paper disposable ones, and 450 times when compared with styrofoam.

So if you’re prone to losing or breaking things (or just collecting too many reusable cups!), then it might be wise to consider going disposable (or being more careful).

Then comes the issue of whether and how these disposable cups can be recycled. Most outlets now use paper rather than styrofoam cups. While the plastic lid can be recycled, in most instances the cup cannot as there is a film of a plastic waterproof material inside it.

A good plan is to ask whether your favourite café stocks cups that can be recycled. If so, encourage them to put up a sign (if they haven’t already) indicating that they use fully recyclable cups, to avoid confusion.

The key to all of this is knowledge and balance – that is, after all, what sustainability is all about.

Trevor Thornton, Lecturer, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.  (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

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Daily reading: the Manchester attacks and ISIS

Why Evolution Is True

Well here’s a surprise: The Independent, a Leftist newspaper, has managed to transcend the hypocrisy of sites like the Guardian to publish the following op-ed piece (click on the screenshot to read). Sadly, the Independent ceased on-paper publication in March of last year, and is now found only online. I used to read it when I lived in the UK.

A quote from author Patrick Cockburn, who’s speaking of Wahhabi Islam:

This approach of not blaming Muslims in general but targeting “radicalisation” or simply “evil” may appear sensible and moderate, but in practice it makes the motivation of the killers in Manchester or the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 appear vaguer and less identifiable than it really is. Such generalities have the unfortunate effect of preventing people pointing an accusing finger at the variant of Islam which certainly is responsible for preparing the soil for the beliefs and actions likely…

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Clueless ideologue of the week

Why Evolution Is True

Click on the screenshot to go to the article, if you must. It’s from Curve,  a lesbian magazine, but the same sentiments have been expressed by non-gay people.

Even if the attack aimed at killing as many girls as possible, isn’t it conceivable that such a plan would come from Islam’s misogyny and dislike of Ariana Grande as a symbol of Western decadence? I’m not saying that’s the case, since we know nothing about why this concert was targeted, but to jump to the conclusion above, completely ignoring religion, bespeaks a profound and delusional ideology.

h/t: Melissa Chen

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British officials not inclined to share info with US after Manchester leaks

Why Evolution Is True

by Grania

Jerry asked me to post this, although no doubt some of you are already aware of the situation.

The BBC broke the story that British officials and police have stopped sharing information with the US after both The New York Times and CBS published sensitive information that were apparently sourced through government leaks which police claim could undermine their current investigation.

CNN interviewed Shashank Joshi of the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank on cross-border shared intelligence:

“A lot of the information that leaked overnight Monday was fairly mundane, about casualty figures and the method of attack, but the leaking of the suspect’s name was more disruptive because it might have tipped off other suspects.”

New Statesman also notes that the Israeli government is also reviewing intelligence sharing with Washington, no doubt in view of last fortnight’s debacle in the White House with Russian officials in the Oval Office…

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Indonesia flogs 10 people for violating sharia law; two gays get 83 lashes each before jeering crowd

Why Evolution Is True

Apologists like Reza Aslan always point to Indonesia as an “enlightened” Muslim country, and it is less repressive in some ways than places like Saudi Arabia. Still, the country has a blasphemy law, which Wikipedia characterizes like this:

Indonesia prohibits blasphemy by its Criminal Code. The Code’s Article 156(a) targets those who deliberately, in public, express feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt against religions with the purpose of preventing others from adhering to any religion, and targets those who disgrace a religion. The penalty for violating Article 156(a) is a maximum of five years imprisonment.

That article gives lots of examples of punishment for blasphemy; here’s one:

On 28 June 2006, the Polewali, South Sulawesi state court sentenced Sumardi Tappaya, a Muslim and a high school religious teacher, to six months in prison for heresy after a relative accused him of whistling during prayers. The local MUI declared the whistling…

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Anti-vaccers, climate change deniers, and anti-GMO activists are all the same

The Logic of Science

I imagine that quite a few people were upset by the title for this post, so let me explain what I mean, and please hear me out before you sharpen your pitchforks. The arguments used by all three of these groups, and indeed by science deniers more generally, are all fundamentally the same. In other words, the underlying logical structure is identical for the arguments used in support of all three of these positions. Thus, it is logically inconsistent to criticize one of these positions while embracing another.

You see, what I have observed over the past few years of blogging is that very few people like to think of themselves as “anti-science” or as a “science denier.” Those people certainly exist, and I do encounter them, but most of the people who visit my blog/page claim to love science…at least until it disagrees with their ideology. This puts them…

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