Sunday, December 16, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Interventions at every age from infancy to college can reduce racial gaps in both I.Q. and academic achievement
Whites showed better comprehension of sayings, better ability to recognize similarities and better facility with analogies — when solutions required knowledge of words and concepts that were more likely to be known to whites than to blacks. But when these kinds of reasoning were tested with words and concepts known equally well to blacks and whites, there were no differences. Within each race, prior knowledge predicted learning and reasoning, but between the races it was prior knowledge only that differed. What do we know about the effects of environment?
That environment can markedly influence I.Q. is demonstrated by the so-called Flynn Effect. James Flynn, a philosopher and I.Q. researcher in New Zealand, has established that in the Western world as a whole, I.Q. increased markedly from 1947 to 2002. In the United States alone, it went up by 18 points. Our genes could not have changed enough over such a brief period to account for the shift; it must have been the result of powerful social factors. And if such factors could produce changes over time for the population as a whole, they could also produce big differences between subpopulations at any given time.
In fact, we know that the I.Q. difference between black and white 12-year-olds has dropped to 9.5 points from 15 points in the last 30 years — a period that was more favorable for blacks in many ways than the preceding era. Black progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows equivalent gains. Reading and math improvement has been modest for whites but substantial for blacks. Most important, we know that interventions at every age from infancy to college can reduce racial gaps in both I.Q. and academic achievement, sometimes by substantial amounts in surprisingly little time. This mutability is further evidence that the I.Q. difference has environmental, not genetic, causes. And it should encourage us, as a society, to see that all children receive ample opportunity to develop their minds. « Previous Page Richard E. Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, is the author of “The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why.”
Saturday, December 08, 2007
- Why did the mapmaker name the territory America and then change his mind later?
- How was he able to draw South America so accurately?
- Why did he put a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific?
"That's the kind of conundrum, the question, that is still out there," said John Hebert, chief of the geography and map division of the Library of Congress.
The 12 sheets that make up the map, purchased from German Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg for $10 million in 2003, were mounted on Monday in a huge 6-foot by 9.5-foot (1.85 meter by 2.95 meter) display case machined from a single block of aluminum...
"From the writings of Vespucci you couldn't have prepared the map," Hebert said. "There had to be something cartographic with it."
MISGIVINGS ABOUT AMERICA
Waldseemuller made it clear he was naming the new land after Vespucci, describing how he came up with the name America based on the navigator's first name.
But he soon had misgivings about what he had done. An atlas Waldseemuller produced six years later shows only part of the east coast of the Americas, and refers to it as Terra Incognita -- unknown land.
"America has gone out of his lexicon," Hebert said. "(No) place in the atlas -- in the text or in the maps -- does the name America appear."...
Although the map conceals many mysteries, one thing is clear: it represents a revolutionary shift in the way Europe viewed the world.
"This is ... essentially the beginning or first map of the modern age, and it's one that everything builds on from that point forward," Hebert said. "It becomes a keystone map." (Editing by Eddie Evans) © Reuters2007 All rights reserved
The presence of certain bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract influences behavior and brain function. For example, challenge with live Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), a common food-born pathogen, reduces exploration of open arms of the plus maze, consistent with anxiety-like behavior, and activates brain regions associated with autonomic function, likely via a vagal pathway.
Solar distance and Earth gravity
The existence of liquid water, and to a lesser extent its gaseous and solid forms, on Earth is vital to the existence of life on Earth as we know it. The Earth is located in the habitable zone of the solar system; if it were slightly closer to or further from the Sun (about 5%, or 8 million kilometers or so), the conditions which allow the three forms to be present simultaneously would be far less likely to exist.
Earth's mass allows gravity to hold an atmosphere. Water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provide a greenhouse effect which helps maintain a relatively steady surface temperature. If Earth were smaller, a thinner atmosphere would cause temperature extremes preventing the accumulation of water except in polar ice caps (as on Mars).
It has been proposed that life itself may maintain the conditions that have allowed its continued existence. The surface temperature of Earth has been relatively constant through geologic time despite varying levels of incoming solar radiation (insolation), indicating that a dynamic process governs Earth's temperature via a combination of greenhouse gases and surface or atmospheric albedo. This proposal is known as the Gaia hypothesis.
