Science Guardian

Truth, beauty and paradigm power in science and society

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

News, views and reviews measured against professional literature in peer reviewed journals (adjusted for design flaws and bias), well researched books, authoritative encyclopedias (not the bowdlerized Wiki entries on controversial topics) and the investigative reporting and skeptical studies of courageous original thinkers among academics, philosophers, researchers, scholars, authors, filmmakers and journalists.

Supporting the right of exceptional minds to free speech, publication, media coverage and funding against the crowd prejudice, leadership resistance, monetary influences and internal professional politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, HIV(not)AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, information technology, religions and cults, health, medicine, diet and nutrition.

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HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Halton C. Arp wki/obit/txt/vds/txt/txt/bk/bk, Henry Bauer txt/blg/ blg/bks/bk/txt/bk/vd, John Beard bk, Harvey Bialy bk/bk/txt/txt/rdo/vd, John Bockris bio/txt/ltr/bk, Donald W. Braben, Peter Breggin ste/fb/col/bks, Darin Brown txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/vd, Giordano Bruno bk/bio/bio, Frank R. Buianouckas, Stanislav Burzynski mov, Erwin Chargaff bio/bk/bio/prs, James Chin bk/vd, Nicolaus Copernicus bk, Mark Craddock, Francis Crick vd, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw txt/bk, Roger Cunningham, Charles Darwin txts/bk, Erasmus Darwin txt//bk/txt/hse/bks, Peter Duesberg ste/ste/bk/txt/vd/vd, Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman bio, John Fewster, Rosalind Franklin, Bernard Forscher tx, Galileo Galilei, Walter Gilbert vd, Goethe bio/bk/bio, Nicolas Gonzalez tlk/rec/stetxt/txt, Patricia Goodson txt/bk/bk, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Etienne de Harven bk/txt/vd, Alfred Hassig intw/txt, Robert G. Houston txt, Steven Jonas vd, Edward Jenner txt, Benjamin Jesty, Adrian Kent vd, Thomas Kuhn, Fred Kummerow, Stefan Lanka txt/txt/vd, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen vd, Paul Lauterbur vd, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, James Lovelock, Andrew Maniotis, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, Christi Meyer vd, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Luc Montagnier txt/txt/vd, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling prs/vd/vd, Eric Penrose, Roger Penrose vd, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick bio/vd/bk, Robert Root-Bernstein vd, Sherwood Rowland, Otto Rossler, Harry Rubin, Marco Ruggiero txt/txt/intw/vd, Bertrand Russell Carl Sagan vd, Erwin Schrodinger, Fred Singer, Barbara Starfield txt, Gordon Stewart txt/txt, Richard Strohman, Thomas Szasz, Nicola Tesla bio/bio, Charles Thomas intw/vd, Frank Tipler, James Watson vd/vd, Alfred Wegener vd, Edward O. Wilson vd.

