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Evolution Storytellers Unrepentant

first_imgEvolutionists have been criticized for telling “just-so stories”1 for decades and decades, even by other evolutionists (see 08/08/2010), yet the storytelling continues, as recent examples in the news media illustrate.Blame Mom:  In its “Science News” category, Science Daily trumpeted the headline, “Acting Selfish?  Blame Your Mother!”  In the article, we are told, “The fact that our female ancestors dispersed more than our male ancestors can lead to conflicts within the brain that influence our social behaviour, new research reveals.”  And what did the Oxford scientists use for evidence?  Very little: “They found that because, historically, women moved about more than men, and so are less related to their neighbours, our paternal and maternal genes are in conflict over how we should behave – with our paternal genes encouraging us to be altruistic whilst our maternal genes encourage us to be selfish.”  Before now, you may have thought that men tended to be the wanderers, or the more selfish.  Not according to this evidence-deprived tale.  The scientists did not prove a relationship between any gene and selfishness, or between any gene and any behavior, for that matter – even less that Mom’s genes are more selfish than Dad’s.    Oxford zoologist Andy Gardner went further.  He even evolved the proverbial cartoon demon and angel on the shoulder: “This leads to conflicts over social behaviour: the genes you receive from your father are telling you to be kind to your neighbours, whereas the genes you receive from your mother, like a demon sat on your shoulder, try to make you act selfishly.”  Gardner did not consult his mother for her opinion on this story.  Maybe she would have cast her husband in the demon role.    Science Daily printed this story without any critical analysis whatsoever, basically just regurgitating a press release from the University of Oxford that, curiously, illustrated the theory with a contrived photo of a demon and an angel on a hapless man’s shoulders, whose expression suggests he is a witless dupe of conflicting genetic voices in his brain.  Apparently, the Oxford team did not apply their theory to their own motivations for writing the story in the first place.Thank Mom:  Redeeming dear mother, New Scientist gave some hairy ape-mom of past eons appreciation for bequeathing us with large brains.  Michael Marshall wrote, “Thank mothers for large ape brains.”    For evidence, he cited a study by two London profs who compared brain size with metabolic rate for hundreds of marsupials and placental mammals (we are the placental type).  “Placental babies are connected to their mothers via the placenta for a long time,” Vera Weisbecker [U of Cambridge] explained, conveniently failing to explain why inside connections are superior to outside connections like a pouch and a nipple.  From there she launched a story: “So if she has a high metabolic rate, the baby is more likely to benefit.”  Those poor kangaroos and wallabies are left behind as big-brain wannabees.    Marshall continued, “By contrast, marsupial babies are born while they are still very small, then spend a long time feeding off their mothers’ milk – a slower way to grow a large brain,” he said without providing a graph of lactation vs brain development.  “Placentas offer a continuous supply of rich nutrients” he said, without providing a table of comparative nutrient richness of placentals vs marsupials.    Problem: not all nutrient-enriched placental mammals have big brains.  “However, the pair found no difference in the average brain sizes of marsupials and placental mammals – as long as they excluded primates,” Marshall admitted.  The placental-vs-marsupial distinction appears to have just dropped out of the story as irrelevant.  Solution: change the plot.  “These, it seem [sic], got their disproportionately large brains from a double maternal boost.  They are supplied with large amounts of energy by their mothers during gestation, and then receive additional months or even years of care after birth.”  Funny the kangaroos never thought of that.  Doesn’t Dad get any credit?How the animal got its personality:  Whenever an evolutionary story begins with “How… ” there is a risk of sounding like Kipling’s “How the Camel Got Its Hump.”  New Scientist published its latest entry in, “How animals evolved personalities.”  Notice that the question was switched from “Did personalities evolve?” to “how did they evolve?”    Max Wolf at the Max Planck Institute took up the story.  For evidence, he played video games: he “created simple simulated animals with personalities that were either consistently aggressive or meek, or flipped between the two.”  Presumably he applied a little intelligent design to do this – maybe even a little moral judgment.    As Wolf took his sim-lambs and sim-wolves and pitted the aggressives against the meeks, the latter did not inherit the sim-Earth, “until Wolf introduced a new one that could learn about the behavioural patterns of others.”  Without explaining the evolution of learning, he found that was the “Aha!” moment.  “‘Learners’ and those with a consistent personality wiped out animals whose behaviour was not consistent.”  Well, it’s all about survival of the fittest, not consistency, you know.    