Sunday, June 28, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Donald Hoffman on Evolution Favoring Inaccurate Perceptions

His examples of inaccurate perceptions in animal kingdom are not illustrations of nature selecting the fit, but of killing the unfit. "Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is?" He does not offer empirical evidence for the answer, "no", and I don't know of any examples.

A better question is this, "with all the ways natural selection has of choosing inaccurate perceptions, why should we expect it to choose accurate perceptions?"

It goes along with, "with all the ways natural selection has of choosing irrationality, why should we expect it to choose rationality?"

When we treat evolution like it isn't based on accurate perceptions or rationality, we treat evolution not as theory but as something sacred. So when evolution kills rationality or accurate perceptions, with what is evolution being treated?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More Evidence against Organic

Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, study finds

After analyzing the data, the researchers found little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods. No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products, and only one nutrient — phosphorus — was significantly higher in organic versus conventionally grown produce (and the researchers note that because few people have phosphorous deficiency, this has little clinical significance). There was also no difference in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk, though evidence from a limited number of studies suggested that organic milk may contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids...
“Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious,” said Smith-Spangler, who is also an instructor of medicine at the School of Medicine. “We were a little surprised that we didn’t find that.”

I hate to break it to you, but studies have been finding this for as long as we've been studying organic foods.

While many studies demonstrate these qualitative differences between organic and conventional foods, it is premature to conclude that either food system is superior to the other with respect to safety or nutritional composition. Pesticide residues, naturally occurring toxins, nitrates, and polyphenolic compounds exert their health risks or benefits on a dose-related basis, and data do not yet exist to ascertain whether the differences in the levels of such chemicals between organic foods and conventional foods are of biological significance.
This review illustrates that tradeoffs exist between organic and conventional food production. Organic fruits and vegetables rely upon far fewer pesticides than do conventional fruits and vegetables, which results in fewer pesticide residues, but may also stimulate the production of naturally occurring toxins if organic crops are subject to increased pest pressures from insects, weeds, or plant diseases. Because organic fruits and vegetables do not use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, they have more biochemical energy to synthesize beneficial secondary plant metabolites such as polyphenolic antioxidants as well as naturally occurring toxins. In some cases, food animals produced organically have the potential to possess higher rates of bacterial contamination than those produced conventionally since organic production generally prohibits antibiotic use. The prohibition of antimicrobial agents also explains the apparent lower incidence of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial isolates of organic food animals, as some studies have shown a correlation between increased rates of antibiotic use and increased antimicrobial resistance.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Iceland Trolls and American Evolution Deniers

So I was sitting on a park bench next to someone was talking with their friend about her trip to Iceland.

"50% of Icelanders still believe in trolls"
"In the 21st century? That's so weird, I want to go to Iceland"

I have no idea if the fact about Iceland is true, but it reminded me of a fact about the United States that doesn't instigate the same kind of reaction. Some large percent of the United States don't believe in evolution. The level of feeling skyrockets to moral outrage over the United States fact, but the Iceland fact is accepted with dispassionate tolerance. Which I think is crazy since the two matters are about as practical as each other.

And by the way, I really want to hear the debate in Iceland over whether trolls should be taught in school.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bible Quiz Documentary is worth a watch

I'm not a documentary type, they too often confuse the elegance of a story with the truth of some broader and nobler worldview. But I found myself drawn to this one, Bible Quiz. I didn't find anything it said about Christianity particularly insightful, but it was charming and throughout I was anxious to find out how it would end.