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.



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.


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.

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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Book Expo 2014 Preview: Cornucopia at Javits Will Include Science Gems

May 13th, 2014

By Anthony Liversidge (May 13 2014)

Books still unmatched for depth of information and imagination

University presses come to fore, as Harvard tops list with Piketty’s Capital

New York’s show of the year for literati and fans

There is a boom in on line video, with Netflix accounting for as much as 40 percent of US peak downloading, and Youtube and sites such as Snagfilms, Putlocker and Topdocumentaryfilms offering a vast array of documentaries. But we celebrate real, physical books, which remain the widest and deepest source of information and entertainment for serious readers – artifacts, once in hand, that are faster to search through and more authoritative than Google, more stable visually, easier to mark, more pleasurable to spend time with, and less subject to endless distraction. Ebooks come a close second, of course: they miss out on a lot of these advantages but they have three huge ones – portability, the instant accessibility of a vast library, and electronic text search.

So once again in 2014 we welcome back Book Expo at Javits as New York City’s show of the year. Nothing matches it for the number and variety of stimulating ideas and stories wrapped in the delightful form of new printed books.

The blockbuster size of this upcoming treasure house of fact and fiction (which runs from Wed 28th to Sat 31st May for conferences and Thu 29th May to Sat for exhibits (8am-5pm except Sat 3pm, with remainders shown on Wed)) is daunting, however, even for attendees in search of special interests, such as science, politics, and economics, let alone those seeking jewels of literature.

Selections to look for

Here are some of the best upcoming or recent science, politics and economics releases we will be looking for:

The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life by Alex Bellos (Simon and Schuster June 10 2014) may be the most discursive, anecdote and example packed treatise on mathematics and humanity ever, from the UK Guardian’s math blogger who became a curator at the Science Museum after an Oxford degree in mathematics and philosophy. With a seemingly insatiable curiosity Bellos explores every nook and cranny of math and number lore from past to present in an extraordinary tour de force.

The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr (Overlook Press, March 6 2014) examines the capacity of unconventional thinkers to cling to radical notions in the face of scorn and derision from the mainstream and then rationalize them so expertly that the inexpert cannot fathom who is right – sometimes even the expert is lost. While exploring the way our minds work to resist change – the psychology of belief – Storr is sympathetic to radical thinkers and does not demonize them, however tenaciously they hold to extreme beliefs, leaving the reader to consider whether they may have a point. After all, most Nobel prizes are won by radical thinkers, often scorned in the early years of their achievements.

Capital in the Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty (Harvard, 696 pp, March 10 2014), a young French economist who has turned assumptions upside down. He has thoroughly researched the tax records of the last two centuries in France and elsewhere to topple dogma and show that unless war, depression and tough unions interfere, the natural state of unleashed capitalism is to reward capitalists more and more and workers less and less, just as Marx predicted. The recent 30 years of growing inequality is simply the inevitable trend says Piketty, as the return on investment tends to outpace growth in the economy, and untaxed inheritance multiplies the gains for the rich. The new Gilded Age now upon us can only be reversed by major taxes on riches and inherited wealth, he argues, in this academically accurate but highly readable (though the economics can be technical) 700 page book which after 200,000 copies initially Harvard is racing to reprint as it sits at the top of the best seller list. The best review is by Paul Krugman in the New York Review of Books, where he joins Joseph Stieglitz and other economists and liberal reviewers in praising it to the skies as seminal. Activists are adopting it as a major manual for the future of politics and government, and columnists for business periodicals such as the Financial Times are working hard to refute its message.

Wade has left the Times where he reported orthodox ideas to champion bold notions that upset the orthodox A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History by Nicholas Wade (288pp Penguin, May 6). A longtime reporter on orthodoxy and complacent editorial writer for the New York Times has returned to his roots, as it were, once again provoking orthodox science (his first book was entitled Betrayers of the Truth), this time by advocating “bold ideas which lie outside the consensus”, as evolutionary geneticist H. Allen Orr puts it in the New York Review of Books. Wade’s explosive and improbable thesis is that since the genes of humans vary somewhat by continental location, Tibetans, for example, being adapted genetically to high altitudes, some behavioral differences may also have evolved by natural selection from different circumstances, and that the “five major races” may now differ genetically in social behavior – level of violence, trust in strangers, innovation, conformity, accumulation of wealth etc – and social institutions because of it. Wade emphasizes that his ideas are speculative and are not currently backed by hard science, though they are superficially intriguing, since they could help to explain the rise of the West and decline of Islam and China, or the intellectual success of the Jews. But reviewers point to North and South Korea as counter examples where presumably identical genes have been overwhelmed by cultural differences in a very short time. A provocative discussion by a dedicated reporter having his own say at last, having broken free from group restrictions.

