Showing posts from January, 2006

Religion and Science (2)

Continuing a previous post ... A recent report indicates that "Just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, according to an opinion poll. Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons." In a 2005 Gallup poll, 53% of US citizens said they believed the Biblical account of human origins to be true. Even when evolutionary theory is not completely incompatible with religion (e.g. Darwin himself was religious), it seems that a great part of the public is against it... In the UK, people over 55 are more likely to be on that side. It is true that deep rooted beliefs take time (in generations) to change, but still, the question remains: Is science doing something wrong in the divulgation of evolutionary theory? Or it is just that religion has PR you can't fight against with? I mean, evolutionary theory does not imply th

My name is Carlos and I have a problem...

Shrinks came up with a new buzzword: internet addiction disorder. Well, isn't it a bit too late? Who isn't addicted to it nowadays? It turns out that our brain releases dopamine when we get new mail... so it feels good, and we want more, and more , and MORE !!! ...until we can't live without it... and we feel depressed if we don't have our fix. But then, everything that brings pleasure potentailly can also cause addiction, doesn't it? I mean, I am cleary addicted to my wife, to tasty food, etc. The question is: when does an addiction/dependency become a social problem? I mean, food addiction certainly poses a serious health problem in certain McCountries, but nobody would dream of prohibiting food. Then, could campaings against excesses in food, Internet, pornography, etc., be used against drugs? I know they are not at the same level, with the argument that these addictions do not affect the mental faculties of people... but on the other hand alcohol does affect i

Why Impact Factor is obsolete...

"Journal Status" Authors: Johan Bollen , Marko A. Rodriguez , Herbert Van de Sompel Abstract: The status of an actor in a social context is commonly defined in terms of two factors: the total number of endorsements the actor receives from other actors and the prestige of the endorsing actors. These two factors indicate the distinction between popularity and expert appreciation of the actor, respectively. We refer to the former as popularity and to the latter as prestige. These notions of popularity and prestige also apply to the domain of scholarly assessment. The ISI Impact Factor (ISI IF) is defined as the mean number of citations a journal receives over a 2 year period. By merely counting the amount of citations and disregarding the prestige of the citing journals, the ISI IF is a metric of popularity, not of prestige. We demonstrate how a weighted version of the popular PageRank algorithm can be used to obtain a metric that reflects prestige. We contrast the rankings of

Overwhelmed by Choice?

Many people complain that nowadays there is too much choice. 20 ways of having your coffee, 50 types of ketchup, ten political parties in countries of less than 10 million... I agree that in many cases the choice can be overwhelming, but I think that the solution is not to eliminate diversity. The variety (in most cases) is there for a reason: Contextuality . Our society has become so diverse, that people coming from different contexts need different things. In the past, people were more localized, so that they had to learn only the customs of their town or city. Now we need to learn the ways of the world. But since we all learn different aspects of it, we end up with different worldviews. And if there is a variety in the population, there needs to be a variety in the social institutions serving it (Ashby dixit ). Vegans DO fly in airplanes... On the other hand, too much choice overloads our cognitive abilities. Fifty years ago, George Miller published a paper showing that people ten

Why I'm Happy I Evolved

Great article by Olivia Judson on evolution...