Plastic brains

This is quite a nice talk by Daphna Joel on male brains and female brains — she’s making the point that there are no such things. There are differential responses by developing brains to the environment that lead to different structures…but because it is a property of interactions between sexual factors and the environment, it’s inappropriate to call the differences simply “male” or “female”.

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Yay! Sexism in science is over!

The New York Times has declared that Academic Science Isn’t Sexist. What a relief! The authors are reporting the results of a broad study of many different parameters of the career pipeline, and are happy to report that there are no problems in academia. None at all, no sir.

Our analysis reveals that the experiences of young and midcareer women in math-intensive fields are, for the most part, similar to those of their male counterparts: They are more likely to receive hiring offers, are paid roughly the same (in 14 of 16 comparisons across the eight fields), are generally tenured and promoted at the same rate (except in economics), remain in their fields at roughly the same rate, have their grants funded and articles accepted as often and are about as satisfied with their jobs. Articles published by women are cited as often as those by men. In sum, with a few exceptions, the world of academic science in math-based fields today reflects gender fairness, rather than gender bias.

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Creationist debacle at Michigan State

It’s yet another creationist conference in which the imminent demise of evolutionary theory will be declared this weekend, and it’s being held on a university campus, which is always jarring. The university is said to be “uneasy” about it all.

The 1 November event, called the Origin Summit, is sponsored by Creation Summit, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Christian group that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and was founded to “challenge evolution and all such theories predicated on chance.” The 1-day conference will include eight workshops, according the event’s website, including discussion of how evolutionary theory influenced Adolf Hitler’s worldview, why “the big bang is fake,” and why “natural selection is NOT evolution.” Another talk targets the work of MSU biologist Richard Lenski, who has conducted an influential, decades-long study of evolution in bacterial populations.

News of the event caught MSU’s scientific community largely by surprise. Creation Summit secured a room at the university’s business school through a student religious group, but the student group did not learn about the details of the program—or the sometimes provocative talk titles—until later, says MSU zoologist Fred Dyer. The talk titles led Dyer to suspect that the student group was not involved in planning the conference, he says, prompting him to look into its origins.

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If you think the Pope is endorsing science, then you must agree with this guy too

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, explains that good ol’ polytheistic Hinduism is fully compatible with science, just like the Pope finds Catholicism compatible with evolution.

We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time, the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.

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No, the Pope doesn’t support evolution

He’s the Pope; you know he’s not going to defy his dogma to be honest with you. He doesn’t support gay marriage, either, but is good at giving the impression of tolerance, which will then be ‘clarified’ by Vatican spokesmen. Same here. Lots of people are telling me that the Pope says Christians should believe in evolution and Big Bang, but no, he actually isn’t. He’s telling you to believe in the Catholic Church’s weird-ass wink-wink-nudge-nudge version of evolution.

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