Raiders take practice off-site, indoors to avoid smoke

first_imgALAMEDA — The Raiders took to the road for practice Thursday, boarding buses with a police escort to an off-site nearby indoor facility to stay out of the smoke caused by the destructive Paradise Camp Fire.Doors to the facility and locker room were closed with signs warning players and support staff to keep them closed to minimize smoke inhalation.Offensive coordinator Greg Olson acknowledged that any adjustments the Raiders must make for the natural disaster pale in comparison to those in …last_img read more

Scientism Fails Another Defense

first_imgA physicist’s latest attempt to justify scientism reveals a deplorable ignorance of history, logic and philosophy of science.Tom Solomon, astronomer and physicist at Bucknell University, makes a valiant attempt to defend scientism (the view that ‘science’ is exceptional and superior to any other search for knowledge). In his article on The Conversation, “Scientific theories aren’t mere conjecture – to survive they must work,” he begins by expressing his frustration at public distrust of Big Science.The theory of evolution also shows a mismatch: Whereas there is virtually universal agreement among scientists about the validity of the theory, only 33 percent of the public accepts it in full. For both climate change and evolution, skeptics sometimes sow doubt by saying that it is just a “theory.”Solomon undoubtedly has the wisdom to distrust a consensus, in order to avoid the bandwagon and authority fallacies. But his defense is largely pragmatic:The issue is not whether a scientific theory is settled, but rather whether it works. Any successful scientific theory must be predictive and falsifiable; that is, it must successfully predict outcomes of controlled experiments or observations, and it must survive tests that could disprove the theory.The “prediction” test, unfortunately, is known to philosophers of science as the fallacy of “affirming the consequent.” The “falsifiability test,” further, requires more nuance after the collapse of logical positivism to survive Quine’s and Kuhn’s insights into the nature of actual scientific practice: i.e., anomalies rarely falsify popular theories. Currently, for instance, dark matter has failed every test thrown at it for the last few decades.  What is the reaction of the scientific community? Keep building more sensitive detectors (e.g., Phys.org) and keep thinking of more bizarre particles that “might” exist. They might find it some day, but they are not quick to accept falsification. An even worse example is wide acceptance of “multiverse theory” to avoid the implications of cosmic fine-tuning (see Guth Goof in the Darwin Dictionary).Similarly, evolution has proven resistant to both falsification and prediction, resting as it does on Darwin’s House of Cards – the title of journalist Tom Bethell’s recent book. Speaking of falsification, Karl Popper told Bethell personally that he had not changed his opinion that Darwinism was an unfalsifiable research program, and therefore did not qualify as a scientific theory. Tom Solomon seems unaware of this important historical judgment by the father of the falsification criterion.Wide acceptance comes from repeated, different experiments by different research groups. There is no threshold or tipping point at which a theory becomes “settled.” And there is never 100 percent certainty. However, near-unanimous acceptance by the scientific community simply doesn’t occur unless the evidence is overwhelming.Solomon leaves out important social considerations about scientific consensus. His description sounds nice in theory, but in actual practice, the herd instinct is strong in Big Science, just as it is in any other common-interest association. There are conflicts of interest, influences of strong personalities, and fears of bucking the consensus. Highly-charged matters like climate and evolution are especially prone to social pressure (see the film Expelled). There are notable cases in the history of science when the consensus was wrong, even intolerant of considering alternate views (see National Geographic‘s recounting of the case of J Harlan Bretz).Even for cases when the consensus is correct, Solomon’s argument rests primarily on authority and bandwagon. He does not consider cases where the lone maverick was right against the consensus. One weeps for Semmelweis’s vain attempts to get doctors to wash their hands, or Pasteur’s lonely battles to get the consensus to disbelieve in spontaneous generation. We’ve covered many such cases over the years, and we feel that Darwinian evolution is perhaps the greatest example of an unfalsifiable, unpredictable, fact-challenged web of belief that the consensus holds to with rigor and intolerance – not because of the evidence, but despite it, because they embraced (or have only learned) the naturalistic worldview. It would be hard to think of any other theory that has seen more rescue devices employed to save it from falsification.Solomon continues. He compares Darwinism to Einstein’s relativity (the Association Fallacy):Like relativity, the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection has been tested extensively. The body of experimental data that supports evolution is overwhelming. Of course, the fossil record supporting evolution is impressive and complete. But evolution has also been tested in real time with populations of organisms that can mutate and evolve over measurable time scales.Evolution has been subjected to many falsifiable tests and has emerged unscathed in every one. Yes, evolution is a “theory” – it is a theory that works and works very well, an overwhelmingly successful and correct theory.Well, he clearly has not been following Creation-Evolution Headlines, where we show otherwise on a daily or weekly basis – from the consensus’s own journals and experts. For a shortcut example, skip down to Stephen Talbot’s comments in our 10/03/15 entry. Solomon reveals a deplorable ignorance of the history of evolutionary thought. He conflates tests of microevolution (not in the least problematic for the most ardent young earth creationists) with molecules-to-man macroevolution. He ignores problems with the origin of life. He thinks Lenski’s bacteria support Darwin, when after decades and thousands of generations, they are still the same species of bacteria. And for him to say that the fossil record supports evolution, failing to point out the Cambrian Explosion (a falsification if there ever was one), is tantamount to a big lie.These issues are important from more than just a purely scientific perspective. An understanding of evolution is critical for developing any valid strategy for combating the spread of diseases, especially since microbes responsible for diseases can mutate so rapidly. And an understanding and acceptance of climate change theory is critical if we are to take the necessary steps to avoid potential catastrophe from a continuation of the global warming trend.Here Solomon gets into the fear-mongering strategy, mixing it with red herrings about disease and global catastrophe. He seems unaware that many of the greatest disease-fighters in the history of medicine – William Harvey, James Simpson, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Howard Atwood Kelly and Walter Reed – were creationists. Medical science was in fact advancing quite well before Darwin, and it survived in spite of Social Darwinism’s atrocities (forced sterilization “to purify the race” and worse) as documented in Jerry Bergman’s book, How Darwinism Corrodes Morality.Scientific theories aren’t mere conjecture. They are subject to exhaustive, falsifiable tests. Some theories fail these tests and are jettisoned. But many theories are successful in the face of these tests. It is these theories – the ones that work – that achieve consensus in the scientific community.It’s hard to say this charitably, but such statements convey a middle-school comprehension of history and philosophy of science. It’s important to remember that “science” used to be called “natural philosophy,” and there was no such thing as a “scientist” until William Whewell coined the word in 1833 (against the objections of some).  Scientism attempts to reify “science” as some kind of homogeneous entity out there. But are political science, psychology and chemistry on the same level? Do they all deserve the coveted label of science? C. S. Lewis said this:Strictly speaking, there is, I confess, no such thing as ‘modern science’.  There are only particular sciences, all in a stage of rapid change, and sometimes inconsistent with one another.Scientism also falsely portrays “science” as something external to the human mind, as if a machine could turn a crank on a ‘scientific method’ machine and get objective, reliable output. In truth, all scientific theories, tests, and conclusions are theory-laden and value-laden. What people should really aim at is following evidence wherever it leads, whether that is in biology, history, comparing brands while shopping, or any other human activity. On another occasion, C. S. Lewis said,If popular thought feels ‘science’ to be different from all other kinds of knowledge because science is experimentally verifiable, popular thought is mistaken.  Experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere logic.  We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought.Solomon could have helped his case by pointing to some highly-repeatable types of science like chemical reactions or electromagnetic forces. Even these, it must be noted, are still theory-laden and subject to paradigm shifts. But by using anthropogenic climate change and macroevolution as his prime examples – neither of which are repeatable (there’s only one earth, and only one history of life) – and each of which are highly controversial along political divides – he may only get “Amen!” from those who already agree with his middle-school-level philosophy of science.Tom Solomon’s rhetoric illustrates the kind of bombast that intimidates laypeople, churches and schools into bowing the knee to the Darwinian consensus. Big Science and Big Media conspire to ensure that only this loudmouth message gets heard, because they know that, historically, whenever a public debate allows the other side a hearing, Darwin loses. This problem was so embarrassing in the era of the Morris & Gish debates that Eugenie Scott warned colleagues not to debate them. Solomon’s article on “The Conversation” would have been much more interesting if it truly were a two-way conversation. It turned out to be an emotional sermon on why the dumb public should trust Big Science. One can hear the echoes of the late novelist Michael Crichton shouting in the halls of Caltech,I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had. Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.That pulls the rug out from most of Tom Solomon’s defense of scientism.Are you learning through these CEH exercises how to respond to bombastic blowhards? Step 1: Don’t be intimidated by hot air. Step 2: Read and learn all you can about the history and philosophy of science. Step 3: Master the Baloney Detector. Then, after clearly defining your terms and the issue, learn how to formulate questions that bring the blowhard’s hot air balloon down to earth where you can see eye to eye. Then, have a nice conversation.The rest of you need to help open the castle walls and let the Visigoths in (5/09/06 and 3/26/07 commentaries) so this can happen.(Visited 158 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Eskom clinches $805m US loan for Kusile

