23 December 2005

Sci Friday

Hmmm... I'm attempting to do this on Friday again. I wonder if it will actually happen...

First, the big news is the Dover decision. So Merry Kitzmas to all, and to all a good night! The problem with Intelligent Design is that its version of evidence is to point at something and announce: "See! It looks designed!" There is no other evidence, and no attempt to quantify what "complexity" is, or even an algorithm to apply to something to determine if it is designed. So consider snowflakes. "Whoa. Dude. See how complex and ordered they are! There must be tons of little elve dudes sitting up in the clouds making them!" If you don't buy that argument, don't bother with intelligent design. (Not to mention that including this in science opens a huge theological can of worms: we were Designed to be prone to lower back problems and knee problems, etc, ergo the Designer is not perfet. Also, who Designed the Designer?)

Before I move away from evolution, consider that it makes specific, testable predictions. Creationism does not. Nor does intelligent design. As an example, consider the selection of genes fit for civilization. (For the record, I think it would be extremely entertaining if evolution turned out to be wrong, since I love seeing things put on their head, but the preponderance of evidence leads me to doubt this is going to happen.)

And some of the building blocks of life have been found by a nearby star. For a different kind of alien, we've got a new invasive threat to our trees. Also, evergreen and deciduous trees have different means of transporting water. Humans, on the other hand, used canals, and some old ones have been found in Peru.

Now, supposedly we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but most people do, to the point that publishers devote a great deal of consideration to covers. The cover is the primary factor in influencing someone to pick up a book and take a closer look. At that point, the cover ceases to be important, but it seems to be the initial trigger. Perhaps books do hold a mirror up to life, but, if so, people aren't getting it. I saw a summary of this before, but that one left out a crucial detail and hence made no sense. This one includes enough detail to be useful, so I am happy to include it. Happiness, btw, is a predictor of success, not a result of it. Happy people tend to be more successful.

On a lighter (and higher?) note, baking spices contain compounds that are precursors to amphetamines. Also, an article analyzing insanity at Christmas.

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