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Mon, 18 Feb 2019
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The Truth Perspective - Darwinian Delusions: Why Darwin Is More Dangerous Than You Think

The 19th century saw a wave of theories claiming to provide the answers for everything: Marxism, psychoanalytic theory, utilitarianism, Zionism, Darwinism, and more. But what did all their creators have in common, besides impressive beards? They all seemed to have a hollowed out, psychologically primitive understanding of human nature which denatured their own theories, and which has denatured the thought of all those influenced by their theories in the process.

Today on the Truth Perspective, we look at some of these theories, with an emphasis on Darwin, with reference to excerpts from Andrew Lobaczewski's writing on schizoid personality disorder and the creation and propagation of ideologies.

Running Time: 01:33:11

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Light Saber

Russia's new heavyweight drones

Russia drone
© Wikipedia
Russia is testing the heavy attack drone Okhotnik ('Hunter'), which is designed to dismantle an enemy's defenses. It is scheduled to enter service this year along with some similar models. Can it challenge the West's UAV reign?

The new heavy stealth attack drone Okhotnik will have its first test flight in the "nearest future," Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said on Friday. The military earlier announced that it would start receiving new state-of-the-art recon and attack UAVs this year.

With the Pentagon extensively utilizing drones like MQ-1 Predator to spot and strike targets in places like the Middle East and Afghanistan, Moscow now hopes to up its game in drone warfare.

Comment: As with most of Russia's military tech, it's highly likely these will prove to wipe the floor with anything the West currently has in operation: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Dolphin sounds generate images, research team discovers

dolphin sounds translate to images
Scientific Breakthrough - Dolphin Sounds Generate Images

Research team discovers that dolphin sounds generate images with echolocation. Amplify your worldview and explore the science and technology behind the startling announcement of "what-the-dolphin-saw" sound images, by Jack Kassewitz and John Stuart Reid, from CymaScope.com.
This week the world was witness to a mind-bending scientific breakthrough: that the clicking sounds that dolphins transmit in using echolocation actually produce pictures that may be the basis of dolphin language. And further, that with specialized technology - that includes the use of a CymaScope and 3D print technology - researchers have seen what dolphins may be seeing for the first time. This could potentially lead to understanding dolphins and communication with dolphins in their own language. [1]

"We've been working on dolphin communication for more than a decade," stated Jack Kassewitz, research team leader and founder of SpeakDolphin.com where images and a press release are available. "When we discovered that dolphins not exposed to the echolocation experiment could identify objects from recorded dolphin sounds with 92% accuracy, we began to look for a way to see what was in those sounds." Kassewitz enlisted John Stuart Reid, inventor of the CymaScope, to search for sonic images in the dolphin recordings. [2]

Cloud Lightning

Muons reveal the whopping voltages inside a thunderstorm

thunderstorm science
STORM SURGE Subatomic particles called muons can expose a thunderstorm (like this one) storing up a huge electric potential — more than a billion volts.

Physicists used subatomic particles to probe the inner workings of a cloud

An invisible drizzle of subatomic particles has shown that thunderstorms may store up much higher electric voltages than we thought.

Using muons, heavier relatives of electrons that constantly rain down on Earth's surface, scientists probed the insides of a storm in southern India in December 2014. The cloud's electric potential - the amount of work necessary to move an electron from one part of the cloud to another - reached 1.3 billion volts, the researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review Letters. That's 10 times the largest voltage previously found by using balloons to make similar measurements.

High voltages within clouds spark lightning. But despite the fact that thunderstorms regularly rage over our heads, "we really don't have a good handle on what's going on inside them," says physicist Joseph Dwyer of the University of New Hampshire in Durham who was not involved with the research.

Balloons and aircraft can monitor only part of a cloud at a time, making it difficult to get an accurate measurement of the whole thing. But muons zip right through, from top to bottom. "Muons that penetrate the thunderclouds are a perfect probe for measuring the electric potential," says physicist Sunil Gupta of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India.

Comment: See related articles:

Apple Red

Train wreck of a review: An in-depth response to Lenski et al. in Science

train wreck
© Wikimedia Commons
1895, Montparnasse Station, Paris
Last week Science unexpectedly published a scathing pre-publication review,1 by Richard Lenski and two co-authors, of my book Darwin Devolves. I have already posted a short gleeful reply,2 noting their almost complete lack of a response to the book's main argument, but I had planned to say more. This lengthier post will address such points as they do make, grouped into four themes: supposed counter-examples they cite; stale arguments they bring up; Lenski's own evolution work; and a clear conclusion to draw.

For readers who don't have time to plow all the way through, here are the take-home lessons:
  • gene-level counter-examples cited by the reviewers are shamelessly question-begging; the reviewers simply gesture at genes and assume they were produced and/or integrated into living systems by random processes, but neither the reviewers nor anyone else has even tried to show that is possible;
  • organ-level counter-examples cited by the reviewers as produced by exaptive processes are similarly question-begging;
  • criticisms of my earlier books cited by the reviewers were similarly question-begging and/or relied on vague, imaginative stories;
  • the reviewers are either unaware of or ignore my many detailed replies to earlier criticisms and to papers the reviewers themselves cite;
  • as noted in my previous post, the reviewers don't even attempt to grapple with the main argument of the book, that beneficial degradative mutations will rapidly, relentlessly, unavoidably, outcompete beneficial constructive mutations at every time and population scale.