But modern evolutionists are a kinder, gentler bunch.  They view cooperation as Darwin’s fairy godmother.  “These types together formed a more stable society because the learners could adjust their behaviour to that of the others, and so avoid costly conflict,” the article ended.  “The study shows that sociality could be a strong factor in the evolution of personality differences, says Sasha Dall of the University of Exeter, UK.”  A strong factor?  Are there others?How the leader got his authority:  Appropriately, Anjana Ahuja”s article on “The natural selection of leaders” in New Scientist begins, “Imagine this.”  From then on, imagination is the key to her story: “In our new book, Mark van Vugt at VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and I propose that leadership and followership behaviours can be traced to the earliest days of our species,” she said, having observational access only to living populations, not those in the earliest days.  “Given that all human groupings – be they nations, gangs or cults – have leaders and followers, and that these behaviours appear spontaneous, our thesis is that leadership and followership are adaptive behaviours.”  If evolution is the only game in town, that follows naturally: they are adaptive, not subject to moral assessment.    And what evidence does Ahuja provide to prove her proposition?  Evolution itself: “In other words, they are behaviours that evolved to give our ancestors a survival advantage (our book’s title, Selected, reflects the role natural selection plays in leadership).”  Since she and her colleague observe modern people groups often selecting leaders from the bottom up, they assume that ancient primitive humans, and even other animals, found this kind of selection “natural” or advantageous for survival.    The plot permits some corollary sub-plots.  Since she sees many modern leaders being tall (a photo of Barack Obama stands alongside the article, with the caption, “Was he born for the job?”), she projects tallness as a survival advantage selected for in primitive human populations.  She sees modern leaders (like Obama and Putin) being fitness buffs, and projects that brawn was selected over brain by cavemen.  Strangely, she did not evaluate how Kim Jong Il ever became leader of North Korea.    It would seem that if this is the way evolution made us, we should just go with the flow.  “That is not to say that workplaces should become havens of primitivism,” she cautioned, however.  Backpedaling a little from the implications, she found room for us thinking machines to overrule our Darwinian urges.  “Evolution might have bestowed on us an instinctive suspicion of leaders who are short, female or who belong to a different tribe (skin colour is an obvious badge of belonging), but we need to ask whether such prejudices belong in today’s interconnected world, in which citizens of all colours and religions need to rub along.”  Why would evolved machines ever wish to do such a thing?    From there, she got preachy, implying that humans “should” contradict our evolutionary heritage: “Perhaps the most important take-home message in our book is that there is a mismatch between the way we lead and follow today, and the way our ancestors operated.”  Fortunately for us, her just-so story provides “insights into our recent past [that] may help improve things.”  To be consistent, though, it would seem that evolution improved things on its own for a long time without our needing to intervene with immaterial things like design, plan, conscious thought, ethics, and leadership training.Science is supposed to explain things with reference to natural laws and observable, repeatable evidence, not vacuous appeals to the Stuff Happens Law (09/22/2009) and imaginary scenarios that amount to tall tales.  Only rarely do any of these articles in the popular science media criticize the ideas as just-so stories.  That’s because many of them simply reprint press releases from the universities and research centers that have a vested interest in making their scientists not look stupid.1.  The essence of an evolutionary “just-so story” is its arbitrariness, lack of evidence, lack of critical analysis, and lack of consideration of alternative explanations.  Named for the silly “Just-So Stories” Rudyard Kipling wrote for children, just-so stories are made-up tales to explain the origin of any trait in the living world, assuming evolution produced it.  As such, they are a form of circular reasoning: “Evolution produced this trait, which illustrates how evolution produces traits.”Who could forget Richard Lewontin’s memorable candor when he said, “We take the side of science” [read: Darwinism] “in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, … in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism” (see full quote in the Baloney Detector under Subjectivity).    The situation is analogous, maybe even homologous, with state-controlled media like Pravda, in the height of the communist dictatorship, with its prior commitment to Marxism, interpreting world events in the light of class struggles, and glorifying the progress of the regime while conveniently overlooking the failures (like millions starved because of Lysenko-driven artificial famines).  How about a bloodless coup?  “Mr. Darwin, tear down this wall!”(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Motter to lead United Soybean Board

