Good Scientists Don’t Think Like Lawyers
Are scientists different than you and me? I don’t think that’s particularly true. I think the difference is how they think about things. One thing that most scientists I know have at their core is when they hear an explanation for something and they don’t think it works they do an experiment to probe whatever it is they’re studying to determine whether the current explanation holds or whether it is challenged by new experiments. So this constant posture of disbelief of the current is what makes science great. And over time the underlying science gets better and better and better. That is the scientist’s mind that is at work.
There are a lot of professions that don’t do that. They go and learn the rulebook of their profession and they play by the rules and don’t say “I think this thing ought to be thrown out.” Law is one example. In law there is a rulebook and what the lawyers get extremely skilled at doing is learning how to play by the rules and they can tell you when you’re not playing by the rules. That’s fantastic and they’re running that show, but that’s not how scientists think. Scientists say “you know that is a silly thing, just get rid of it, let me show you why because there is new thinking on it and so forth and so on.”
So there are these cultural conflicts between the various professions and scientists are always saying “I don’t think you know, let’s make sure it works that way, let’s try again and come at this another way and see if we come up with the same answer as we have had before.” So that is a big deal within science.
by MICHAEL S. GAZZANIGA
Stay Curious: bigthink’s In Your Own Words interviews experts who are either at the top of their fields or disrupting their fields. This blog presents key ideas from the experts in their own words.
This is actually why I don’t do well with political arguments, because I find that people are like “hey lets do what we have been doing cause that works.” and I’m like “no it doesn’t, how about we try this.” and they’re like “we don’t know how it will end up.” which is where I reply “exactly.”
always move forward, always question, always strive to improve. there is no best version, everything could stand an upgrade.
An optical illusion can change the implicit biases of Caucasian people against people with darker skin, according to a study published in the August 2013 edition of Cognition.
The research, a collaboration between Royal Holloway University of London, the Central European University in Budapest and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, analyzed the implicit racial biases of 34 Caucasian participants, then subjected them to something called the Rubber Hand Illusion, where they watched a rubber hand being touched by a paintbrush as they felt their own hand being stimulated out of sight. The illusion creates the sense that the fake hand is part of the subject’s body, even when it’s of a completely different skin color.
The more the participants felt like the darker skinned fake hand was their own, the less racist they came off in a second implicit bias test.
In another test, participants underwent the same process, but some saw a white hand, while others saw a dark hand. The implicit bias test showed that the opinions of those who saw the white hand didn’t change, while again those who felt ownership of the darker hand felt less racial bias.
“Across two experiments, the more intense the participants’ illusion of ownership over the dark-skinned rubber hand, the more positive their implicit racial attitudes became,” the authors write.
“It comes down to a perceived similarity between white and dark skin,” lead author Lara Maister of Royal Holloway University of London said in a press statement. “The illusion creates an overlap, which in turn helps to reduce negative attitudes because participants see less difference between themselves and those with dark skin.”
The study suggests that racial biases aren’t necessarily cemented by adulthood, but that they can be altered. “Changes in body-representation may therefore constitute a core, previously unexplored, dimension that in turn changes social cognition processes,” the authors write. They suggest that future research into different social groups and stereotypes could expand on their work, since this research only explored the attitudes of white individuals.
I’m trying to figure this study out and figure out how it’s helpful.
They act like there is hope… “racial biases can be altered”, but how? By making White people think they have dark skin?
Like are they looking for real plausible solutions to racism or are they just doing random studies/experiments?
I’m not against random experiments, it’s just I’m trying to find real solutions… so I need to know if I should take this seriously or not.
So when it comes to science, unfortunately you have to start with a trillion little baby steps to build a foundation, before you’re able to “drop the boom” and say “hey this is how this works.”
There are many scientists who are under the impression that racism is “Inherent, inborn, and unchangeable” because of the fact that the brain naturally works to differentiate objects. For example, though a table and a chair may both be made of wood, you can differentiate them, you can also differentiate the types of wood and so forth. Which then is extended to “people will always see differences in others, and regardless of what ever PC socialization projects you have, racism will never go away.”
What this experiment shows is basically this. Even adult people are able to change their perceptions on race, so long as they feel some sort of connection to the subject. In this case, they were less racist against the images they saw, because they more closely identified with the images on the screen because their hand “was black” like the black people on the screen.