The case for plate tectonics, intelligent design - and how to think about minority science views

Alfred Wegener
© ByLoewe, Fritz; Georgi, Johannes; Sorge, Ernst; Wegener, Alfred Lothar (Archive of Alfred Wegener Institute) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Alfred Wegener
The idea that continents drift is now taken for granted, but it wasn't always. In fact, when the theory was proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, it was mocked, until decades later after Wegener had already died, when the theory was ultimately accepted. The issue was one of mechanism. Wegener couldn't adequately explain what was driving the continents apart. He did know that the evidence, including the way continents could be pictured as fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, indicated strongly that they did so.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The debate about intelligent design is in many ways a replay of the controversy around Wegener's theory. Historian of science Michael Keas with the Center for Science & Culture notes the parallel in an illuminating conversation with Robert Crowther on ID the Future. The context is a discussion of methods for teaching about scientific controversies. Listen to the podcast here.


Hydrogen peroxide may have played critical role in origin of life

Bombardier beetle
© Katja Schulz, flickr
Ask the bombardier beetle—or rather, its enemies—if hydrogen peroxide has any biological use.
Most of us think of hydrogen peroxide as a sterilizing agent, normally found in disinfectants and mouthwash. It's not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing biology.

Yet, in a new paper published in the journal Astrobiology, Rowena Ball from the Australian National University and John Brindley from the University of Leeds in the U.K. suggest that this highly energetic and reactive compound may have played a critical role in the origin of life. Their "Hydrogen Peroxide (HP) Crucible Hypothesis" lays out the multiple ways the compound may have figured in the evolution of the first cell.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has two hydrogen and two oxygen atoms bound together. With twice the amount of oxygen as a molecule of water, it would have been a great source of chemical energy, and could have facilitated the prebiological evolution toward the RNA world-the stage in the development of life on Earth that many scientists believe to have existed before DNA and proteins appeared. (It also would have reacted with a lot of other compounds, however, that don't promote the evolutionary path toward RNA.)

The HP Crucible Hypothesis gets additional support from a recent paper by Greg Springsteen of Furman University in South Carolina and colleagues, who demonstrate that hydrogen peroxide can help generate a simple analog of the citric acid cycle-the most fundamental metabolic cycle for life on Earth. Significantly, this analog cycle works without the help of enzymes.


Chelyabinsk to Cuba: The Meteor Connection

docks meteor
© Rachel Cook
On February 1, 2019 a bright meteor crossed the sky over Cuba just in the middle of the day. The phenomenon, that was followed by a "smoke trail" (a characteristic cloud left by the burn in the atmosphere of a meteoroid) and a sonic boom, was witnessed by thousands of locals and tourists in the region of Pinar del Rio (western side of the island).

Almost at the same time of the impact, a cruise ship was leaving the Havana harbor and on board, Rachel Cook, an American tourist and blogger, was making a timelapse of the undocking process. Without knowing, she was recording one of the few videos known to date of the falling meteor. Meanwhile, 400 km away, in Ft. Myers beach, Florida, a web cam of the EarthCam network was filming the midday activities in the beach. Luckily, the camera was aimed at the right direction to record the meteor from afar.

Just a couple of minutes after the event, social networks, especially Instagram and twitter, received a flood of tens of videos and pictures, taken from the island, most of them showing the smoke trail left by the meteor (see the image below). One of those videos was particularly interesting. It was recorded in one of the main streets of the city of Pinar del Rio, and showed tens of people in the street contemplating with awe the remnant cloud (see the video in this link). Although the video does not show the meteor, it was full of details about the place and time when it was recorded.

Comment: See also:


Moscow cops may get AR-googles with automatic facial recognition

smart glasses
© REUTERS / Ina Fassbender
The Moscow police may get a tool similar to what their Chinese counterparts have tested - augmented reality goggles that help officers identify people by matching them against a central database.

A wearable device with facial recognition allows an officer to identify suspects on the wanted list by comparing people they interact with against a list of fugitives. If there is a match, the glasses will simply mark the person he should check for ID. Chinese police patrolling the Zhengzhou East high-speed rail station in the Henan province got their gadgets last year for a pilot project. It's not yet clear if or when the law enforcement in Moscow will get their version, but work on the technology is underway, the mayor's office confirmed to the RBC news website.

According to the report, the Russian capital considers expanding on its cooperation with a firm called Ntechlab, the developer of the FindFace facial recognition technology. Their algorithm is already analyzing footage from some 1,500 CCTV cameras installed in Moscow. Most famously their facial recognition system was used during the FIFA World Cup to boost security and helped initiate over 100 arrests - although about half of those detained were football fans banned from events over records of hooliganism.


Scientists: Chimp sign language & human communication follow the same rules

© Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
There are similarities between chimp gestures and human languages
Gestures used by chimpanzees to communicate with each other follow some of the same rules intrinsic to human language, according to a study of wild chimps living in Uganda.

Raphaela Heesen, at the University of Roehampton in the UK, and colleagues analysed video recordings of more than 2000 uses of 58 different types of "play" gestures used by chimps living in the Budongo Forest.

They found that more frequently used gestures were shorter in duration, and that longer signing sequences were made up of shorter, syllable-like gestures. These two patterns are known to apply to all human languages.