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Submission + - God, Darwin and My College Biology Class

HughPickens.com writes: David P. Barash, an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington, writes in the NYT that every year he gives his students The Talk, not as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion, and how they get along and how they don’t. According to Barash many students worry about reconciling their beliefs with evolutionary science and just as many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a “theory,” but the underpinning of all biological science, a substantial minority of his students are troubled to discover that their beliefs conflict with the course material. "There are a couple of ways to talk about evolution and religion, says Barash. "The least controversial is to suggest that they are in fact compatible. Stephen Jay Gould called them “nonoverlapping magisteria,” noma for short, with the former concerned with facts and the latter with values." But Barash says magisteria are not nearly as nonoverlapping as some of them might wish. "As evolutionary science has progressed, the available space for religious faith has narrowed: It has demolished two previously potent pillars of religious faith and undermined belief in an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God."

The twofold demolition begins by defeating what modern creationists call the argument from complexity — that just as the existence of a complex structure like a watch demands the existence of a watchmaker, the existence of complex organisms requires a supernatural creator. "Since Darwin, however, we have come to understand that an entirely natural and undirected process, namely random variation plus natural selection, contains all that is needed to generate extraordinary levels of non-randomness. Living things are indeed wonderfully complex, but altogether within the range of a statistically powerful, entirely mechanical phenomenon." Next to go is the illusion of centrality. "The most potent take-home message of evolution is the not-so-simple fact that, even though species are identifiable (just as individuals generally are), there is an underlying linkage among them — literally and phylogenetically, via traceable historical connectedness. Moreover, no literally supernatural trait has ever been found in Homo sapiens; we are perfectly good animals, natural as can be and indistinguishable from the rest of the living world at the level of structure as well as physiological mechanism." Finally there is a third consequence of evolutionary insights: a powerful critique of theodicy, the effort to reconcile belief in an omnipresent, omni-benevolent God with the fact of unmerited suffering. "But just a smidgen of biological insight makes it clear that, although the natural world can be marvelous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator."

Barash concludes The Talk by saying that, although they don’t have to discard their religion in order to inform themselves about biology (or even to pass his course), if they insist on retaining and respecting both, they will have to undertake some challenging mental gymnastic routines. "And while I respect their beliefs, the entire point of The Talk is to make clear that, at least for this biologist, it is no longer acceptable for science to be the one doing those routines."

Submission + - 4chan Imposes DMCA Policy

davidshenba writes: In the wake of leaked private photos of celebrities, 4chan has added Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown policy to its rules and policies. Under this new policy, the site will remove any notified and verified "infringement". It is not clear how effective this could be and how 4chan is going to handle the inflow of notifications or restrict the contents provided by users.

Submission + - Hypersonic Missile Testing Should be Banned Now, Before They Actually Work (thebulletin.org) 1

Lasrick writes: Mark Gubrud has a fascinating piece arguing for the US to lead the way in calling for a ban on the testing of hypersonic missiles, a technology that the US has been developing for decades. China has also started testing these weapons, which proponents optimistically claim would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. Russia, India, and a few other countries are also joining in the fray, so a ban on testing would stop an arms race in its tracks. Good discussion of the two types of hypersonic technology, and whether that technology has civilian applications.

Submission + - Stealing ATM PINs with a cheap infrared camera (youtube.com) 1

cccc828 writes: German tech news website heise.de reports about a video by Mark Rober. It shows how to use a $300 infrared camera for the iPhone to read the residual heat signatures of an ATM. The residual heat signatures allow an attacker to reconstruct the PIN around 80% of the time. While this attack vector is not new, IR cameras used to be both rare and expensive. The best defense against the attack is to simply touch all the keypads keys after making a payment.

Submission + - Slashdot BETA Discussion (slashdot.org) 60

mugnyte writes: With Slashdot's recent restyled "BETA" slowly rolled to most users, there's been a lot of griping about the changes. This is nothing new, as past style changes have had similar effects. However, this pass there are significant usability changes: A narrower read pane, limited moderation filtering, and several color/size/font adjustments. BETA implies not yet complete, so taking that cue — please list your specific, detailed opinoins, one per comment, and let's use the best part of slashdot (the moderation system) to raise the attention to these. Change can be jarring, but let's focus on the true usability differences with the new style.

Submission + - DropBox actively involved in Law Enforcement investigation (wral.com)

Lester67 writes: WRAL-TV reports that a local camp counselor was recently arrested for distribution of child pornography. While "YAY!" an alleged dirtbag is off the streets, it's the manner in which he was busted that raises eyebrows as "Dropbox managers informed the center that one of its users was storing and sharing sexually explicit material..." Was he so active as to set off bandwidth flags, or does DropBox randomly check user contents looking for illegal activity? Furthermore, are those activities as cut and dried as child pornography, or has a long slow slide down a slippery slope begun?

