Metallica

Metallica in concert (Source: Big Concerts)


Last week I was really lucky in that I was able to go see Metallica live in concert! In case you don’t know, they are a heavy metal band, active since 1981 and have won nine Grammy Awards (although I only see eight on their Wikipedia page). Metallica was amazing but the concert organisation left something to be desired. Continue reading

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Necessary criticism is not “Islamophobia”

There have been a long string of articles recently that have accused atheists, particularly the big names in atheism, of being Islamophobic:

Conversations about the practical impossibility of God’s existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling. The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason.

There are too many articles and too many angles of attack for me to read them all and respond here, however I’d point you to this post on Why Evolution is True which has rebuttals for 7 of the complaints raised in the articles. Continue reading

Mendeley part 2

It’s (entirely by coincidence) exactly a year since I first wrote about Mendeley and promoted it as a reference manager, something I continued to do when the subject came up. I was of course a bit disappointed to read now that Mendeley and Elsevier have joined together! Elsevier is an academic publisher with a less-than-stellar reputation. The only time I think I’ve mentioned it has been discussing the large boycott of it by various academics. It’s definitely left me feeling a little uncomfortable but they maintain it’s not going to change how they operate so I guess for now I’ll wait and see what happens.

Quicklinks: Animal intelligence, abuse and some cool posts

To keep to on a topic I’ve put a bit of effort into documenting I have a short press release about a metacognition in chimps.

This pattern of behavior reflects a controlled information-seeking capacity that serves to support intelligent responding, and it strongly suggests that our closest living relative has metacognitive abilities closely related to those of humans.

This is also important when considering the next two links, about bills in the US designed to prevent documenting of animal abuse. There is an attempt to disrupt animal rights activists by making it a crime to infiltrate farming facilities and record abuse of animals. This isn’t about them doing anything disruptive, merely to stop them building a case and reporting abuse to authorities. This deliberately prevents people from knowing what is going on in the industry and there are fears similar laws could spread around the world.

Then to buoy your spirit you can see these two cool stories. One about bees moving each other with electrical fields (and there’s a link to more about bees and electricity inside) and one about the historical value of island weapons. If you don’t want the history then let me say it’s also a chance to see swords made from shark teeth!

Who are we really?

At the beginning of this year I alluded to a piece I had written for the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement Young Science Communicator’s Competition. The competition results are now available and, unfortunately, I did not win anything. I’m not aware of anything preventing me from sharing my entry with you though so here it is. Continue reading

What did science and religion discover last year?

My first attempt at reblogging. Don’t know exactly how it’ll look but it’s a worthwhile comparison between science and religion.

Why Evolution Is True

THE CLAIMS

“The question of truth is as central to [religion’s] concern as it is in science. Religious belief can guide one in life or strengthen one at the approach of death, but unless it is actually true it can do neither of these things and so would amount to no more than an illusionary exercise in comforting fantasy.”  —John Polkinghorne

“On the contrary, religion is about the deepest of all realities. . . religion, to anyone who takes it seriously, is about what is Most Real.”—John Haught

“Both [science and theology] continue in the quest for truth.  Both continue to make claims and argue for them. A kind of alliance of stubborn truth-seeking is formed here.” —Anna Case-Winters

“A religious tradition is indeed a way of life and not a set of abstract ideas. But a way of life presupposes beliefs about the nature of reality and cannot be…

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Was Varsity Newspaper’s article racist?

UCT's dating poll (source: News24)

UCT’s dating poll (source: News24)

It seems a graph in UCT’s student newspaper, Varsity Newspaper, has caused quite a bit of a stir after publishing a pie chart with the title, “UCT votes on most attractive race.” (Story on News24 and iol.)

With South Africa’s extreme sensitivity to racial issues it didn’t take long for people to start denouncing the paper. According to News24:

Some Twitter users, including human rights activist Zackie Achmat, voiced their disapproval. @ZackieAchmat referred to the chart as “racist nonsense”. Another user, @ednake89 tweeted “this is the kind of bullshit UCT’s Varsity newspaper publishes”.

Continue reading