Campbell's previous work, "The China Study", clearly contained a powerful message. Non-processed whole foods, especially nuts, fruits, and vegetables...moreCampbell's previous work, "The China Study", clearly contained a powerful message. Non-processed whole foods, especially nuts, fruits, and vegetables are the key to fighting chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, the tone of this book (it came across as notably bitter) somewhat dampens the power of that message. Campbell originally gained credibility because his message was continually backed by his comprehensive scientific research, but this book is really about attacking reductionist science and special interest lobbies that have prevented his message from becoming more influential. Lots of books have examined these same special interest groups so "Whole" doesn't really cover much new ground. I think "Whole" would have been more positively regarded if the book had been dedicated to a reasonable critique of reductionist approaches to complex scientific questions and giving advice as to how to carry out a "whole" diet in our current high-processed-food culture. Regardless, I admire Campbell's tenacity as a scientist and hope his message continues to find open minds willing to consider his arguments. (less)
**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the wor...more**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the world, different cities, and in difference situations. Overall, he argues that our water supply is in such danger in so many places because people take water for granted. They don’t even think about it despite it being one of our most basic needs. This leads us to waste it, mismanage it, and fail to put resources into maintaining our water supply for the future. Only once crisis hits to we finally start to pay attention to how we use water and where it comes from.
***Chapter topics: In “Dolphins in the Desert”, Fishman covers the evolution of water policy in Las Vegas. Despite being in the middle of the desert and full of water extravagance, it has developed some of the most sophisticated water reusing systems in the world. - In “Water Under Water”, Fishman explains the complexity of making water supplies disaster proof as he profiles Galveston, TX, after Hurricane Ike. - In “The Money in the Pipes” he profiles several large companies that are at the forefront of water conservation and reuse because they use it in such a large scale. – In “The Yuck Factor” he profiles how important changing attitudes toward water can be when trying to implement new water reuse methods. One city in Australia nearly ran out of water because its citizens couldn’t accept the idea of reusing treated sewer water. – In “Who Stopped the Rain” he talks about Australia, which has been going through a great drought in the last decade or so. This has precipitated several water crises from farming to urban supply. The primary problem is overuse of its rivers and planning based on high-water years instead of the contemporary average. – In “Where Water is Worshipped, but Gets no Respect” he talks about India and how atrocious their water situation is for nearly everyone, rich and poor. Very few cities have 24/7 water supplies, even for well-off people, and the majority of the country suffers from huge productivity and education losses because so much time is spent hand-carrying water for daily needs. He also goes into the major health problems that result from contaminated water and ink-black rivers. E.g., There is so much dangerous bacteria and pollution that one eye-dropper of water from the Yamuna or Ganges River put into six bathtubs full of water would be enough to make it unsafe to sit in. – In “It’s Water. Of Course It’s Free” he summarizes the problem with most attitudes toward water. Unless we start to recognize it as a real resource that requires respect and serious attention, we will continue to stumble into major shortages and conflicts over water. Water is not a global problem in the sense that you can influence water problems across the world, but it is the combination of a million different local problems regarding water that makes it a global concern.
***The 300,000 gallons of water used during a space shuttle launch is not for cooling, but for sound dampening. Otherwise the sound shock waves would tear the shuttle apart.
***The biggest use of water in the home is toilet flushing. We flush on average around 5 times a day which is about 18.5 gallons
***The fundamental problem with water is that it cannot be used up, but it is not equally available in all locations. How and where it is available in usable form varies dramatically and can be very unpredictable. So what this means is that all water problems are local in the sense that saving water in your home isn't going to directly help water-started villages in India. This is very different from many other environmental issues, like carbon footprints or gasoline use.
***Patricia Mulroy (the Las Vegas water czar) suggested to Obama a huge public works program to create a series of canals to capture and divert Mississippi floodwaters so it would both reduce natural disasters and send excess water to places that need it.