Submission + - eTriage Armbands Could Get Disaster Victims Treated Faster (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: When emergency response crews have to deal with many casualties at once, such as at a disaster site, one of the first things they do is set up a triage system. This involves assessing the severity of each patient's injuries, so that the people who need help most urgently get it first. It's a system that works, but the EU-funded BRIDGE project is trying to make it better. The project partners are developing a new high-tech triage, that incorporates GPS and RFID technology.

Submission + - Former Microsoft Privacy Chief Doesn't Trust Company, Uses Open Source Software (hothardware.com) 1

MojoKid writes: Microsoft's onetime Chief Privacy Advisor, Caspar Bowden, has come out with a vote of no-confidence in the company's long-term privacy measures and ability or interest to secure user data in the wake of the NSA's PRISM program. From 2002 — 2011, Bowden was in charge of privacy at Microsoft, and oversaw the company's efforts in that area in more than 40 countries, but claims to have been unaware of the PRISM program's existence while he worked at the company. In the two years since leaving Microsoft, Bowden has ceased carrying a cell phone and become a staunch open source user, claiming that he no longer trusts a program unless he can see the source.

Submission + - MEGA crowned winner at ANZIA for privacy (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: ANZIA, The Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards, which celebrates achievement of organizations, businesses and individuals for making significant contributions to development and use of Internet in the ANZ region, has crowned MEGA as one of the winners under its privacy category. Congratulating MEGA’s entire team Dotcom tweeted “I like to thank the entire #Mega team for your hard work. We have just won an Internet Award for PRIVACY. Well done!”

Submission + - A new way to fund open source software projects, bug fixes and feature requests

Lemeowski writes: Open source software projects are seeing some success on fundraising sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But Warren Konkel believes open source software needs a better funding model that's more aligned with how software is built. So Konkel, who was the first hire at LivingSocial, teamed up with his friend David Rappo, a producer for games including GuitarHero and Skylander, and founded Bountysource, a crowdfunding and bounty site specifically designed to help developers raise money for thier OSS projects, bug fixes and feature requests. In this interview, Konkel talks about how he recently snagged a $1.1 million investment in Bountysource, gives developers tips on launching a fundraising effort for thier OSS project, and more.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: ethical issues with Freenet (freenetproject.org)

An anonymous reader writes: FreeNet allows one to share any file. No-one can then find out that you shared it (absolute anonymity) and no-one can find out that someone downloads it. Also, while the file "hovers" around the freenet network, it is not possible to find out where it is physically located. This is great for people in oppressive regimes who want to share sensitive information. When I looked 2 years ago what was available (there's an index page), all kinds of interesting information was available. Last friday I checked again and now 95% of it is childporn. This gives me an ethical problem: I would like to support information sharing of people in oppressive regimes but I definitely don't want to support the sharing for childporn! So what should I and we do? Abandon FreeNet? Or does anyone have a bright idea to filter this stuff? (although that would defeat the purpose of FreeNet).

Submission + - Why Is Google Killing The Open Document Formats? (muktware.com)

sfcrazy writes: Google has zero support for Open Document Format across all its products including Android, Chrome OS, Google Drive and QuickOffice. You are forced to use Microsoft's OOXML. I am left with puzzling questions why is Google not supporting ODF and locking users into an incompatible and vendor-locked OOXML format? Will Google endorse open standards and Open Document Formats or its users will be forced to use Microsoft's OOXML? I

Submission + - "Authentication chip" found in Apple's Lightning Cable (slashgear.com)

Chewbacon writes: Looking for a third-party charger for your iPhone 5? AppleInsider says hold off on buying one. A tear-down of the Lightning cable, the new connector introduced with the iPhone 5, reveals an "authentication chip" which may render third-party cables useless. Many people buy these third-party cables to avoid the Apple premium, but Apple has decided to literally block the competition from charging their latest iDevice. How is this not an antitrust issue?

Submission + - French weekly fuels Mohammad row with nude cartoons (reuters.com) 1

PolygamousRanchKid writes: A French magazine ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday by portraying him naked in cartoons, threatening to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depicting him as a womanizing buffoon. The French government, which had urged the magazine not to print the images, said it was temporarily shutting down premises including embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday, when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers.

"We have the impression that it's officially allowed for Charlie Hebdo to attack the Catholic far-right but we cannot poke fun at fundamental Islamists," Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who drew the front-page cartoon, said. "It shows the climate — everyone is driven by fear, and that is exactly what this small handful of extremists who do not represent anyone want — to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave," he told Reuters.

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