This is actually shown to be the case in the social psychology “Us Vs. Them” Phenomenon. Basically there is conflict over finite resources (money, power, status) and because of this people tend to form into groups, the “In Group” or “Out Groups”. People who make mistakes in the “In Group” will be excused for their errors (Oh they got a bad break, Everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect) while members of the Out Group will be demonized for those same mistakes, (Black people are always on welfare, Mexicans are criminals, etc etc.).
This shows, that when we can make people consider themselves to be a part of groups they once considered “Out Groups” and fully adopt the identity of those within those groups, conflict can be abated.
Check out this article by Sherif http://www.simplypsychology.org/robbers-cave.html
so long story short, this isn’t exactly a “random experiment” it’s a building blog for wider social change.
“Life long neuroplastic change in the brain”
This is why I have such a problem with porn, it rewires your brain, and the messages you’re getting (whatever you do to a woman’s body, she’ll love it) become more ingrained into your mentality. You become desensitised and these behaviours are deemed acceptable.
ha! this is pretty sweet!
For the first time in human history, carbon dioxide levels reached an average daily level of 400 parts per million, as reported this week. The last time the atmosphere contained this much carbon dioxide was 3 million years ago.
This new data comes from the Mauna Loa observatory and a set of data continuously collected since 1958: The Keeling curve. This represents almost a 50% increase since the beginning of the industrial age. Although there is some seasonal variability (that little jagged edge) due to seasonal vegetation sucking up a bit of the CO2 every year, the trend is clear … and it’s not good.
So what does that mean? The effects are not something to look forward to. The last time the CO2 level was this high, way back when, here’s what the world was like:
Back then, it was a different world. Global average temperatures during the period were between 5.4 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) higher than today, and sea level was as much as 131 feet (40 meters) higher in some places.
While the average (which is calculated from levels over the past several days) has since dropped back to 399 (as of today), the saddest part is that both of those numbers are unacceptable. 400 is just a little more catchy. With 401 and beyond right around the corner, what now? We must cut emissions as fast as humanly possible.
Because we are mighty humans, and it is possible.
We need to take care, because we all share this air. Read about the science of our CO2 contribution here. Watch this episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart to gain some hope maybe.
What do you think is the #1 thing we can do to change? What are YOU willing to do?
Livin’ on ur plants, harvestin ur sunshine
The ability to gather sunlight and convert it to useable energy has been the plant kingdom’s longstanding trump card (along with some bacteria and fungi) when it comes to “greatest evolutionary adaptation known”. Unlike the rest of the tree of life ,photosynthetic organisms have billions of years worth of free energy to count on. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of solar food. The evolution of the animal world actually wouldn’t have happened if photosynthetic organisms hadn’t started pumping oxygen into our atmosphere in the early years of Earth.
For the first time, scientists have found evidence that an insect shares this ability. Some pea aphids, like the one pictured above, can produce plant-like orange pigments called carotenoids. In addition to chlorophyll, these are the same compounds that leaves use to harvest light, and also why we get those beautiful browns and oranges in autumn.
The aphid seems to have “stolen” the genes from a fungus, and then through some non-photosynthetic mechanism, is using the pigments to create ATP, life’s energy currency.
This isn’t the first time a larger organism has developed the ability to harvest sunlight! A sea slug was discovered a few years ago that borrowed photosynthetic genes from microscopic algae. Looks like the branches on that tree of life cross over more than we thought.
More at Scientific American.
According to a paper published in Nature, 70 per cent of protein-coding human genes are related to genes found in the zebrafish (Danio rerio), and 84 per cent of genes known to be associated with human disease have a zebrafish counterpart.
The team developed a high-quality annotated zebrafish genome sequence to compare with the human reference genome. Only two other large genomes have been sequenced to this high standard: the human genome and the mouse genome. The completed zebrafish genome will be an essential resource that drives the study of gene function and disease in people.
Zebrafish are remarkably biologically similar to people and share the majority of the same genes as humans, making them an important model for understanding how genes work in health and disease.
“Our aim with this project, like with all biomedical research, is to improve human health. This genome will allow researchers to understand how our genes work and how genetic variants can cause disease in ways that cannot be easily studied in humans or other organisms,” said study senior author Dr Derek Stemple of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
Zebrafish research has already led to biological advances in cancer and heart disease research, and is advancing our understanding of muscle and organ development. Zebrafish have been used to verify the causal gene in muscular dystrophy disorders and also to understand the evolution and formation of melanomas or skin cancers.