ACADEMICS, DOCTORS, AUTHORS, FILMMAKERS, REPORTERS AND COMMENTATORS WHO HAVE NOBLY AIDED REVIEW OF THE STATUS QUO

Jad Adams bk, Marci Angell bk/txt/txt/txt, Clark Baker ste/txt/rdo/vd, James Blodgett, Tony Brown vd, Hiram Caton txt/txt/txt/bk/ste, Jonathan Collin ste , Marcus Cohen, David Crowe vd, Margaret Cuomo, Stephen Davis BK/BK,/rdo, Michael Ellner vd, Elizabeth Ely txt/txt/ste, Epicurus, Dean Esmay, Celia Farber bio/txt/txt/txt/vd, Jonathan Fishbein txt/txt/wk, T.C.Fry, Michael Fumento, Max Gerson txt, Charles Geshekter vd, Michael Geiger, Roberto Giraldo, David Healy txt, Bob Herbert, Mike Hersee ste/rdo, Neville Hodgkinson txt /vd, James P. Hogan, Richard Horton bio/vd/vd, Christopher Hitchens, Eric Johnson, Claus Jensen vd, Phillip Johnson, Coleman Jones vds, William Donald Kelley, Ernst T. Krebs Sr txt, Ernst T. Krebs Jr. txt,/bio/txt/txt/ltr, Paul Krugman, Brett Leung MOV/ste/txt/txt/tx+vd/txt, Katie Leishman, Anthony Liversidge blg/intv/intv/txt/txts/txt/intv/txt/vd/vd, Bruce Livesey txt, James W. Loewen, Frank Lusardi, Nathaniel Lehrman vd, Christine Maggiore bk/ste/rec/rdo/vd, Rouben Mamoulian txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/doc/flm/flm, Noreen Martin vd, Robert Maver txt/itw, Eric Merola MOV, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Michael Moore bio/MOV/MOV/MOV, Gordon Moran, Ralph Nader bk, Ralph Moss txt/blg/ste/bks, Gary Null /txt/rdo/vd, Dan Olmsted wki, Toby Ord vd, Charles Ortleb bk/txt/bk/intw/flm, Neenyah Ostrom bk, Dennis Overbye, Mehmet Dr Oz vd, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos ste/vd, Maria Papagiannidou bk, Thomas Piketty bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk, Robert Pollin txt/vd/bk, Jon Rappoport bio/bk/bk/ste/bk/bk/vd, Janine Roberts bk/bk, Luis Sancho vd, Liam Scheff ste/txt/bk/bk/rdio/vd, John Scythes, Casper Schmidt txt/txt, Joan Shenton vd/vd, Joseph Sonnabend vd, John Stauber, David Steele, Joseph Stiglitz bk/txt, Will Storr rdo Wolfgang Streeck, James P. Tankersley ste, Gary Taubes vd, Mwizenge S. Tembo, John Tierney vd, Michael Tracey, Valendar Turner rec, Jesse Ventura bk, Michael Verney-Elliott bio/vds/vd, Voltaire, Walter Wagner, Andrew Weil vd, David Weinberger bio/bk/blg/blg/BK/bk/pds, Robert Willner bk/txt/txt/vd, Howard Zinn.

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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

The progress of science is strewn, like an ancient desert trail, with the bleached skeletons of discarded theories which once seemed to possess eternal life. - Arthur Koestler

One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison. – Bertrand Russell

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. - Samuel Johnson

A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open. – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. – John Stuart Mill

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. – Mark Twain

Although science has led to the generally high living standards that most of the industrialized world enjoys today, the astounding discoveries underpinning them were made by a tiny number of courageous, out-of-step, visionary, determined, and passionate scientists working to their own agenda and radically challenging the status quo. – Donald W. Braben

An old error is always more popular than a new truth. — German Proverb

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself. – Mark Twain

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

A clash of doctrines is not a disaster, but an opportunity. - Alfred North Whitehead

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. – Samuel Johnson

Man’s mind cannot grasp the causes of events in their completeness, but the desire to find those causes is implanted in man’s soul. And without considering the multiplicity and complexity of the conditions any one of which taken separately may seem to be the cause, he snatches at the first approximation to a cause that seems to him intelligible and says: “This is the cause!” – Leo Tolstoy

The evolution of the world tends to show the absolute importance of the category of the individual apart from the crowd. - Soren Kierkegaard

Who does not know the truth is simply a fool, yet who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a criminal. – Bertold Brecht

How easily the learned give up the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of ideas in their imagination. – Adam Smith

Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned. – Mark Twain

The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. If we watch ourselves honestly, we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated. – Arthur Koestler

Whenever the human race assembles to a number exceeding four, it cannot stand free speech. – Mark Twain

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. - Adam Smith

There isn’t anything so grotesque or so incredible that the average human being can’t believe it. – Mark Twain

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. – John Stuart Mill

It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere. – Voltaire

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.- Blaise Pascal.

Illusion is the first of all pleasures. – Voltaire

The applause of a single human being is of great consequence. – Samuel Johnson

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Science at Javits: Book Expo 2013 Promises Cutting Edge Reads

May 27th, 2013

Once Again, Trade Bash Adds Buzz to Science Between Two Covers

Books Still Central for Information Seekers, Paper or E-text

More Science Best Sellers? A Few Early Picks
This week (Thu 29 thru Sat Jun 1 2013) the BEA – Book Expo America – takes over Javits again with a roaring Niagara of books in all shapes and colors on every theme for the delectation of tens of thousands of booksellers, reviewers, reporters and now even more than the one thousand consumers than last year, who are allowed in as “Power Readers” for $49 on the final day to share in the swag.