The state of water also depends on a planet's gravity. If a planet is sufficiently massive, the water on it may be solid even at high temperatures, because of the high pressure caused by gravity.
Monday, November 19, 2007
We are still missing something big, and natural selection does not explain the full complexity of evolution
Like individuals in a population, species also struggle amongst themselves to survive, and most become extinct over time. Species can also die out in mass extinctions, such as the one that caused the demise of the dinosaurs. Today we may be in the throes of another mass extinction, caused by human overexploitation of habitats... Secret code
Darwin was able to establish natural selection, without any understanding of the genetic mechanisms of inheritance, or the source of novel variation in a population. His own theory on the transmission of traits, called pangenesis, was completely wrong.
It was not until Gregor Mendel and the start of the 20th century that the genetic mechanism of inheritance began to be revealed. We now know that most traits, such as skin colour, eye colour and blood group are determined by our DNA and genes. During the 20th century, evolutionary biologists such as Ernst Mayr, J.B.S. Haldane, Julian Huxley, and Theodosius Dobzhansky combined Darwinian evolution with our emerging knowledge of genetics to produce the "modern synthesis" that we call evolutionary biology today.
Most genes come in a variety of forms, one inherited from each parent. The varieties are known as alleles, and encode slightly different traits. The incidence of different traits, or alleles, in a population is driven by natural selection and genetic drift, which can randomly reduce genetic variation. Today, evolution is defined as the change in the frequency of alleles in populations over time.
New traits are introduced into populations by gene flow from other populations or by mutation. Mutation is a change in the structure of a gene and can be caused by errors in copying DNA, carcinogenic chemicals, viruses, UV-light and radiation. Most mutations are neutral, having no effect on gene function; others are harmful, such as the ones that cause inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis. Rarely mutations can lead to beneficial new traits, such as increased resistance to malaria.
Today evolutionary biologists are largely divided into two camps. The pro-selectionists such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Pinker, Edward O Wilson, Matt Ridley, Mark Ridley and Jared Diamond believe in the primacy of natural selection as the principle guiding evolution. Others such as Niles Eldredge, Stephen J. Gould, Brian Goodwin, Stuart Kauffman and Steven Rose argue that we are still missing something big, and that natural selection does not explain the full complexity of evolution. Instant Expert: Evolution 11:41 04 September 2006 NewScientist.com news service John Pickrell
Created Equal from: William Saletan Liberal creationism Posted Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007, at 7:57 AM ET
Positive suggestions, detachment from the illness, a state of cheerfulness and trust and even guided imageries are helpful
When the writer is fully conscious, when he inscribes some deep truth and has a sense of beauty and harmony in his calligraphy, when he is deliberate in his writing and knows the rules of the game of life, then he remains free of afflictions. But if he is casual, full of error and jumble, confused within and ignorant outside, then his language of life shares this defect and reveals this imperfection. Even if we correct a letter or a word here and there, he continues to mis-spell and his sentences become a jumble. There are two ways to avoid these errors which translate as an illness.
- One is not to write much and to keep it all simple, perhaps very simple. Those who have a rudimentarily developed consciousness, whose life is full of a natural ease and a spontaneous simplicity with few wants and needs, avoid the errors of life that come by sheer excesses. They have few characters in their play, some small hopes and very few anxieties and fear.
- The second way is to go to the other pole of a complex and developed consciousness with many characters in the play and a rather complicated script. For these, the only way is to discover the harmony of a higher divine Perfection. For while a short and simple script can be managed by a novice, a large and complex script needs a Master Artist.
This Master Artist is within us as the Lord of Life. Either we must live with the sense of a carefree albeit unconscious surrender to His delegate Nature, or else, do consciously and in detail what the simple creatures of Nature do spontaneously and unconsciously through her. That is to say, place our entire being consciously and willfully in the Hands of the Divine Master of Life through a detailed and integral yoga so that He takes up our pen and ink and erasing our errors rewrites the script and the drama of our life afresh.
