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Michael Specter: The danger of science denial

Michael Specter: The danger of science denial

An Uncertain Truth This is the second installment of a three-part series on radical skepticism and the rise of conspiratorial thinking about science. In 1969, a series of historic memorandums began to circulate at a tobacco company in Kentucky. The documents addressed growing public concern over the health risks associated with smoking and outlined a brazen response: The cigarette manufacturers would "establish—once and for all—that no scientific evidence has ever been produced, presented or submitted to prove conclusively that cigarette smoking causes cancer." To support this ludicrous assertion (which the tobacco executives knew to be false) would require a spin campaign of monumental proportions. That campaign's inaugural words have now become a slogan for corporate connivery: "Doubt is our product," read one infamous memo, "since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public." What makes this mode of thinking so effective—and so prevalent?

Richard Feynman: Physics is fun to imagine Loading … Comment on this Talk 138 total comments In this archival footage from BBC TV, celebrated physicist Richard Feynman explains what fire, magnets, rubber bands (and more) are like at the scale of the jiggling atoms they're made of. One of the best known and most renowned scientists in history, Richard Feynman pioneered quantum mechanics. 13 Way, way out there Curated by TED Travel across the universe (or is it universes?) What to Watch Next Murray Gell-Mann: Beauty, truth and ... physics? 16:02 Posted: Dec 2007 Views 884,787 | Comments 139 What Your Friends are Watching Related Topics We want you to share our Talks! Just follow the guidelines outlined under our Creative Commons license.

Oral HPV Infection is Three Times More Common in Men than Women, Study Shows First author and study leader Dr. Maura Gillison, medical oncologist and head and neck cancer specialist at the OSUCCC – James, describes the findings of her paper, “Prevalence of Oral HPV Infection in the United States, 2009-2010" published online Jan. 26, 2012, by Journal of the American Medical Association. ​COLUMBUS, Ohio – New research shows that men are three times more likely to have an oral human papilloma virus (HPV) infection than women. The findings help explain why HPV-related oral cancers are three times more common in men than women. Dr. Gillison and her collaborators sought to determine the prevalence of oral HPV infection in the United States and to understand the factors associated with infection and oropharyngeal cancer, tumors that affect the base of the tongue, the tonsils or back of the mouth. Other key findings include the following: The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. Contact: Darrell E.

Collide-a-Scape Of the all the famous names associated with climate change, there are two I would love to see headlined in a debate–against each other. Both of these individuals believe global warming presents an existential threat, both believe Big Green is part of the problem, and both offer a radically different path to decarbonization of the global economy. Yes, the debate between Naomi Klein and James Hansen would be fascinating. Klein, as you probably have heard, is the author of a new and much discussed book titled, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.” Her publisher describes it as a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems. The New Statesmen, a liberal UK publication, opens its review of the book thusly: Look, I’m not saying that markets have no role in combatting climate change. What happens then?

Vitamin A Cassava Dissemination Officially Launched in Nigeria | HarvestPlus Washington D.C.-The dissemination of vitamin A cassava reached an important milestone in Nigeria on July 30 with a formal national launch under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government. Agriculture Minister Dr. Akin Adesina, alongside representatives from the Ministry of Health, officiated at the event in Akwa-Ibom state attended by over 2,000 farmers and other agriculture, nutrition and development stakeholders. “The national launch is a recognition that biofortified staple food crops such as vitamin A cassava can constitute an important component in the strategy to improve nutritional and public health outcomes in Nigeria,” says Paul Ilona, the HarvestPlus Nigeria Country Manager. The three launched varieties can meet 25 percent of the daily vitamin A needs of consumers in a country where vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a serious public health concern. Akwa-Ibom was one of four states originally selected as a pilot for the vitamin A cassava delivery.

Argentina desarrolla papa GM resistente a virus Investigadores argentinos desarrollaron una papa genéticamente modificada (GM) resistente al Virus de la Papa Y (PVY), el cual reduce entre el 20% y el 80% la productividad del cultivo. Un equipo de científicos argentinos desarrolló plantas de papa resistentes al Virus de la Papa Y (PVY, por su sigla en inglés), una enfermedad que afecta a mas del 50 por ciento de los cultivos y reduce su productividad desde un 20% hasta un 80%, en los casos más severos. El equipo es liderado por Fernando Bravo Almonacid, investigador principal del Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas de Argentina -CONICET en el Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular (INGEBI, CONICET-UBA), quien explica que “este virus provoca deformación y decoloración de las hojas, que afecta la fotosíntesis. Esto lleva a que el tubérculo crezca menos y se reduzca la productividad de los cultivos”. Se espera que la papa resistente al virus PVY próximamente pueda comercializarse.

World changing technology enables crops to take nitrogen from the air A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers. Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil, and for most crops currently being grown across the world, this also means a reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. The proof of concept has already been demonstrated. Story credits

Science and Agricultural Biotechnology — Agricultural Biotechnology Communicators Science and Agricultural Biotechnology What is biotechnology and why is it being used in our food supply? Agricultural biotechnology is really a collection of scientific techniques, including genetic engineering, used to improve plants, animals and microorganisms. What is genetic engineering? All living things - including the fruits, vegetables and meat that we eat - contain genes that provide the instructions that tell the cells how to function. How long has genetic engineering been used in agriculture and food production? The first food products of biotechnology - an enzyme used in cheese production and a yeast used for baking - appeared on the market in 1990. What other products are genetically engineered? The food industry has used genetically engineered bacteria and yeasts for more than 20 years to produce vitamins and nutritional supplements.

Scientists discover genetic key to efficient crops Thomas Slewinski Cross section of a mature maize leaf showing Kranz (German for wreath) anatomy around a large vein. The bundle sheath cells (lighter red) encircle the vascular core (light blue). Mesophyll cells (dark red) encircle the bundle sheath cells. The interaction and cooperation between the mesophyll and bundle sheath is essential for the C4 photosynthetic mechanism. With projections of 9.5 billion people by 2050, humankind faces the challenge of feeding modern diets to additional mouths while using the same amounts of water, fertilizer and arable land as today. Cornell researchers have taken a leap toward meeting those needs by discovering a gene that could lead to new varieties of staple crops with 50 percent higher yields. The gene, called Scarecrow, is the first discovered to control a special leaf structure, known as Kranz anatomy, which leads to more efficient photosynthesis. The finding "provides a clue as to how this whole anatomical key is regulated," said Turgeon.

Transgenic Crops: An Introduction and Resource Guide Despite the poor understanding of the process, plant breeding was a popular activity. Gregor Mendel himself, the father of genetics, was a plant breeder, as were some of the leading botanists of his time. Mendel's 1865 paper ( explaining how dominant and recessive alleles could produce the traits we see and could be passed to offspring was the first major insight into the science behind the art. Major advances in plant breeding followed the revelation of Mendel's discovery. A variation on the wide crossing procedure is to select plants that have single chromosomes or chromosome arms substituted from one species into another.

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