Thinking

Hype on the Higgs

The media is aglow with reports of the likely discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson particle, which completes the standard model of particle physics.

There is still a chance for error, but it's currently 5-in-10-million chance - the 5 sigma mark for acceptable particle physics theories.

The discovery cost Stephen Hawking $100 in a bet.

Celebration as Higgs-Boson is finally discovered   New Scientist
Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC   BBC News
Particle's discovery points to a firmer grasp of physics   NY Times
Thinking

Citizen science?

Can science be crowd-sourced to the general population?

A Huffington Post article cites a few examples of successes in such citizen science, such as inviting people to a Galaxy Zoo, where they can classify the shapes of galaxies (which the human brain does much better than computers).

However, major problems can arise when citizens get involved too early in the process.  The major example right now is climate change.  The issue has gone far beyond science into politics, and now scientists must convince large swathes of people before that there is a problem to begin with before they even get on to finding a solution.

Can science be crowd-scourced?   Huffington Post
Thinking

James Lovelock revises his views on climate change, green movement

Lovelock is now moderating some of his more dire predictions, saying he was "alarmist" to some degree.

While this will no doubt be painted by opponents as a total 180-degree turn around, it is not so.  Lovelock still believes climate change is happening and it is caused by humanity, but not at such a severe rate as he once thought.  He criticizes greens and climate change deniers alike.

Far from an abandonment of the environmentalism, Lovelock's statement is actually a shining moment of scientific integrity.  He tells the Guardian:

“One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”


Green "drivel": The godfather of global warming lowers the boom on climate change hysteria    Toronto Sun
"Gaia" scientist James Lovelock: I was "alarmist" about climate change   MSNBC.com
James Lovelock: The UK should be going mad for fracking   The Guardian
James Lovelock on shale gas and the problem with the "greens"   The Guardian
Thinking

Self-esteem and the paradox of compassion

Researchers are finding that self-esteem boosts are not always good, but can have both good and bad consequences.  Better than spewing praise upon children is praising them for genuine accomplishments, and helping them develop the willpower to achieve those accomplishments.  Further, studies are supporting the age-old wisdom that helping others (compassionate action) is the best way to help yourself (boost your self-esteem).

The curse of Generation Me   New Scientist

Interpersonal goals, others' regard for the self, and self-esteem: The paradoxical consequences of self-image and compassionate goals   European Journal of Social Psychology