“The vast majority of human genes have counterparts in the zebrafish, especially genes related to human disease. This high quality genome is testament to the many scientists who worked on this project and will spur biological research for years to come. By modeling these human disease genes in zebrafish, we hope that resources worldwide will produce important biological information regarding the function of these genes and possibly find new targets for drug development,” explained senior author Prof Jane Rogers, also of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
The zebrafish genome has some unique features, not seen in other vertebrates. They have the highest repeat content in their genome sequences so far reported in any vertebrate species: almost twice as much as seen in their closest relative, the common carp. Also unique to the zebrafish, the team identified chromosomal regions that influence sex determination.
The zebrafish genome contains few pseudogenes – genes thought to have lost their function through evolution – compared to the human genome.
The team identified 154 pseudogenes in the zebrafish genome, a fraction of the 13,000 or so pseudogenes found in the human genome.
“To realize the benefits the zebrafish can make to human health, we need to understand the genome in its entirety – both the similarities to the human genome and the differences. Armed with the zebrafish genome, we can now better understand how changes to our genomes result in disease,” said Prof Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, co-author and Nobel laureate from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology.
“This genome will help to uncover the biological processes responsible for common and rare disease and opens up exciting new avenues for disease screening and drug development,” Dr Stemple said.
HOLY COMPARATIVE ANATOMY BATMAN! That’s awesome!
This is what happens when you run water through a 24hz sine wave.
1. Let water flow
2. Add sound
which is cool… but like why?
BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY
The sensation of having a physical body is not as self-evident as one might think. Almost everyone who has had an arm or leg amputated experiences a phantom limb: a vivid sensation that the missing limb is still present. A new study by neuroscientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows that it is possible to evoke the illusion of having a phantom hand in non-amputated individuals.
In an article in the scientific periodical Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, the researchers describe a perceptual illusion in which healthy volunteers experience having an invisible hand. The experiment involves the participant sitting at a table with their right arm hidden from their view behind a screen. To evoke the illusion, the scientist touches the right hand of the participant with a small paintbrush while imitating the exact movements with another paintbrush in mid-air within full view of the participant.
“We discovered that most participants, within less than a minute, transfer the sensation of touch to the region of empty space where they see the paintbrush move, and experience an invisible hand in that position”, says Arvid Guterstam, lead author of the study. “Previous research has shown that non-bodily objects, such as a block of wood, cannot be experienced as ones own hand, so we were extremely surprised to find that the brain can accept an invisible hand as part of the body.”
The study comprises eleven experiments that explore in detail the illusory experience and include 234 volunteers. To demonstrate that the illusion actually worked, the researchers would make a stabbing motion with a knife towards the empty space ‘occupied’ by the invisible hand and measure the participant’s sweat response to the perceived threat. They found that the participants stress responses were elevated while experiencing the illusion but absent when the illusion was broken.
In another experiment, the volunteers were asked to close their eyes and quickly point with their left hand to their right hand (or to where they perceived it to be). After having experienced the illusion for a while, they would point to the location of the invisible hand rather than to their real hand.
The researchers also measured the brain activity of the participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Perceiving the invisible hand illusion led to increased activity in the same parts of the brain that are normally active when individuals see their real hand being touched or when participants experience a prosthetic hand as their own.
“Taken together, our results show that the sight of a physical hand is remarkably unimportant to the brain for creating the experience of one’s physical self,” says Arvid Guterstam.
The researchers hope that the results of their study will offer insight into future research on phantom pain in amputees.
“This illusion suggests that the experience of phantom limbs is not unique to amputated individuals, but can easily be created in non-amputees,” says the principal investigator, Dr Henrik Ehrsson, Docent at the Department of Neuroscience. “These results add to our understanding of how phantom sensations are produced by the brain, which can contribute to future research on alleviating phantom pain in amputees.”
Neuroscience turns into art: painting of the Retina
Neuroscience is my happy place. And with this image in my mind’s eye, I can rest peacefully.
Name that space rock!
A handy guide.
Watch the full video: Blossoming into Science with actress Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik is such an O.N.G. (original nerd-girl)