***At IBM Burlington, they create what is known as "ultra-pure water" which is hundreds of times cleaner than distilled or purified water. They use complex filtration systems to remove every molecule from water so that the pure water can pull microscopic particles from microchips. The smaller the chip, the more pure the water must be. It is very expensive to create, and in fact, would be dangerous to drink in large quantities. Water is such a good solvent, its molecules are filled with all kinds of minerals, etc. If you remove the minerals, etc. it will try to pull molecules out of anything it comes in contact with, including the nutrients in our body.
***Celebrity Cruise ships have a huge ice expense to create enough ice to cool all of the food/beverages on a typical cruise. One way they have reduced the cost is to no longer use ice, but to cool rocks that retain temperature well enough to cool the food.
***The author details an economic model for water designed by Mike Young to better allocate water resources. In the shape of a water glass, each layer of water is designated for a particular purpose. The first layer is “maintenance water” that is just enough necessary to maintain the environmental system. This is already a problem in many rivers where dams have to be built to keep ocean water from heading back up dry river beds. The second layer of water is “critical human needs” such as drinking, bathing, and basic water services. These two layers are guaranteed, but the next two layers are determined by economics. The first is the high security layer, which demands a high premium cost, and the second is low security, which costs less. Then it becomes a risk calculation process about how much you want to invest in water and whether you want to take the risk that your water layer might run out. If water runs low, the low security customers lose it first, then high security. (less)
**spoiler alert** MY NOTES ON BOOK: Ruse’s book details the history of the enlightenment, especially concerning the advancement of ideas concerning ev...more**spoiler alert** MY NOTES ON BOOK: Ruse’s book details the history of the enlightenment, especially concerning the advancement of ideas concerning evolution and its relation to Christianity. He makes a distinction between “evolutionism” as a faith and “the theory of evolution” as a science. He also points out the motives for millenialists (who believe Christ’s return is imminent vs. post-millenialists who argue that there will be something like a heaven on Earth (and thus, believe in the progress of man).
***On p29, he describes how the belief in evolutionism long preceded the actual science behind evolution. In other words, there was a progression of already having lost one’s faith and looking for a credible substitute long before a real theory of evolution existed. In other words, the idea behind the theory was a means to an end for atheists and agnostics.
***On p34, Ruse makes clear that evolution started out as bad science and was not even considered by real scientists (it was more like phrenology or mesmerism, no empirical support).
***On p48, it discusses Robert Chambers’ work “Vestiges”, which offered not just a story on biological evolution, but a historical narrative of the entire universe. It was very ideologically motivated as a progressive interpretation of the world. In other words, it was materialistic and its purpose was to use knowledge of the physical world to make the world better over time. In “Vestiges” he argued for spontaneous generation and the power of the fossil record. Although he was associated with a church, he really wanted to conquer the beliefs of the church in the name of materialistic progress.
***Ruse points out some of the contradictions of the bible that were used to warrant a literary and historical analysis instead of treating it as inspired. E.g., two stories of creation – Adam and Eve created together vs. Eve coming from Adam’s rib; Deuteronomy – 2 accounts of Moses fasting on the Mount, in Exodus only one; God told Balaam to go with the visitors and then God was angry precisely because he went. ; Manasseh used enchantments and summoned spirits and wizards, but then he repented and was forgiven; why then does God keep punishing people later because of Manasseh’s sins? ; Gospels: was it four thousand people fed with seven loaves or five thousand with five loaves; did Simon of Cyrene carry the Cross, or did Jesus carry it?; Did Judas hang himself (Matthew) or fall headlong with his bowels gushing out (Acts)?
***On p85 he explains that because of the cultural environment at the time, when Origin of Species came out it became fashionable to accept and believe it. In fact, for many people, belief in evolution became an overnight conversion experience. *** One of the big objections to natural selection as a means to creating new species (during Darwin’s lifetime) was from physicists who argued that the Earth was not old enough to allow such changes to occur via that mechanism. Even though they already believed in millions of years, they did not believe in the billions of years necessary to make evolution happen. That came later with research on radioactive decay and the age of the earth.
*** Darwin did little work to promote his new theory, but Thomas Huxley did. Huxley turned a basic scientific theory into a worldview designed to help answer and deal with some of the hardships and decisions in the modern world. Huxley helped turn the theory of evolution into a driving force to update the education system to match the new industrialized world. Onward and upward was his calling card, and evolution was the means to convince others of his methods. He made evolution into a popular science, which also contributed its growth into a social tool (social Darwinism).
*** On p121 it talks about the struggle between true science and “evolutionism” as an ideology: “Tyndall stressed above all the need to be objective and to keep personal opinions and motives and desires out of science. “It is against the objective rendering of the emotions – this thrusting into the region of fact and positive knowledge of conceptions essentially ideal and poetic – that science … wages war.” And here precisely is where evolutionism, including its social Darwinian element, failed. Indeed, it did not even attempt to compete, because it had other goals: to promote a world picture, an ideology of progress. An ideology, to be sure. But would the term “religion” also be appropriate? Considering the nature of the beast, it truly seems so. The concept of a religion is notoriously hard to define, but one thinks in terms of a world picture, providing origins, a place (probably a special place) for humans, a guide to action, a meaning to life. There are other prominent features of many religions, such as belief in a deity and a formalized and recognized priesthood, but these features are not absolutely essential to the definition. Buddhists (and many Unitarians) would probably flunk the God question, and Quakers (by explicit design) have no clergy. Rather than getting too flustered by counterexamples, let us allow the oxymoron “secular religion” and cast our question in these terms. And the answer does seem positive.” P121-122.
*** “To use a phrase invented by Thomas Henry Huxley’s biologist grandson, Julian Huxley, the evolutionists were truly in the business of providing a “religion without revelation” – and like all fanatics they were intolerant of rivals.”p128.
*** Ruse details the shift in the church over time making it more “science friendly”. In 1861 a major criticism on the history of the Bible was endorsed by many clergy.” As the century drew on, theologically as well as legally, notions like substitutionary atonement and eternal punishment came increasingly under attack. The emphasis shifted from Easter to Christmas, from Christ as a sacrificial lamb to the infant Jesus as the embodiment of peace on earth, good will toward men – from atonement to incarnation. It seemed ethically distasteful that God should have to suffer for our sins, and contrary to his goodness that even the worst of sinners should suffer forever. As ideas like these declined in significance, so did the urge to tie faith tightly to a holy text. “ p139
*** With the founding of the journal “Evolution” in the 1940s there grew a subset of scientists who were determined not to let any kind of ideological evolution into their scientific treatises and studies. Dobzhansky and Mayr were two such scientists, and although they had many progressionist beliefs, they made sure to keep it out of their scientific writings. Instead, they began to play the game of being “culture free” and publish their value-free work in their scientific journals, and then write separate books for the popular public concerning the progressive policies/beliefs they endorsed.
*** Ruse admits half-heartedly some of the existing problems with evolution: “Not that all of the evolutionist’s problems have been solved, or are even close to being solved. The problem of the origin of life has always been a major headache for evolutionists.”p200
*** “The real issue is whether some evolutionists today use the supposed progressiveness of evolutionary theory to promote social and ethical programs. And indeed they do.” P212. “In this sense, evolutionary biology – Darwinian evolutionary biology – continues to function as a kind of secular religion. It offers a story of origins. It provides a privileged place at the top for humans. It exhorts humans to action, on the basis of evolutionary principles. It opposes other solutions to questions of social behavior and morality. And it points to a brighter future if all is done as it should be done, in accordance with evolutionary theory.”p213.
*** According to the ruling in Arkansas concerning intelligent design as a science, in order for something to be considered a science the judge said it had to be: “1. It is guided by natural law; 2. It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law; 3. It is testable against the empirical world; 4. Its conclusions are tentative, that is, are not necessarily the final world, and; 5. It is falsifiable.” P248.
*** On arguments against using methodological naturalism as the only way to know truth: “Plantinga goes so far as to argue that naturalism is self-defeating even as a strategy for approaching knowledge, for it makes impossible any genuine knowledge at all. If naturalism is true, then Darwinism is plausible – in fact, it is the best game in town. But Darwinism is not interested in our getting to the truth about reality; it is concerned only with survival and reproduction. And as a reproductive strategy, believing that this world is all there is might be advantageous. Advantageous, but not necessarily true. Conversely, believing in a Christian God might be advantageous, but it also might not be true – just an epiphenomenon of selfish genes. Naturalism leaves us with no way to know, one way or another, the truth about reality, in this world or in worlds beyond. A belief in the power of natural selection leads logically to acceptance of a perpetual state of deception.”p258
*** A poem by Miller Williams “In the sixteenth century Nicholas Copernicus told us the earth was a ball and, what was worse, was not the center of the universe. “Well and so,” we wanted to know, “where does that leave us in the scheme of things?” Wherever it left us, we were just about learning to live with it, when three centuries later Charles Darwin grabbed our attention with the news that we were cousins to the kangaroos. “And so,” we wanted to know, “where does that leave us in the scheme of things?” p263.
*** Ruse’s book is about the crisis of faith that took place during the Enlightenment and the role evolution had in that crisis. The crisis certainly did not begin with evolution, but rather with questions concerning where religious truth came from. If people from other cultures believed different and had different holy books, how could revealed religions be compared? Also, changes in culture with the populations of places like England becoming urban instead of rural changed relations with the church and organized religion. Reason and progress became the center of many people’s worldviews, and evolutionism fit perfectly with that.
*** “By the beginning of the twentieth century evolutionism and creationism were competing for space in the hearts and minds of regular folk. It was not a science-versus-religion conflict but a religion-versus-religion conflict – always the bitterest kind. Darwinians did not have to become secular theologians, but many did. Evolution did not necessarily entail evolutionism, but many evolutionists made the move. Likewise a Christian did not have to become a creationist (or anti-Darwinian), but many did. Creation did not necessarily entail creationism, but many creationists made the move.”p266-267.
*** “Scientists are among the minority of intellectuals who are almost universally optimistic. … Scientists buck the trend because (social constructivism notwithstanding) science is the one area of human experience that is unambiguously progressive. First Mendelian factors, next the classical theory of the gene, and then the double helix. Who would deny that, epistemologically, we have made progress? Unless you believe in scientific progress, you are going to flop as a scientist. You have got to push on and make advances, even when things seem darkest. Science stoppers are for theologians and philosophers, not for scientists.”p286-287.(less)
**spoiler alert** MY NOTES ON BOOK: Woodward points out that whoever gets to define science sets the terms that will decide the outcome of the dispute...more**spoiler alert** MY NOTES ON BOOK: Woodward points out that whoever gets to define science sets the terms that will decide the outcome of the dispute between whether intelligent design or evolution is the real science. Science has typically been defined as the search for the "natural causes" of all phenomena while ID theory would replace that with "real causes". By deciding that definition beforehand the issue has been decided before the first piece of evidence has been put on the table. This is especially relevant because it turns science away from seeking truth, and instead limits areas of inquiry because of the motivation to not allow a God to exist. If the intelligent designer were an alien race, then a scientist would have no trouble accepting the same evidence for the likelihood of design.
*** In response to the "God of the gaps" claim that ID just fills in lack of scientific knowledge with God, it's actually the growth of science that contributes to the support of intelligent design. Using Dembski's information filter, it becomes easier to test whether the formation of particular structures, etc. came from natural processes or whether a designer must be necessary. Much in the same way an archeologist might use a filter to determine whether something they find is due to natural processes or intelligent design. With each additional discovery in the complexity of various cell structures it becomes more certain that design was involved.
*** The general purpose of this book is to respond to the enormous number of attacks that have taken place against ID theorists since the movement began in the mid 90s. He addresses several specific theorists throughout the book. He begins with Michael Behe because he wrote "Darwin's Black Box" about irreducible complexity. He then goes to Jonathan Wells, who wrote "Icons of Evolution". He also addresses the response to the Cambrian explosion, the mystery of where life began, and then moves into the development of Dembski's explanatory filter of specified complexity to determine whether something was intelligently designed or formed via random processes. At each of the steps he points out the unfair attacks perpetrated by evolutionists and calls for a more even-handed debate instead of name calling and distortion. (less)
I would say this is an interesting (and possibly life-changing) book, but as with many books with a strong message, it is highly divisive. While the m...moreI would say this is an interesting (and possibly life-changing) book, but as with many books with a strong message, it is highly divisive. While the majority of people who have read it seem to respond favorably, it is far from the definitive work proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that veganism is the only path to good health. I think that the most important (and entirely accurate) message the average American could get from this book is to eat less animal protein and move towards more of a plant-based, whole foods diet. I really don't know how people can reasonably argue against that.
The more difficult questions to answer, however, are: 1. How little animal protein should we eat? and 2. Is the level of animal protein in one's diet really the most important nutritional predictor of whether cancer or heart disease will develop? Although the author offers a reasonable amount of scientific evidence to support his answers (which are 0% and 'yes'), I think the data are still incomplete. The human body is far too complex to pin a staunch theoretical position on primarily correlational research (on humans). Further (non-partisan) research is certainly needed. In the meantime, however, I will certainly do my best to move towards the plant-based, whole foods diet, but there are no guarantees that you'll be seeing an enthusiastic vegan by this time next year. (less)
Cool book on how products should be designed as opposed to how they are actually designed. Utilizes cognitive psychology to illustrate how subtle cues...moreCool book on how products should be designed as opposed to how they are actually designed. Utilizes cognitive psychology to illustrate how subtle cues communicate complex meaning and drive how we try to use the objects in the world around us. I wish 1/100th of software and computer engineers would read this book. It's filled with countless examples of good and bad design, and most importantly, makes the distinction between designs that look good (and win awards) and designs that work. Another useful point Norman makes is that you aren't stupid if you can't program a vcr (or your Tivo), but rather, it's the designer who is at fault for designing a system with so few obvious affordances. The only problem with the edition I read is that it is a little dated so much of the technology we deal with today had yet to be invented at the time of publishing.(less)
Barabasi is a physicist who works on the composition and structure of networks and complex systems. The book goes into many...more**spoiler alert** My notes:
Barabasi is a physicist who works on the composition and structure of networks and complex systems. The book goes into many specific examples of networks we experience everyday and how they work. Hey goes through the history of graph theory and how it led to the formulation of complex networks as completely random creations (where every node had an equal chance of linking to another node). He and his associates, however, discovered that the networks are not random and follow a pattern of giant hubs with the majority of links connecting to each other through these hubs. One of his specific areas of research is the internet and how it follows this pattern. Furthermore, these "scale free" networks follow power laws (i.e., they do not correspond to a normal curve). As a result of this structure, the few extremely large hubs in each system are responsible for almost all of the change, influence, etc.
He also goes into the degrees of separation in people (6 for any two people in the world, 3 for any 2 actors in Hollywood) and among web pages (19 clicks between any two pages). He also mentions the 80/20 rule, which states that in many systems 20% of people do 80% of the work, 20% of criminals commit 80% of all crimes, etc. There are a number of characteristics that determine whether a node will become a hub, and once achieved, whether it will continue to grow or fail: 1) growth 2) preferential attachment. He also mentions that although many systems have several large hubs, some systems can only have one hub, which he calls "winner take all" (e.g., microsoft). One of the things that determines the longevity and growth of a hub is the "fitness" of it's links.
He then goes into the vulnerabilities of scale free networks and how they can be damaged. Even though random failure of links does little to damage a scale-free network, calculated attacks on the large hubs of networks can result in a cascading failure. This has occurred in networks like the internet, the U.S. power grid, and the human cell. He also mentions many of the same examples used in the Tipping Point: the spread of AIDS, fads, and many other social phenomena. He goes into many specifics about the web as well, specifically how it is difficult to get from certain parts of the web to other parts. There is a central core filled with large hubs, through which you can get to the Out continent, and to which all of the nodes from the In continent point; but there are also Islands that do not have links to central hubs or the Out or In continent. These are extremely difficult to find through the process of linking through random pages.
He then goes into scale-free networks within the human body and the ramifications they have for fighting disease and mapping the network of our genes and DNA. He also treats the economy as a scale-free network that can be understood as a series of networks with a few hubs and many more small links. Overall he posits the idea that scale-free networks are part of many of the large systems we interact with everyday and understanding them will allow us to predict how and when they will form and protect the important systems that already exist (e.g., the internet). (less)
Sarfati responds to a report put out by the National Academy of Sciences to teachers of evolution across the nation. He...more**spoiler alert** My summary:
Sarfati responds to a report put out by the National Academy of Sciences to teachers of evolution across the nation. He addresses it in many different ways varying from underlying assumptions in the report to the gross inaccuracies cited in its pages. He begins by noting the creation perspective and the scientific predictions that it affords. He quickly points out that evolutionary theory also allows for the promotion of religion is not purely scientific. An example of this is the report's recommendation of openly atheistic books that promote atheism as much as evolution. Sarfati then goes into the mechanisms of evolution, natural selection, and variation within a species. Evolutionists believe that particles eventually turned into people through random mutation sorted by natural selection. Creationists believe that all creatures were created with enough genetic information to allow them to adapt to a variety of environments.
Creationists also believe in the principle of deterioration such that copying errors (mutations) results in a loss of genetic information. More specifically, creationists argue that as creatures experience different environments they become more specialized and lose some of the variation in their genetic code. This causes them to be less able to adapt in future environments. Genetic drift is also defined as something that is likely to occur in small, isolated populations, such that genes are lost because of random sampling among the population when organisms come from sexual reproduction. The founder effect is when a single pair of a species are separated from the rest of the population and develop a population from the single pair. This also results in a loss of information so that eventually the founder pair's progeny may no longer be able to interbreed with the rest of the group because so much information has been lost. This process explains how creatures evolved after the flood.
All species that exist today didn't exist back then, instead root species existed which diverged into multiple related species. Sarfati then goes through the "proof" for evolution given in the report. First is the resistance to bacteria to antibiotics. Although it explains it in terms of mutations that allow them to overcome antibiotics, there is little evidence for this. Generally, bacteria not resistant to antibiotics is killed out and all that is left is resistant antibiotics. Also, when mutation does occur that helps resist antibiotics, it is a loss of information or defect that occurs that just happens to be beneficial. He then goes into the finches and other breeds that are purported to have evolved for different purposes. Evolutionists claim that this process occurred by the addition of information by mutation to help them survive, but Creationists argue that these breeds all came from an ancestor with more genetic information (which is lost when the breeds become more specialized). Sarfati then goes into talking about the gaps in evolution-supporting fossils.
One of the examples is the evidence showing that present day species exist unchanged from prehistoric times. Another example is a creature that was supposed to be a transition between fish and land animals (according to fossil evidence), but then a live one was found and it was observed that the hypothesized use for its finds was completely wrong. Dating procedures also completely disagree with the time periods necessary for most purported transitional creatures. He also goes into the examples of dinosaur to bird links and how they are not supported by fossil evidence. Most of the transitional forms are simply an extinct species of bird. Whales also offer more evidence for the lack of transitional species. They would require the loss of the hip bone, which would be impossible while the creature was still a land animal because it would not be able to walk, but yet not be able to swim well either. Humans and apes are another example of the claim of missing links. Sarfait points out that most of the fossils claimed to be early humans are much more akin to extinct species of apes.
Sarfati then goes into cosmology and the origin of our galaxy, the big band, etc. He argues that there is much evidence showing that starts cannot be formed without other stars present. In other words, dust (i.e., heavier elements) is needed for H and He to adhere to, etc. so it becomes a chicken and the egg problem on whether stars or the dust needed to form stars appeared first. He then goes into the age of the earth and the controversy surrounding dating methods. He presents evidence for geologic formation based on a global flood vs. a gradual formation assumed by non-creationists. He then goes into dating methods and their flaws. Specifically, radiometric dating is based on assumptions that often aren't true. One of them is whether the rock has been contaminated, how much parent and daughter element was present originally, and the rate of decay has remained the same throughout time.
He points out many anomalies with dating methods. One is the dating of known rocks (volcano rocks) and how they are tremendously overestimated, one is the disagreement between methods, and one is the discovery of "older" rocks in layers that should be "younger". This supports the global flood interpretation rather than the gradual theory of geology. He ends the book talking about whether a design theory is legitimate. He uses many examples of how we normally detect "intelligent design" and argues that we should use the same criteria for life on earth. (less)