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) board member John Motter was elected this week to lead the national United Soybean Board as its 26th chair. He previously served on the USB executive committee as vice chair and treasurer and has been a board member for eight years. This is the first time since USB was created in 1991 that an Ohio farmer has been elected chair.John Motter“We’d like to congratulate John on his new leadership position,” said Terry McClure, OSC chairman and soybean farmer from Paulding County. “John has an excellent leadership track record both here in Ohio and nationally. His work ethic will undoubtedly benefit all U.S. soybean farmers.”John farms soybeans and corn in Jenera, Ohio. In addition to his position with USB, he serves on the OSC Board of Trustees, where he has held the position of Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. John is also a member of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, previously served on the State Extension Advisory Board, and has been an active leader on the Hancock County Fair Board.Other farmer leaders from around the country elected to the Executive Committee include Lewis Bainbridge, Vice Chair, South Dakota; Jimmy Sneed, Secretary, Mississippi; Keith Tapp, Treasurer, Kentucky; Mike Beard, Indiana; John Dodson, Tennessee; Nancy Kavazanjian, Wisconsin; Jim Carroll, Arkansas; Dan Farney, Illinois; and Gregg Fujan, Nebraska.last_img read more

Proprietary Hadoop Is A Losing Strategy

first_imgSteps to Building a Successful and Scalable Sal… Tags:#Big Data#Cloudera#EMC#Greenplum#Hadoop#MIke Olson#Open Source#proprietary software Related Posts Matt Asay Hadoop, nearly synonymous with Big Data, has many failings. But open source is not one of them. In fact, Hadoop’s open-source license remains one of its biggest draws, giving enterprises plenty of reasons to persevere in using it despite its shortcomings. It’s therefore hard to see how EMC’s new Pivotal HD, essentially a proprietary distribution of Hadoop, can hope to succeed.Not that everyone agrees with this statement.Dan Woods, CTO and editor of CITO Research and a contributor to Forbes, argues that embedding Hadoop into EMC Greenplum’s massively parallel processing (MPP) database (HAWQ) offers CIOs and CTOs the simplicity they need to be successful with Hadoop. He has a point: Hadoop is complex and somewhat hard to use, which is why Cloudera CEO Mike Olson has argued that most of the world will experience the power of Hadoop through applications, nearly all of which will be proprietary, I might add.But Olson’s argument differs from Woods’ argument in at at least one major way: Pivotal HD is enterprise infrastructure, not an application, and enterprise infrastructure is increasingly open source.There are plenty of reasons for this, but RethinkDB’s Alex Popescu nails one critical factor:Hadoop is so successful despite its complexity [because i]t allows experimenting and trying out new ideas, while continuing to accumulate and storing your data. It removes the pressure from the developers. That’s agility. It’s highly appreciated.In other words, a big reason for Hadoop’s success is its open-source license, which permits a hefty amount of experimentation without having to get an enterprise license from EMC, Oracle, or any of the other incumbent infrastructure vendors.  EMC’s Scott Yara tries to deflect criticism of its proprietary foray into Hadoop by declaring “We’re all in on Hadoop, period,” but as 451 Research analyst Matt Aslett counters, “I have no doubt that EMC Greenplum is ‘all in’ on Pivotal HD, but that’s not the same thing at all.”Take this away by building a proprietary Hadoop distribution, and EMC has basically erased the very thing that made Hadoop workloads proliferate in the first place. EMC also cuts itself out of the standard adoption cycle for Hadoop, as Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady suggests, “Certainly there will be customers whose needs will dictate the adoption of a unique solution like Pivotal HD, but how many will that be relative to the segment whose adoption cycle begins with the download of one of the free Hadoop distributions?”Today, Hadoop is one of the industry’s hottest job trends. Even in absolute job numbers, it’s about to pass EMC-related job posts:Enterprises aren’t hiring for EMC’s brand of Hadoop. They’re hiring for the open source Hadoop. This matters.Perhaps EMC feels that Hadoop’s brand is big enough now that enterprises essentially understand it and are ready to move on from experimentation to full-scale adoption. In this EMC is likely to be disappointed. According to recent IBM survey data, only 6% of enterprises have two or more Big Data projects underway (likely, though not explicitly, involving Hadoop in some way), and a mere 22% are running pilots to test the efficacy of their Big Data strategies. Everyone else is in full-on planning mode.By creating a proprietary Hadoop distribution, EMC just dramatically limited its access to the 94% that are still in Big Data education and trial mode. Yes, it has a gargantuan sales force. No, they’re simply not going to be able to reach would-be customers as efficiently as an open-source distribution model does.But maybe EMC hasn’t gone proprietary to more effectively monetize Hadoop interest, and instead sincerely believes, like Woods (“open source development has its limits“), that complex infrastructure problems are a poor match for open source. History has not been kind to such thinking, as Aslett sarcastically implies:EMC has seemingly bottomless resources to throw at Hadoop, and every incentive to do so. It’s a smart, highly successful company and no doubt will prove successful with Pivotal HD. However, I can’t see it ever dominating an open-source infrastructure market with a proprietary distribution. Open source is the foundation for today’s most interesting markets, from Big Data to mobile to cloud computing. It’s unlikely that EMC will somehow stem this tide with a proprietary product, no matter its short-term performance or functionality advantages.center_img How to Manage Remote Sales Teams Crucial Online Reputation Management Insights i… How Do You Determine Which Partners Will Fuel Y…last_img read more

