Creepy Cruz on climate change

There is something vaguely creepy about Ted Cruz.

It is more than the smug expression that is his standard face. He also has the sly expression of someone who thinks he is way smarter than you and can argue better and thus can make you believe what he says. This confidence is shown in the way he flatly distorts things and uses his skills in sophistry to try and make his lies sound truthful.
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That’s science, baby!

Residents of a North Carolina town reject solar power plan because they think it will use up all the sunlight and kill the plants.

A town meeting in Woodland, North Carolina heard public comments on a proposed solar farm in which citizens, including a retired science teacher called Jane Mann, spoke out against the proposal.

Ms Mann opposes the solar expansion because she believes it would lower her property values. She also said that plants near solar farms do not thrive because there wasn’t enough sunshine left over for them to photosynthesize. She also evinced a belief that solar panels cause cancer. Her husband added that solar panels “suck up all the energy from the sun.”

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‘Global cooling’: A case study of niche science getting hyped by the media

One of the features of science is that most of the time the community of scientists in any particular sub-specialty will agree on the basic paradigms that govern that field. While there will always be some scientists who refuse to accept the paradigm, most work within the consensus. This changes when the paradigm begins breaks down due to the fact that anomalies start to proliferate and no progress is made on major problems. Then more and more scientists start to look for new paradigms that promise to radically change the way they view the world. Those periods of scientific revolutions are exciting but rare.
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Primer on encryption

Encryption has been in the news ever since Edward Snowden revealed to the world the massive spying operation that the US and its allies in English speaking countries (UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) perpetrates on the communications of people all over the world. The backlash has resulted in some curbs to the US government’s spying powers but the greater impact has been on the increased use of end-to-end encryption on the internet.
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Happiness and longevity

It is always interesting when conventional wisdom is challenged. A new study provides a classic example of the danger of inferring causation from correlation. There have been studies that show that people who are unhappy have higher mortality rates and thus shorter life spans. It has become conventional to think that being unhappy is bad for you. But a new large ten-year study says that rather than unhappiness leading to increased mortality, it is poor health that leads people to be unhappy and that is the reason for the correlation.
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Is homeopathy harmless?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a statistician and risk analyst. He recently sent out a tweet that defended homeopathy as being harmless and even beneficial since after all people were only taking a placebo and that it may prevent them from over-treatment of marginal symptoms. He followed up with another tweet saying that “Superstitions can be rational if 1) harmless, 2) lower your anxiety, 3) prevent you from listening to forecast by economists & BS “experts””
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The woman who got impregnated by a bullet

That is an attention-grabbing title, right? It is the kind of story that people will read and remember. And there was such a story that emerged during the American Civil War. It involved a field doctor’s published report of a man who was shot through the scrotum and the bullet subsequently got lodged in a woman and ended up impregnating her. The story grabbed the imagination of people for many years.
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Fetal tissue research

Carly Fiorina’s lies during a debate about a video she had seen that she claimed showed officials of Planned Parenthood callously discussing harvesting aborted infants for fetal tissue research has given that topic a lot of adverse publicity. But this article by Carina Storrs explains what fetal tissue research actually involves and the enormous benefits that it has provided in finding treatment for polio, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
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