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+ - It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience into the Science Classroom

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "“Roughly one in three American adults believes in telepathy, ghosts, and extrasensory perception,” wrote a trio of scientists in a 2012 issue of the Astronomy Education Review. “Roughly one in five believes in witches, astrology, clairvoyance, and communication with the dead (PDF). Three quarters hold at least one of these beliefs, and a third has four distinct pseudoscientific beliefs.” Now Steven Ross Pomeroy writes in Forbes Magazine that it’s time to bring pseudoscience into public schools and universities. “By incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures, instructors can provide students with the tools needed to understand the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific or paranormal claims,” say Rodney Schmaltz and Scott Lilienfeld.

According to Schmaltz and Lilienfeld, there are 7 clear signs that show something to be pseudoscientific: 1. The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner. 2. A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence. 3. Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence. 4. Claims which cannot be proven false. 5. Claims that counter established scientific fact. 6. Absence of adequate peer review. 7. Claims that are repeated despite being refuted. Schmaltz and Lilienfeld recommend incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures and contrasting them with legitimate, groundbreaking scientific findings. For example, professors can expound upon psychics and the tricks they use to fool people or use resources such as the Penn & Teller program "Bullshit".

But teachers need to be careful or their worthy efforts to instill critical thinking could backfire. Prior research has shown that repeating myths on public fliers, even with the intention of dispelling them, can actually perpetuate misinformation. “The goal of using pseudoscientific examples is to create skeptical, not cynical, thinkers. As skeptical thinkers, students should be urged to remain open-minded,” say Schmaltz and Lilienfeld. "By directly addressing and then refuting non-scientific claims, science educators can dispel pseudoscience (PDF) and promote scientific skepticism, while avoiding the unhealthy extremes of either uncritical acceptance or cynicism.""

+ - SPAM: Meet an alien? No. Talk to one? Maybe

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Even in the last month general relativity has added another success to its already impressive list of successful predictions — with evidence of gravity waves. That surely means we are never likely to physically meet an alien — travel is just too slow or too difficult. But what if we could communicate instantly across any distance? That just might be possible."
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+ - SPAM: Why people play Candy Crush

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The reason people play Candy Crush seems to be that it is so difficult: in fact it has been proved that the problems faced by players are in the "NP" class, meaning — probably — that no algorithmic solution is known a priori and so the way you get to be good is by improving your heuristic sense — but still there is no way you can become a "perfect" player and so there is always room for improvement."
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+ - Scottish independence campaign battles over BBC Weather forecast->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The political battle over Scotland's independence ballot — to take place in September this year — has now moved on to how the BBC project the UK on their national weather forecast. The BBC use a projection based on the view of Britain from geostationary weather satellites and so there is naturally some foreshortening at the northern end of Britain (Scotland, in other words). But nationalist campaigners say this means Scottish viewers are constantly being shown a distorted image of their country which makes it look smaller and hence (in their view) less able to support independence. In response others have suggested that the nationalists are truly "flat earthers"."
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+ - Beware of the Black Death->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The idea of a plague breakout in an advanced economy feels like something relegated to the world of shlock movies or bad science fiction, but new evidence from the sequencing of the Yersinia pestis bacterium that killed victims of the sixth century "Plague of Justinian" (which is widely seen to have led to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West) shows that it is of a different strain to that which caused the plagues of the 14th and 19th century — suggesting that a novel form of plague could break out and cause mass deaths."
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+ - Astrology: the celebrated anti-science->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Imagine if a novel that celebrated creationism won the Pulitzer? A scandal surely...meanwhile in the UK our top literary prize (open to Commonwealth and Irish authors writing in English) has gone to a book that celebrates astrology and which is written by an author who offers up psycobabble defences of astrology's truth. Seems to me that British distain for US arguments about anti-science is misplaced and we ought to focus a bit more on the way anti-science is promoted over here."
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+ - Read better books to be a better person-> 1