RW10: A Decade Of Spotting The Future Taking Form

first_imgReadWrite celebrates its 10th anniversary on Saturday, April 20, 2013. For the occasion, we’re running a series of articles  looking back—and looking forward.Ten years ago, I published the first post on this weblog. Entitled simply “The Read/Write Web,” it was a manifesto of sorts. The first era of the Web, from the 1990s to the early 2000s, had been largely read-only. It was stuck in the old broadcast model: professionals published the content, the rest of us merely read it.But in 2002 and 2003, I could sense that a sea change was near. Tools were being developed that empowered everyone—including me—to publish to the Web.“The goal now is to convert the Web into a two-way system,” I wrote in that debut post. “Ordinary people should be able to write to the Web, just as easily as they can browse and read it.”ReadWrite’s Predictive PowersWell, that goal was well and truly achieved! While nobody could have predicted in 2003 the scale of innovation that would occur, I’m proud that over the years ReadWrite did predict many technologies that people take for granted today.For example, I remember writing a lot about the Web Office over the first five years of this blog. In our end-of-year predictions post in 2006, I wrote: “The consumerization of the enterprise trend will start to infiltrate corporate IT, in the form of Web-based office apps and more collaborative systems.” Scan your typical office in 2013 and you will see Google Docs, corporate versions of Twitter, Evernote Business, and many more applications that came from the consumer world.Also look at the rise of Amazon Web Services, a cloud-computing platform from the online retailer that was well ahead of its time and which we wrote about extensively (mostly thanks to Alex Iskold, one of our earliest feature writers).Our 2006 predictions post stated:“We also think there will be moves toward an Amazon-like web services stack from other players, particularly Google. For example Google may want to catch up with Amazon’s S3 – EC2 services. And where Google goes, you can expect Microsoft to go too.”Since 2006, not only have Google and Microsoft created cloud-computing platforms, but so have Apple, Oracle, HP, Rackspace and many other companies.I’m also proud that ReadWrite wrote about some trends long before they became popular. For example, The Internet of Things—when real-world objects get connected to the Internet. ReadWrite was the only tech blog exploring that trend back in 2009, when only a few brave developers and startups were building consumer products. Fast forward to 2013 and the market for Internet-connected cars, thermostats, security systems, watches and other real-world objects is thriving.A Decade of Astounding InnovationIn April 2003, I was an unknown 31-year old website manager from New Zealand, about as far away from Silicon Valley as you can get. I may not have been in the right place, but I was certainly at the right time. Over the next ten years, I got to explore and help chronicle the emergence of first the Social Web (2003-2005), then the Mobile Web (2007-2008)—arguably the two biggest waves of technology innovation over the past decade.ReadWrite has witnessed—and written about—the creation of many revolutionary technologies:MySpace, the first mass-market social network, launched in August 2003.Flickr, which became the leading photo-sharing website of the era, launched in February 2004.Facebook launched to Harvard students in February 2004 and eventually opened to the wider public in September 2006.YouTube, the video-sharing phenomenon, opened as a beta site in May 2005.Twitter was created in 2006 and had its first tipping point in March 2007 at SXSW.The iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs in January 2007.Google announced its open-source mobile operating system, Android, in November 2007.Apple launched the App Store in July 2008.The first Android phone, the HTC Dream, was released in October 2008.The iPad was released in April 2010.Google+ launched in June 2011.Here’s To The Next Decade!When I started ReadWrite in 2003, the Web was primarily about what was happening on your home computer. And as outlined above, a lot of innovation happened in that era of the Web—Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and more.But today, the Internet is everywhere. As Owen Thomas wrote in his introductory post as ReadWrite’s new editor-in-chief, the Internet is now in our pockets, on our bodies, scattered around the physical world. So I’m thrilled that the blog I founded will chronicle this new era of the Read/Write Web—a world where everything is read/write.Photo composite by Madeleine Weiss. richard macmanus Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#ReadWrite#Richard MacManus#RW10#ten last_img read more