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Paabo (Basic Books, 288pp, Feb 11) reviewed by Steven Mithen in the New York Review of Books as a “fabulous account of three decades of research into ancient DNA” which ended with the publication of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, “to be compared to The Double Helix” as a strong personal account of scientific discovery, and history of a new scientific field.

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner (William Morrow, 288 pp, May 12). The inimitable duo of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics blew up standard assumptions in economics by applying first principles and curiosity. Now they return with a book which uses magic tricks and other examples to rise to the meta level and teach adults how to abandon basic assumptions and expectations and think like a child, ie just like Einstein. The chapter on persuasion is worth the price of the book (first principle is to tell a story).

Promoting the Planck Club: How defiant youth, irreverent researchers and liberated universities can foster prosperity indefinitely by Donald Braben, (Wiley Feb 19 238 pp) who demonstrates that in the history of science almost all the good radical notions have come from the heretics that the orthodoxy is always trying to repress. With science these days mostly funded and authorized by peer review committee either at the NIH or in private companies the book is a wake up call to the public to ensure that the fringe (a.k.a.the cutting edge) receives proper funding. It is also one of the most definitive works on how creativity flourishes in individuals in science in far more liberated and innovative fashion than in groups.

Brain Rules by John Medina (Pear Press, 301 pp, April 22) If you need it, a molecular biologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine who founded two brain research institutes has written a popular guide to how to fine tune your brain, which replaces hype with scientific research. Attention deficit starts at ten minutes for all. Multi tasking is futile. Exercise colossally reduces risk of dementia and Alzheimers. Learn why and how to nap!

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz, (Simon and Schuster, 496 pp, May 13) a New Yorker, Economist and New York Times writer who follows Gary Taubes in thoroughly reviewing and rejecting thirty years of misplaced emphasis on fat in dieting, in his case as a cause of obesity, in her case as threatening heart disease. “How overzealous researchers and … premature institutional consensus allowed dangerous misrepresentations to become dietary dogma.” “Tracks how a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data”.

 Julian Simon won the bet, but would he now? The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and our gamble over Earth’s future by Paul Sabin (Yale University Press, 320pp, Sep 3 2013) revisits the famous bet that the Earth would run out of resources to support the modern economy, which Julian Simon won in 1990 after ten years when technology advanced more rapidly than resources (five metals) dwindled. Now Sabin suggests that we have run out of time, soon technology will be unable to keep pace, and a crisis looms. Especially interesting as a record of politics in a scientific dispute and “how intelligent people are drawn to vilify their opponents and to reduce the issue that they care about to stark and divisive terms” (Publishers Weekly).

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte (Sarah Crichton Books, 368 pp, March 11) deals with one of the biggest mysteries in current economics, why after a half century of growth we all seem to have less leisure than ever – in fact, seem to be on 24/7. A four page review in the New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert notes that John Maynard Keynes in 1931 in “Economic Possibilities” predicted the opposite – that in fact by this date growth would have plunged us into the doldrums of so much leisure we wouldn’t know what to do with it. The answer seems to be that we are caught up in a spiral of ever advancing materialism and will have to get off the train before we can stand still and smell the roses in our back garden, rather than those imported from Ecuador.

General interest picks:

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 512 pp, Apr 22) An epic debut which has drawn a plethora of praise all over, from critics and readers, peaking with an admiring three pages by James Wood in the New Yorker (May 19, p87) which labeled it a “dazzling” five hundred pages of rich philosophical musing in elegantly clear English on how the privilege of high intelligence and education on top of distant birth makes for difficulties in class, knowledge and belonging. A Balliol scholar and banker of Pakistani heritage but brought up in America Rahman’s gift for clear, unusually intelligent story telling is apparent from the start, where he mentions Godel in the first three pages, and much other science as he goes along, making more famous novelists look like slurry mixers.

The Double Life of Paul de Man by Evelyn Barish (Liveright, 560pp, March 17) treats the odd case of the notorious literary theorist who was exposed as a great liar in his personal life, confounding his supporters when it was revealed 25 years ago. Louis Menand reviewed this new biography extensively in the New Yorker in The De Man Case and suggested that de Man was clearly a sociopath who deserved condemnation for his actions but that this didn’t invalidate his writing. Others, however, feel that his academic prominence in the US after World War II was achieved by playing self serving political games outside the realm of truth seeking which helped distract attention from his own corruption, which included anti-Semitic wartime articles, embezzlement, falsifying his academic record, bigamy and abandoning his children.

