December 24, 2009

42-21558217Science Denialism Is on the Rise
Steven Newton: From evolution to global warming to vaccines, science is under assault from denialists—those who dismiss well-tested scientific knowledge as merely one of many competing ideologies. Science denial goes beyond skeptical questioning to attack the legitimacy of science itself. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Faith Needs Science
William Brown: Science has done an incredible service to the faithful: It has enhanced our capacity to wonder. That capacity, according to bioanthropologist Melvin Konner, is “the hallmark of our species.” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

An Ordinary—and Important—Aspect of Religion
Harold Zwier: Religions have provided a mechanism for guarding and transmitting our collective memories. Not the dry history of our school days, but the living essence of a community that educates and integrates each new generation into the community, connects us to a shared past, provides communal structures with values, rules, responsibilities, and a path to nurture the next generation. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Why Do Some Religions Have Extreme Rituals?
University of Oxford anthropologist Harvey Whitehouse is not the first to note that religions tend to fall into two distinct types—those based on extensive teachings, such as Christianity and Islam, and those based on iconography and personal interpretations, including most small-scale religions and cults. Whitehouse’s particular take, though, is to suggest that rituals themselves generate this dichotomy. (Kate Douglas, New Scientist)

Snowflake Drawings Usually Defy Physical Laws
Snowflakes are six-cornered, rather than the four-, five-, and eight-cornered crystals typically depicted in children’s books, Christmas cards, and even in an ad for a science magazine. Thomas Koop of Bielefeld University in Germany noticed the frosty mistake on a subscription advertisement for Nature that contained octagonal snow crystals in the background. (Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience)

Anatomy of Angels Makes Them Unable to Fly
Professor Roger Wotton, from University College London, found that flight would be impossible for angels portrayed with arms and birdlike feathered wings. “Even a cursory examination of the evidence in representational arts shows that angels and cherubs cannot take off and cannot use powered flight,” said Wotton. (Graeme Paton, Telegraph)

Category: Field Notes

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