first_img31 May 2011 South Africa state electricity company Eskom has secured a $805-million (about R5.57-billion) direct loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States to finance construction of the Kusile coal-fired power plant near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga province. The application to finance the Kusile project underwent a review that focused on aspects related to its carbon dioxide production, and South Africa’s long-range goals to reduce its carbon dioxide production. The Kusile plant will consist of six 800 MW units, for a total capacity of 4 800 MW, and is designed with advanced technology and equipment, including highly efficient supercritical boilers. Kulile is the second of two plants – the other being Medupi in the Limpopo province – being constructed by Eskom in order to meet South Africa’s increasing demand for electric power. The approval brings Ex-Im Bank’s current fiscal year financing in sub-Saharan Africa to nearly $1.5-billion, nearly double the previous one year record of $812-million set during the fiscal year ending 30 September. SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material Advanced technology The financing will support Eskom’s purchase of engineering and construction management services from Black & Veatch International of Overland Park, Kansas. Reducing harmful emissions Eskom undertook a comprehensive environmental assessment for the project, and a number of environmental safeguards, including were included in the plant’s design. Notably, Kusile will be the first coal-fired power plant in South Africa to include scrubbers to control sulphur dioxide and filtering equipment to minimise particulate emissions. Hundreds of highly skilled American senior engineers and support personnel in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Kansas City, Missouri will be employed by Black & Veatch each year during a five-year period. To help conserve water, the plant will use an air cooling system. The plant also is designed to be carbon capture and sequestration ready, which means it is configured in a way that will cater for the future installation of equipment to capture and transport carbon emissions to a permanent storage location. Eskom has announced its goal to significantly reduce its long-term dependence on coal by 2025. “Ex-Im Bank financing of US export sales to sub-Saharan Africa represents our commitment to the region,” said Ex-Im Bank chairman Fred Hochberg. “The world is rebuilding its critical infrastructure, and these types of opportunities are available to US companies in developing areas of the world. Rebuilding critical infrastructure “Ex-Im understands the opportunities that exist in Africa and is enlarging its footprint there,” South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, said in a statement this week. “Moreover, entities like Eskom understand that they need to put forward proposals which are defensible both financially and environmentally, and that is where this transaction was born. “We thank Ex-Im for approving the Eskom financing, as well as the bank’s vision and commitment to South Africa.” South Africa is one of nine countries identified by Ex-Im Bank as offering the greatest export sales opportunities to US companies. In winning this contract with the Bank’s support, Black & Veatch overcame competition from several major European engineering companies. “We are ready to finance American exporters to win those sales and keep Americans working.”last_img read more