This is the secret art we are here to learn. Till we learn that, till we hang between the animal simplicity and the divine spontaneity, we shall only exchange one error for another, correct the deformed letter but leave the word mis-spelt and lose thereby the meaning of life and our manifold existence because we knew only the form of letters but not the language, the structural aspects of the hieroglyph but not its meaning and sense.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
According to popular belief as women menstruate, which is a sing of fertility, so also Mother Earth menstruates. So all three days of the festival are considered to be the menstruating period of Mother Earth. During the festival all agricultural operations remain suspended. As in Hindu homes menstruating women remain secluded because of impurity and do not even touch anything and are given full rest, so also the Mother Earth is given full rest for three days for which all agricultural operations are stopped. Significantly, it is a festival of the unmarried girls, the potential mothers. They all observe the restrictions prescribed for a menstruating woman. The very first day, they rise before dawn, do their coiffeur, annoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil and then take the purificatory bath in a river or tank. Peculiarly, bathing for the rest two days is prohibited. They don't walk bare-foot do not scratch the earth, do not grind, do not tear anything apart, do not cut and do not cook. During all the three consecutive days they are seen in the best of dresses and decorations, eating cakes and rich food at the houses of friends and relatives, spending long cheery hours, moving up and down on improvised swings, rending the village sky with their merry impromptu songs. The swings are of different varieties, such as Ram Doli, Charki Doli, Pata Doli, Dandi Doli etc. Songs specially meant for the festival speak of love, affection, respect, social behaviour and everything of social order that comes to the minds of the singers. Through anonymous and composed extempore, much of these songs, through shere beauty of diction and sentiment, have earned permanence and have gone to make the very substratum of Orissa's folk-poetry.
While girls thus scatter beauty, grace and music all around, moving up and down on the swings during the festival, young men give themselves to strenuous games and good food, on the eve of the onset of the monsoons which will not give them even a minute's respite for practically four months making them one with mud, slush and relentless showers, their spirits keep high with only the hopes of a good harvest. As all agricultural activities remain suspended and a joyous atmosphere pervades, the young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being kabadi. Competitions are also held between different groups of villages. All nights 'Yatra' performances or 'Gotipua' dances are arranged in prosperous villages where they can afford the professional groups. Plays and other kinds of entertainment are also arranged by enthusiastic amateurs.
The special variety of cake prepared out of recipes like rice-powder, molasses, coconut, camphor, ghee etc. goes in the name of Poda Pitha (burnt cake). The size of the cake varies according to the number of family members. Cakes are also exchanged among relatives and friends. Young girls do not take rice during the three-day festival and sustain only with this type of cake, fried-rice(mudi) and vegetable curry. HOME :: SEARCH :: CONTACT US COMING TO ORISSA :: HOTELS
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
This might be because the crops that people raise tend to be the most convenient ones, rather than the most nutritious. Wheat, rice and corn – the foods that "provide the bulk of the calories consumed today" – are "high in simple carbohydrates which promote weight gain", but each lacks essential nutrients.
So you can see what's happening – to put it simply, human beings are evolving much more slowly than the food we eat. And the food is tricking us. We think it's what we need, but it's just what we want. What can we do? Eat sensibly and exercise, of course. One thing we have to do, though, is "not to listen to your body" – because it craves food that, in abundance, is bad for it.
Barrett is big on exercise. We evolved to enjoy sitting around because, in hunter-gatherer times, we had to walk and jog and climb so much that sitting around was the right thing to do. Now we have to earn it. The good news, she says, is that, if you make exercise a habit, it stays with you.
This is a clear, well-written and thoughtful guide to the fat crisis. The advice is simple. Eat healthy food. Then do a lot of exercise. Then you'll be fine. telegraph.co.uk 27/09/2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
New study reveals why restricting calories may lead to longevity By Nikhil Swaminathan Scientific American, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Deification of victimhood; the supremacy of feelings over reason, and the glorification of self-esteem over self-control
THERAPEUTIC SENSIBILITY, PSYCHOBABBLE, AND POSTMODERNISM