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Researchers from the New School for Social Research in New York have demonstrated that if you read quality literary fiction you become a better person, in the sense that you are more likely to emphasise with others. Presumably we can all think of books that have changed the way we feel about the world — so this is, in a sense, a scientific confirmation of something fairly intuitive."
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+ - Newest YouTube user to fight a takedown is copyright guru Lawrence Lessig->

Submitted by onehitwonder
onehitwonder (1118559) writes "Lawrence Lessig has teamed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to sue Liberation Music, which recently demanded that YouTube take down a lecture Lessig had posted that features clips from the song "Lisztomania" by the French band Phoenix (on Liberation Music's label). Liberation claimed copyright infringement as the reason it demanded the takedown, but in his countersuit, Lessig is claiming Liberation's "overly aggressive takedown violates the DMCA and that it should be made to pay damages," according to Ars Technica."
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+ - "Please refuse our delivery," advice from Amazon ->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Amazon seem to devolve so little power and authority to their customer service staff that they are left to make recommendations to customers that both hurt Amazon's business — by piling up additional costs — and leave customers (this one at least) just as unhappy as before. In my case they stated that the only way I could get an international order correctly charged to my gift card, as opposed to my credit card, was to refuse delivery, have the goods returned and then place a new order. Surely an IT company can have better systems than this?"
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+ - Saving Rupert Murdoch's job

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "The Telegraph is reporting that Rupert Murdoch is threatening to shut down his entire British newspaper operation in an effort to protect the rest of his empire.

The Telegraph revealed last week that the Metropolitan Police is now treating News UK, the newspaper corporation, as a corporate suspect in its investigations of alleged hacking and bribery at the News of the World. ...

...However, the potential case would “go away” altogether if the company News UK ceased to exist, in the same way as the CPS cannot press charges against a person who has died.

Neil Chenoweth suggests that this is nonsense.

News Corp & 21st Fox are separate companies they can't protect each other without shareholder suit

This is really about saving Rupert Murdoch's job.

For while Murdoch himself is not the target, the consequences of charging News International as opposed to charging News International directors including Rupert Murdoch himself may be indistinguishable—they would both spell the end of his control of at least the greater part of his split empire, 21st Century Fox.

Currently the odds seem to be against either of these things happening, but Murdoch must bitterly regret the comments he made to Sun journalists in March.

"

+ - Encryption not quite as secure as we thought->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Encryption schemes are probably not quite as secure as has been previously thought — not because of the NSA but because source word behaviour does not follow the previously assumed patterns and so entropy in the coded message is not as high as expected, report researchers at the National University of Ireland and MIT.
That lack of entropy gets reflected in the encoded message as patterns of code and so makes it easier to find brute force cracks of the encrypted message.
The threat to real world encrypted messages is probably quite low — but it would not be the first time that a small chink in the armour is revealed to be a massive gash after a bit more work!"

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+ - Crowdsourcing comes to fundamental physics->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Crowdsourcing seems set to play a key role in a piece of fundamental physics research — into the nature of gravity — after an initial successful test of the concept by particle physicists at CERN.
Physicists seeking to measure the impact of gravity on anti-matter particles asked the public, on 16 August, to assist them in finding and marking cloud chamber tracks produced as part of the AEgIS experiment into how anti-matter accelerates under gravity.
The conventional assumption is that matter and anti-matter behave the same way under gravity, but AEgIS aims to demonstrate the truth or otherwise of this assumption. As gravity is poorly understood — though we do know our theory of it, Einstein's general relativity, is incompatible with quantum physics — the experiment could be of huge value to our understanding of the physical fundamentals of the universe.
It is expected that there will be further calls for public assistance as the scientists develop the crowd sourcing software and move towards a public beta. Bad news: maximum number of people who can share a nobel prize is three!"

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+ - English High Court bans scientific paper->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The High Court — England's highest civil court — has temporarily banned the publication of a scientific paper that would reveal the details of a zero day vulnerability in vehicle immobilisers and, crucially, give details of how to crack the system. Motor manufacturers argued that revealing the details of the crack would allow criminals to steal cars. Could this presage the courts getting involved in what gets posted on your local Bugzilla? It certainly means that software giants who dislike security researchers publishing the full facts on vulnerabilities might want to consider a full legal route."
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The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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