Thursday, October 22, 2020

A few more things about dietetics

In a previous post I questioned that dietetics is a science, because it seems to follow quite often what can be considered alternatives of fashion, and I gave some examples. In this article I’m going to add a few more, along with a general consideration.
  • The expiration date of yogurts. A few years ago, there were several books published and speeches made, asserting that yogurt should never be eaten just one day after its expiration date. Of course, no expired food should ever be used to help poor people. However, any quality expert knows that expiration dates always include a safety margin that can sometimes be quite long (days, weeks, or even months). Therefore, some kinds of very recently expired food are probably within that safety margin and can be eaten without problems. Not to mention the fact that there are products (such as yogurts) that don’t need an expiration date, as their substance is not spoiled, even though it may lose nutritional or flavor properties. This is why lately, in this type of products, there is no longer talk of an expiration date, but of a preferred consumption date.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Timeline

Poster of the film based on Timeline
In 1999, Michael Crichton published his novel Timeline, a typical science fiction novel about time travel, whose plot can be summarized as follows:
A research company has developed a procedure to travel into the past. Using it, they sent to 14th century France, in the midst of the 100 Years War, a history professor who is conducting archaeological studies in ruins near the medieval fortress of La Roque. His collaborators, who do not know what is happening, find among the ruins a call for help from the professor, which when subjected to carbon-14 dating turns out to come from the 14th century. Picked up by the company that sponsors their studies, they are sent into the past to save the professor, who cannot return on his own.
In another post in this blog, I discussed the paradoxes that can be caused by traveling into the past, and various procedures invented by scientists and writers to escape them. In the novel, Crichton mentions two:

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Equality or absurdity?

Read in Science News, issue of September 26 2020:

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin. Carolus Linnaeus. Gregor Mendel. They’re all men. They’re all white. And their names appear in every biology book included in a recent analysis of college textbooks. According to the survey, mentions of white men still dominate biology textbooks despite growing recognition of the scientific contributions of women and people of color.

The good news, the researchers say: Scientists in textbooks are getting more diverse. The bad news: If diversification continues at its current pace, it will take another 500 years for mentions of Black scientists to accurately reflect the number of Black college biology students.

This article is one more example of the tyranny of political correctness and the degree of madness or folly in our society. That a serious high-profile magazine like Science News also makes these blunders shows that the situation is rapidly degenerating. So fast, that it is possible that I may well see the total collapse of our civilization, which I believed would take place long after my death.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

A Singular Universe

Javier Sánchez Cañizares is one of the contributors to the book Preguntas sobre Ciencia y Fe, published in 2014 and republished this year. In 2020, Javier has published a book in Spanish with the same title as this post, which can be considered as a book on philosophy of science at a high level of popularization. The goal of the book is to show that materialistic reductionism has no chance of providing a correct complete explanation, as our universe is singular because of several different reasons:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Are we on our way to Soylent Green?


In 1973, the American film director Richard Fleischer released the film Soylent Green, based on the 1966 science-fiction novel Make room! Make room! written by Harry Harrison, although there are quite a few differences between the book and its film adaptation. This dystopian film describes a future society (it’s supposed to happen in the year 2022, i.e. just now) where there is a very serious problem of overpopulation (New York alone is inhabited by 40 million people), which leads to a huge food shortage.
The Soylent Company, which appears in the film's title, centralizes the production of food obtained from concentrated vegetables, and markets them under names that depend on their color: Soylent yellow, Soylent red and Soylent green. Every time this last product is put up for sale, there is an avalanche of buyers, many of whom cannot acquire it, because stocks are quickly depleted.
The protagonist of the film (represented by Charlton Heston) is a New York City policeman who lives with his assistant, an older ex-professor (Edward G. Robinson), who investigates the murder of one of the top managers of the Soylent Company and discovers that the Soylent green product is made by recycling meat from human corpses. To prove to his friend that what he says is true, he submits to voluntary euthanasia and orders him to follow his corpse. Thus the protagonist discovers that all the corpses are transferred to the Soylent company facilities, where they are converted into Soylent Green. But when Heston tries to make public his macabre discovery, he is attacked and badly wounded, while the public ignores his warnings.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mind and Cosmos

Thomas Nagel

Thomas Nagel, philosopher, professor at New York University and specialized in the philosophy of mind, has published a book (Mind and Cosmos) where he summarizes his argumentation against materialist reductionism, dominant in philosophy since the mid-nineteenth century. I have read the book in a Spanish translation made by the Seville professor Francisco Rodríguez Valls, with whom I have collaborated more than once.
The book provides strong arguments in support of the claim that materialistic reductionism cannot explain conscience, reason, and other mental elements without explaining them away. But since conscience and reason are the dominant elements of our worldview, the conclusion we should arrive at is that materialistic reductionism must be false.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Dunning-Kruger effect

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Follow him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep. Wake him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is ignorant. Teach him.
He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.
This anonymous text is well known. It is generally presented as an Arab or Persian proverb, sometimes as a Chinese proverb, and is even mistakenly attributed to Confucius, as what is written in Analects 17:3 is different. The Dunning-Kruger effect, which refers to a study published in 1999 by these two authors in a journal of the American Psychological Association, could be considered as an experimental study on the first and last lines of the proverb.
To identify the effect that bears their name, Dunning and Kruger conducted and analyzed, with psychology students, a set of tests related to intellectual and social activities in fields such as humor, grammar and logic. They then asked the participants to self-evaluate, by answering the following three questions: