Rational self maintenance

People shower a lot. On average, every day. Scientists seem to think that the amount we need to shower is more like once or twice a week. I’m on the scientific end of the spectrum in winter, and more average in summer when it’s disgustingly hot here. My main problem with showers in winter is that eventually you have to get out of them. So apparently daily showers are yet another thing we were convinced to do by advertisers, in order to sell more product.

Soylent and Proposition 65

Lots of people have been gleefully reposting links to a PR Newswire press release from a group who are suing the makers of Soylent for failing to comply with California’s Proposition 65. Test results commissioned by As You Sow, conducted by an independent laboratory, show that one serving of Soylent 1.5 can expose a consumer to a concentration of lead that is 12 to 25 times above California’s Safe Harbor level for reproductive health, and a concentration of cadmium that is at least 4 times greater than the Safe Harbor level for cadmium.

Tim Hunt backlash

Professor Richard Dawkins is demanding an apology from those who criticised Sir Tim Hunt over a leaked EU report he claims gives vital context to comments the Nobel laureate scientist made about his “trouble with girls” in laboratories. But… Many science journalists were at the lunch and witnessed the whole thing, including Deborah Blum, Ivan Oransky, Charles Seife, and Connie St. Louis. After discussing what they saw and heard, they decided St.

Of fascism and functional programming

There’s been a fuss in some circles about the fact that Curtis Yarvin was uninvited from a tech conference after the organizers learned of his political views, which he publishes under the pen name “Mencius Moldbug”. I don’t particularly want to discuss his political views or whether he should be invited to speak at conferences; rather, I want to point out something I haven’t seen anyone else point out. But before I get to that, I feel like I should provide a little background for those who have been lucky enough not to encounter the “Moldbug” oeuvre.

Deconstructing “race science”

After I posted a quote from Ta Nehesi-Coates about The Bell Curve, a poster asked (paraphrased): OK, so that study is flawed, but how do we know that the various races are intellectually equal? My answer is basically that “race” doesn’t correspond to any systematic genetic difference that might mean anything when compared to measured intelligence, assuming we could even define and measure intelligence. But I feel like that answer needs more unpacking and detail around it, so here goes.

Health Kick: Your mileage may vary

Where I’m coming from I’m mostly vegetarian, and definitely not vegan. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) My vegetarianism is mostly a matter of taste preference — I’ve never enjoyed the taste of meat, right from early childhood. I only liked eating meat if it was processed to hide the texture, and put in plenty of sauce to hide the taste. Once I stopped living with my parents I figured I might as well find other things to put in sauce.

A few words for global warming skeptics

[Updated 2013-06-26.] If you’re still considering yourself a ‘global warming skeptic’ in 2012, then we need to talk. Let’s start off by looking at Wikipedia’s summary of scientific opinion on climate change, and look at the list of statements by dissenting organizations. It notes that since 2007, no national or international scientific body has made any statement rejecting the reality of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. The last organization to express ‘skepticism’?

The man who dies every day

A month ago, I wrote about myself and other myths–some interesting scientific results from research into the nature of consciousness. I missed a couple, however. For many years, scientists have studied the nature of sleep, and of dreams. These studies have started to overlap with those looking at the nature of consciousness. One experiment involves stimulating the brain using transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, and watching the outcome on an FMRI scanner as the patient is gradually anesthetized or allowed to fall asleep.

Myself, and other myths

I just watched a BBC documentary, Horizon: The Secret You, about recent results in the scientific study of consciousness. There were three experiments discussed in the program which seemed to me to be particularly key. The first experiment was carried out at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. It involves having the subject wear a stereoscopic VR helmet attached to two video cameras. Using this simple apparatus, the subject can be given an out-of-body experience, without drugs or meditation.

Unintentional political comment

The Science Museum of Minnesota plans to shut down during the Republican National Convention next year so it can host convention events. Presumably they’ll cover up the scary exhibits with drop cloths.