Thursday, May 26, 2011

Raiding a Brothel in my city, the City of Joy

Those who know me and my views are aware that I rarely see eye to eye with the famed New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof. A twice-winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, as well as winner of various other awards, Kristof has impeccable credentials and is engaged in laudable social work. But his political arguments and world-views leave a lot to be desired, and can at best be described as 'wishy-washy' in a Charlie Brown-ish way.

Be that as it may, when Kristof sticks to reporting facts, he is a fabulous and intrepid journalist. His May 25, 2011, Op Ed in the New York Times ("Raiding a Brothel in India") is at once fascinating and horrifying.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Human Echolocation: Ed Yong's Article on a PLoS One Study

Ed Yong (@edyong209 on Twitter) is a fabulous British science writer and blogger, who won in 2010 the prestigious National Academies Communication Awards, jointly presented by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. His writing has been featured in New Scientist, the Times, WIRED, the Guardian, Nature amongst other places, and he currently blogs ("Not Exactly Rocket Science") at the Discover Magazine website.

Most of my readers here, I expect, already read and follow him. If you haven't had the pleasure, don't delay. Ed is a fantastic writer, very readable, and he presents the awe-inspiring and glorious world of science in a lucid enjoyable manner. I follow his blog religiously.

In a recent post, Ed presents a fascinating study - published in PLoS One - about how some blind human beings are able to use the technique of Echolocation; they make clicking noises with their tongue (or with an object like a cane) and - from the rebounding echoes - they are able to estimate not only the presence of objects in their paths, but also the distance, size, shape and texture of those objects. Much in the same way as dolphins and bats do, these people can "see" their world in sound. Daredevil, anyone?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fresh Saga of Apologists for Religion Falling Over Backwards

The Religious and the Faithful across the world are quite diligent in trying to spread their beliefs around. Clearly, their intellectual laziness (inherent in their stance embracing 'goddidit' as a single unifying explanation of all natural phenomena) does not dull their proselytizing fervor. As a result, every so often, studies spring up purporting to show how deep and inherent religious belief is to the human nature. Whichever way these studies are constructed, the conclusions - always delivered with a hint of smugness - often seem to be the same:
(1) Religion and religious belief are deep-rooted and universal,
(2) They ain't goin' away nowhere,
(3) Atheists, just deal with it.

A new study from Oxford University under the aegis of the Cognition, Religion and Theology Project (funded by none other than the John Templeton Foundation - of course!), brings forth more of the same.