Every Trick in the Book by Charlie Dancey (Overlook Press, 720pp, Feb 7, 2013) a guide to very practical magic tricks, and Great Sayings (Overlook Press Oct 1, 2012), a fine batch of historical and contemporary quotes from Britain, are past picks from Overlook, but the publishers enduring claim to fame is its ongoing reissuing of all of the perfectly phrased works of the celebrated and finest British comic writer P.G. Wodehouse (91 reprints and counting) in very handy and handsome small hardback volumes. The Collectors Wodehouse Series is the first complete edition by any one publisher, corrected for errors, typeset in Caslon, printed on acid-free paper and bound in full cloth, with cleverly suitable dust jackets by Andrzej Klimowksi.

Show schedule:

The Press Room is open 1-5pm Wed and 8am-5pm Thu and Fri, 8am-3pm Sat; Customer Service is 1800-840-5614 or Consumers may come to the show on Sat only at BookCon though VIP Badge buyers get into the kickoff event panel discussion (Tina Fey) on and a sneak peek at the movie “This is Where I leave You”, plus “exclusive happy hour” on Friday and first access to seating for Martin Short on Saturday.

Huge number of signings

There will be over five hundred and fifty authors signing their books, as well as author breakfasts and teas(tickets required) in the Special Events Hall (Angelica Huston and Tavis Smiley 8am Thu, Dick Cavett Fri 4pm, Martin Short 8 am Sat), a bloggers conference (Wed), innumerable speakers and panelists on one of four stages discussing topics such as advantages of mainstream publishing (Thu 3pm Midtown stage), graphic novels (Thu 4pm Uptown Stage) and how to edit a translation (Sat 10 am East Side stage with Ann Goldstein of the New Yorker).

Book blogging and self publishing

Tyro bloggers may find use tips and leads at the Book Blogger conference on Wednesday ($145 before May 15, $175 after; includes breakfast and boxed lunch). All nine of the conference advisory board are female bloggers.

For self publishing authors there is a self publishing event – uPublishU – all day Sat 9am-4pm which aims to help with marketing; it demands a $215 registration for attendance plus box lunch ($115 early bird before May 15) where Kobo Writing Life are offering a free head shot (sign up before May 19).

Attendees should pay more attention to the new title showcase which has been moved from the Siberia of its former location outside the show ropes to a floor location, where perhaps it will be explored more often and more respectfully. There are always some titles worth looking into.

The show planner is here.

A warning note: apparently the organizers worry about fan behavior and have out up a warning notice on harassment policy (though in our experience, the greater danger is the people who will walk off with your bag if you put it down for a few seconds to talk with a booth person – the year before last, it was that booth person who alerted us to the miscreant, a short woman with an Eastern European accent whom we chased and reasserted our prior ownership in decisive fashion):

Harassment of any kind, including stalking, deliberate intimidation, unwelcome physical attention, physical assault and battery, will not be tolerated at BookCon. If it’s illegal outside the convention center, it’s illegal inside the convention center. Harassment is grounds for removal from BookCon without refund as well as potential legal action. We want BookCon to be a safe environment for all Fans, and if you find yourself victim of harassment at the convention please come immediately to BookCon’s Show Office.

Enjoy it while it lasts – in NYC

A sad note: it appears that after next year the show will not be at Javits any longer. The announced dates are:
2015 Thursday, May 28 – Saturday, May 30 at the Javits Center in NYC
2016 Thursday, May 12- Saturday, May 14 in Chicago

We hope not. Given that the city is the center of publishing and media in the US, we trust that the only reason to move to Chicago is they need more space and perhaps lower fees for an even larger celebration of the leading role in literate life still played by the physical book.

A few quotations about books

There has been plenty of room for comment on the role of the book and how to write one over the past few centuries. Here are random quotes to bear in mind:

One of the greatest creations of the human mind is the art of reviewing books without having read them. – Georg C. Lichtenberg

Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books. – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

The understanding between a non-technical writer and his reader is that he shall talk more or less like a human being and not like an Act of Parliament. I take it that the aim of such books must be to convey exact thought in inexact language… he can never succeed without the co-operation of the reader. – Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (Messenger Lectures (1934), New Pathways in Science (1935), 279.)

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all. – Abraham Lincoln

Until I became a published writer, I remained completely ignorant of books on how to write and courses on the subject … they would have spoiled my natural style; made me observe caution; would have hedged me with rules. – Isaac Asimov (Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov (ed.), It’s Been a Good Life (2002), p38.)

Wisdom is not wisdom when it is derived from books alone. – Horace

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