Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Remote control brains?

Yep....remote controlled brains.

Obviously this is still research in the most rudimentary and basic stages, but the potential is kind of astounding. As with any basic research there are still huge hurdles to surmount before any of this becomes practical in any way, but hey....proof of concept is enough to get you exicted, no?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When Politics gets in the way of Science

Genetic Future : Should scientists study race and IQ?

I haven't read the referenced articles yet - and to be honest I'm quite sure I won't. I'm not sure I could stomach the "no we shouldn't" article.

I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. MacArthur's thoughts concerning the necessity of studying ALL aspects of a topic that can be effectively studied through scientific methodologies. I also agree that letting politics get in the way or simply eliminating scientific inquiry because the issue is highly socially charged is a huge mistake.

I feel compelled to mention the idea that there are certain topics where preliminary scientific inquiry has emboldened one side of a debate to claim that there is scientific consensus that their side of the issue is the correct or even the only rational or ethical side to take (can anyone say global warming debate?). This is also a mistake as it will stifle true scientific inquiry. Confirmation bias is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in science, the more political or social stake is attached to an issue, the more value is given to finding "evidence" to support the "consensus" - and that sounds an awful lot like strengthening the effect of confirmation bias.

True, unbiased, scientific inquiry is hard enough to do without having the hopes and expectations of hoards of political/social activists (and the influence/money they control) waiting in the wings to reward scientists that confirm their agenda or excoriate those that disagree with them. Unfortunately, that is the climate we work in and what we have to deal with. This climate exists in EVERY political climate - if Republicans or Democrats are in charge the only thing that changes is the agenda. The influence and the consequences thereof are still just as present.

Subliminal messaging

Subliminal messages really do affect your decisions - life - 14 February 2009 - New Scientist

Well, the overall result would seem to not necessarily confirm the long-standing belief that I can convince you to do nearly anything with subliminal messages, but at least with visual images our brains seem to register things in the background while we aren't really paying attention.

Not quite the earth-shattering finding the title suggests, but still, an interesting finding nevertheless.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What is the source of happiness?

The New Science of Happiness - TIME

This is an article from a while back (2005) - but it is still worth looking at. I was reminded of this article through a hyperlink embedded in this article.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Listening to cells think/communicate

BBC NEWS | TODAY | Tom Feilden's blog | Do cells think...and is this what it sounds like?

This is a somewhat freaky sound recording, but be sure to pay attention to the caveat that the sound was "processed to sound like a human voice" - so essentially the signal characteristics of neurons communicating was processed heavily until it could simulate sound.

Still....that is very cool.