Even with the galloping advance of e-books, the gigantic BEA remains the most important annual event at that venue, where the continuing supremacy of the book as the richest information package and as literate entertainment is celebrated. The trade event is for booksellers to meet authors, with some tickets available for consumers on Saturday, and is essential for editors and reviewers of books in every field.

Reign of the printed book continues while e-books develop

As anyone who works seriously with any area of research and scholarship knows, the physical book has long been not only a beautiful thing but the finest source on almost any topic, an invaluable storehouse of the best new and old ideas and data available.

This especially applies to science in a media world where science reporting is rarely investigative and where journal articles are generally unreadable by the public. Books may be the only good source of corrections to misleading claims by scientists who obtain political backing in Washington, although they may have no effect (there have been as many as forty exposing the absurdity of HIV/AIDS theory, without changing the consensus). Paper volumes are also still very easy and quick to refer to, to handle and to mark, and their distinct page layouts enable the mind to retain what they say more effectively than the indistinguishable pages of e-text.

There is no reason we know of why ebooks can’t catch up in richness of presentation and manageability, to add to their advantages of Search and hyperlinks, and footnotes and color illustrations are becoming more common. But in either form the book still reigns supreme, holding its position at the heart of the literate culture much better than newspapers, it seems. One reason is that authors put their heart and soul into their books, and happily take personal responsibility for their quality and usefulness.

The result is that printed books usually have higher quality content than other media in terms of breadth and depth of research and independent perspective on important issues. They also tend to be more novel and original in their approach and inhabit the cutting edge of their topics more often than group discussions on stage or television, where the demands of politesse and reputation – not to mention media politics – discourage too much novelty and difference in views.

Crowd sourced and group serviced Wikipedia entries and Web sites do well enough in keeping up to date if they are well maintained, but they are too often taken over by the dominant faction in a controversial issue who will erase any attempts to include the other side’s views. Even so, Wikipedia entries may be up to date on basic information but even then they are rarely as new, comprehensive and well thought out as a book, which is almost always much more than a collection of Wiki entries on a topic.

Why books are still best

Needless to say, the information in a physical book is far easier to manage mentally except for searching for an individual name or phrase, the one thing for which electronic versions are ideal. The main thrust of an author’s determination is to produce a physical book, which the serious reader will prefer for reading, review and reference for myriad reasons.

One is that the hands on mode not only aids the memory enormously with its tactile and visual cues but also it enables markings of important or beloved portions with pencil, Post-It or a real movable and often pretty Bookmark which allow reference faster even than electronic search, in fact instantaneously.

Vast market though science boom fading

This manageability is undoubtedly why the printed book is not fading away in favor for the e-book but is still vast in terms of sheer numbers in most categories. Despite a huge falloff in the business of reprinting public domain titles the number of printed books from traditional publishers in the US rose in 2011 to about 350,000, according to Bowker, though the gain of 6% was entirely caused by the boom in self publishing. Self-published books totaled 211,269 in both ebook and printed form while traditional houses maintained print output level.

Sadly, science books declined 13 per cent in 2011 but nonetheless we found many exceptional titles at the BEA last year in finished or proof form, heralding the bumper crop of bestsellers in the present season. We expect the same this year, when the BEA runs from Wednesday May 29 to Saturday June 1st, with exhibits displayed from Thursday May 30 and accommodating consumers on the final day.

Titles in the pipeline

Here are three potentially interesting picks from the proofs pipeline:

    Breakpoint: Why The Web Will Implode, Search Will Be Obsolete, and Everything Else You Need to Know About Technology is in Your Brain, by Jeff Stibel (Palgrave Macmillan Jul 23)

Stibel is a brain (neuro) scientist and chairman of BrainGate which uses chips to allow the disabled to control electronics with thoughts. Something of an Internet futurist, he predicts that all networks reach a breaking point and collapse, like MySpace, and that will include Facebook and Google. Stibel (also CEO of the Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp and on the board of Brown’s Entrepreneurship program Tuft’s Gordon Institute and USC’s Innovation Institute) seems the right, realistic guide to the creative destruction of the Internet, and he makes some intriguing predictions, such as the emergence of megabrains fueled by crowdsourcing, all inspired by his study of ants and termite colonies, among other things which point the way to a future where networked quality will replace quantity.

    Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman (Norton, June 17)

One of Foreign Policy’s list of top 100 Global Thinkers, Ethan Zuckerman is the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, and an Internet activist who blogs at a high level on policy and trends. He maps the current state of the Internet and explains why it has yet to form a truly connecting community and what we have to do to establish one worldwide. Early blurbs by friendly colleagues include ““Weaving a rich tapestry of stories, data, and theories, Rewire challenges many of our core assumptions about globalization and connectedness and how the Internet affects us. It is a book well worth reading.” and “No one is in a better position than MIT and Harvard’s Ethan Zuckerman to confront the Internet’s failure to connect us across cultures. Zuckerman’s astounding range, careful reasoning, and superb storytelling make Rewire an essential and urgent read,” but our copy indicates that his enlightened and wide ranging survey is a little long winded and its final conclusions too general to please an impatient reader.

    The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers by Curtis White (Melville May 28 2013)

White is a novelist and essayist and social critic whose platforms stretch from Harpers to Playboy, whose previous book The Middle Mind was praised by the wide ranging literary supernova and suicide David Foster Wallace as acute, beautiful and true. The book is a challenge to the reductionism which has invaded biology and neuroscience in recent decades, joining others who insist that consciousness and the mind is, like cellular development and DNA, far too rich and complex to be reduced to one factor alone, such as brain scans or DNA. White tilts at those who he suggests have rejected religion in favor of science as the answer to all questions on morality, creativity and the origin of life and existence, and urges that we move away from “scientism” and its material reductionism and take up Romanticism as something our technology obsessed society desperately needs.

Whether this is a justified argument for more humanity in our lives or whether it strays into the usual liberal confusion between the internal world of the imagination and the external world in examining “truth” and urging that we use our imagination more for solace and community remains to be seen, but the title is attractively provocative. Scientists have been known for a long time to be emotionally truncated, like doctors, in the service of their profession, and especially in communicating its joys of discovery to others, though this is now changing. Luckily emotions have entered the analysis of studies from economics to psychology over the last half century and even scientists now seem to generally understand that we share with other animals a brain body connection that cannot be separated, and in fact should be emphasized and even celebrated.

It is not easy to see how far Curtis White goes beyond this recent truism from a limited reading of the densely written proof, which is enjoyably cranky but demands a complete reading to capture its ultimate import. But White is billed as urging mpore poetry and philosophy in our public discussions, and it is hard to argue with that in an era where cost cutting has erased the arts in many schools across the US. But the book seems inconsistent in making early attacks on Hitchens and Dawkins as too reductionist in dismissing the benefits of religion, yet soon White is having fun debunking the simplified version of creativity peddled by Jonah Lehrer is his best seller, which had to be withdrawn after it turned out he had made up some blatantly unlikely quotes on behalf of Bob Dylan to confirm the thesis of the book.

University beauties

The Autumn/Winter catalogues of Harvard and other university presses promise the following titles which seem of special interest:

The Perfect Wave With Neutrinos at the Boundary of Space and Time by Heinrich Päs, Professor of Theoretical Particle Physics at Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany. Almost weightless and able to pass through the densest materials with ease, neutrinos seem to defy the laws of nature. But these mysterious particles may hold the key to our deepest questions about the universe, says physicist Heinrich Päs. In The Perfect Wave, Päs serves as our fluent, deeply knowledgeable guide to a particle world that tests the boundaries of space, time, and human knowledge. The existence of the neutrino was first proposed in 1930, but decades passed before one was detected. Päs animates the philosophical and scientific developments that led to and have followed from this seminal discovery, ranging from familiar topics of relativity and quantum mechanics to more speculative theories about dark energy and supersymmetry. Many cutting-edge topics in neutrino research—conjectures about the origin of matter, extra-dimensional spacetime, and the possibility of time travel—remain unproven. But Päs describes the ambitious projects under way that may confirm them, including accelerator experiments at CERN and Fermilab, huge subterranean telescopes designed to detect high-energy neutrino radiation, and the Planck space observatory scheduled to investigate the role of neutrinos in cosmic evolution. As Päs’s history of the neutrino illustrates, what is now established fact often sounded wildly implausible and unnatural when first proposed. The radical side of physics is both an exciting and an essential part of scientific progress, and The Perfect Wave renders it accessible to the interested reader.


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