South Africa starts work on EO-Sat 1

first_img13 September 2013 Denel Spaceteq, the newly launched space engineering unit of South African aerospace and defence manufacturer Denel, has started the initial work on a multispectral, high-resolution earth observation satellite called EO-Sat1. Denel Spaceteq general manager Berthold Alheit said last week that EO-Sat1 was scheduled to be in operation for the South African National Space Agency by 2017. The satellite will be used in the areas of food security, urban planning and development, safety and security, and disaster management support. Denel group CEO Riaz Saloojee, announcing the launch of Denel Spaceteq on Friday, said that space had been identified as one of South Africa’s “five grand challenges”. The Departments of Science and Technology and Trade and Industry have identified satellite production, in particular, as a high-technology manufacturing niche that South Africa should be pursuing. Spaceteq’s launch follows the incorporation of SunSpace – the local company that built both of South Africa’s micro satellites, SunSat and Sumbandilasat – into Denel Dynamics in July. “The high-end engineers and scientists absorbed by Denel from SunSpace brought with them capabilities of their own, including the SunSat and Sumbandilasat programmes,” Denel said in a statement on Friday. “EO-Sat1 will be based on the strong legacy inherited from the development of SumbandilaSat.” First launched in 2009, SumbandilaSat was designed and built from scratch in one year, at low cost, by South African engineers, who also developed a world-class mission control system for the programme. Before a blast of solar radiation put it out of commission by damaging its on-board computer in July 2011, SumbandilaSat delivered over 1 000 very usable, cloud-free images, and became well-known by the amateur radio satellite society worldwide for the excellent results from its amateur radio payload. South Africa’s third satellite, EO-Sat1, will also be used for earth observation, in line with the country’s space strategy, which seeks to apply satellite data to help to improve livelihoods, reduce poverty and manage natural disasters in the country and the region. “The benefit of a local space industry will be far-reaching,” Saloojee said on Friday. “South Africa’s access to, and control over, its own satellites will ensure advanced surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.” At the same time, he said, retaining and developing technology and engineering skills within South Africa’s borders would help inspire young talent in the key fields of maths and science. Spaceteq was officially inducted into the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) at the 64th International Astronautical Congress in Beijing, China on Monday. “This formal induction and membership into the IAF will assist Spaceteq to successfully enter the space industry with greater insight and establish international networks,” Denel Dynamics CEO Tsepo Monaheng said in a statement. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Give Your Footage A Vintage Look with ‘Carousel’

first_imgPost-production software creators Red Giant Software and Crumplepop have teamed up to produce Carousel, a vintage film emulator for FCPX.The ‘vintage film look’ continues to be all the rage, what with Instagram. Hipstamatic and other photo emulators.  It’s no surprise then that video has followed suit, with content creators looking to give their pristine HD footage a retro film look (a bit ironic, don’t you think?)Red Giant’s technical expertise and Crumplepop’s proficiency for creating FCPX plugins have combined to create Carousel – vintage film effects for Final Cut Pro X that are high quality and easy to use.  These retro camera looks have an organic quality because they were actually created “using film prints from a toy camera and 120 film.”  You’ll see the imperfections and light leaks from the prints they were created from, giving an even more realistic effect.Drag and drop one of the 10 Carousel looks onto your footage in FCPX and then tweak the parameters for a custom vintage look.  Hipsters rejoice!Download Carousel from Crumplepop – free to try, $49 to buy.*Currently, Carousel only works with Final Cut Pro Xlast_img read more