10 months agoMan Utd academy chief Butt reveals loan plans for youngsters

first_imgMan Utd academy chief Butt reveals loan plans for youngstersby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United academy chief Nicky Butt has revealed plans to release several of their youth teamers for loan next month.Butt, expects some members of his Under-19 squad to depart on loan during the January transfer window, despite the promise of playing knockout games in the UEFA Youth League in March. He said of the forthcoming loan market, “It will affect the Under-19s [as a team]. But if you ask any Manchester United fan or Ed [Woodward] or the owners or the manager, they want players in the first team. That’s my job. That’s the job of the Academy coaches – to get players in the first team. If you can win competitions as well, that’s the best thing you can do.”Is it good to have some players just waiting for an Under-19s game to come along? No. So we are looking to get players out on loan to develop them so they come back better players and better people for our club, with a real chance on playing on the biggest stage in the world.”Butt continued: “We see January as a changeover of the guard if you like. “A lot more players will be pushing up to the Reserves and the youth team will be made up more regularly of first-year scholars.“They will be starting more regularly in the youth team and players will be going out on loan. But, yeah, we plan – we don’t just pick it out of the air.””“We make plans for a year, 18 months or two years for players and we believe it’s the right way to do things.” TagsTransfersLoan MarketAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Clemson Football Coach Dabo Swinney Also Believes Notre Dame Should Be In A Conference To Be Playoff Eligible

first_imgDabo Swinney hitting The Whip on a boat.Dabo Swinney WhipAs we make it through college football media days and the various ESPN “car washes” that follow, Notre Dame’s independent status has become a hot topic of conversation once again. Last week, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel argued that the Fighting Irish should be forced into joining a league within a year. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney agrees: either Notre Dame should join a league with a conference championship, or adopt a 13 game schedule.Dabo Swinney agrees w/Gary Pinkel: “Absolutely Notre Dame needs to be in conference or play 13 games to be in @CFBPlayoff“— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 27, 2015Swinney’s not the only high-profile ACC coach to think this.Paul Johnson: “Notre Dame should be in the ACC. It’s another brand program to strengthen the conference.”— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 27, 2015The ACC obviously has a lot to gain from Notre Dame, if it ever committed fully to joining a conference. With the current scheduling arrangement between the Fighting Irish and the league, the ACC is currently the most logical landing spot for Notre Dame football. Adding Notre Dame would be a big boost to the ACC football brand, which lags behind the other power conferences when it comes to perceived strength.last_img read more

How To Find The Best Soccer Matches Of The Week

On any given week during peak soccer season, FiveThirtyEight offers projections for dozens of club soccer matches across the globe. The sheer volume of matches taking place this time of year can be paralyzing. With that in mind, we’ve added a feature to our club soccer predictions that rates upcoming matches on their quality and importance. You can use this page to pick a few good ones to be sure not to miss.This week’s biggest match — rated an overall 96 out of 100 — is today’s Champions League round of 16 first leg between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. This is a bit of a no-brainer — it features Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo leading the second- and third-best teams in the world against each other in a high-stakes clash. But there are some other good matches to watch: Borussia Dortmund and Atalanta — two of the best eight remaining teams in the Europa League — play each other on Thursday in the round of 32. If we dig deeper, Empoli and Parma — two teams fighting for promotion and the league title at the top of a very tight Italian Serie B — play each other Saturday. And Manchester United plays Chelsea on Feb. 25 in the Premier League in what is a pivotal match for Champions League qualification. Here’s how we calculate our match ratings:Quality is simply a measure of how good the teams are. Specifically, it’s the harmonic mean of the two teams’ Soccer Power Index ratings. (We’re using the harmonic mean instead of merely averaging the two ratings because in lopsided matches it limits the impact of very high or low ratings, resulting in a more balanced number.) Because every team has an SPI rating between 0 and 100, our match quality stat also ranges from 0 to 100.Importance is a measure of how much the outcome of the match will affect our forecast for how likely the two teams are to win the league, or be relegated or promoted, among other things. To calculate it, we generate probabilities conditional on each team winning the match and then find the difference between those two possible numbers.We consider different factors depending on which league the match is being played in. For some leagues, our forecasts cover winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League, for example.We take a weighted average of the change in each applicable factor and scale the result to between 0 and 100. All leagues are treated equally when calculating importance, so a match to decide the winner of the Swedish Allsvenskan would rate just as high as a match to decide the winner of the English Premier League.The overall match rating is just the average of quality and importance.Visit our club soccer predictions to explore the ratings of all the upcoming matches yourself. read more

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