What Has Science Ever Done for Us? The Knowledge Wars Reviewed


Many people ask the same question of science. Since the 16th century science has given us electricity and anaesthetics, the internet and statins, the jumbo jet, vaccines and good anti-cancer drugs, the washing machine and the automobile. But what has it done for us lately?

In fact, for many people, what science has done for us lately hasn’t been dancin’ till one thought one would lose one’s breath. Rather, it has delivered emotionally-charged fights over issues such asvaccination, whether everyone should be taking statins, anthropogenic climate change, genetically modified foods, wind farms and high-tension power lines.

Indeed, while most of us are happy with most of the products of science — not least our iPods, white goods and light bulbs — when it comes to some of the more contentious issues of science we’re not such a happy bunch.

You only have to look at comment threads on articles about these topics to see just such unhappiness and disgruntlement. In such discussions, science isn’t a benign tool for understanding the natural world, but a villain intent on unleashing industries and technologies we don’t want, or forcing us to give up our SUVs or eat our broccoli.

In this sort of world you can understand why, when considering the state of things, many scientists have taken on slightly exasperated air.
We’ve all heard lines about “global conspiracies of scientists.” Yet no one who has a passing understanding of how science works could imagine getting a global community to agree on anything remotely doubtful.

At times The Knowledge Wars feels like a Wikipedia binge, ranging widely and wildly through invention and events of the last 500 years (although, to be fair, that’s often how I spend my Saturday nights). And, perhaps more fundamentally, it sorely misses a nuanced take on the economic sociology and history underpinning that period. For example, although central to much of scientific and social history of the last half millennium, “capitalism” doesn’t make it to the index.

But the bigger lament I have after reading The Knowledge Wars is one perhaps I share with Doherty. Modern science began with the birth of Renaissance men; with individuals who understood that wise governance requires an embrace of statecraft as well as high art and the latest advances in science.

Yet now, the very idea of Renaissance men and women seems anathema, a foolish dream that could never happen in this crazy mixed up world we now live in. But is that really so foolish?

1 Easy Way To Control Your Mind


The Truth Warrior

The Truth Warrior

Do you ever feel that your mind is overloaded with all that you have to do, be and have?

Life as we know it, has evolved to a much faster pace than what we were use to over 50 years ago. With the advances of technology, the way we communicate, the speed of our vehicles, the time pressures of work deadlines and the many other commitments in our lives, it seems that we simply don’t have time to relax and enjoy the moment. In this 21st century, our lives are much busier now, than they ever were. At times I wonder if all these changes and advances are really moving us to where we ultimately want to be, which is to be more peaceful and happy.

We all have experienced how it feels to be stressed out and our mind is full of thoughts of what we need to do…

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5 Skills of Power and How You Can Learn to Use Them


ideas.ted.com

Eric Liu is on a mission to make civics “as sexy as it was during the American Revolution or the Civil Rights Movement.” As he describes in today’s TED Talk (watch: Why ordinary people need to understand power), we are at a moment of crisis in the United States. The average person simply doesn’t know how to participate in local government, and this means that clout is disproportionately concentrated in the hands of the few who do. Liu’s solution to this imbalance? That we teach everyone the basic skills of power.

As the people of Ferguson, Missouri, stand up against police brutality, the topic of how to take back civic power is on many minds. Through Citizen University, Liu is creating a shared curriculum of power that will be available soon. In the meantime, he offers up several basic skills it will include, to help anyone interested in influencing change right now.

Skill #1: Understand the system.

“Before you…

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Making Sense of Big Data: Without It, Your Company’s Data Is Useless


Gigaom

Big data has become so big, it’s spread beyond the tech world. When 163-year-old publication New York Times hired a chief data scientist earlier this year, it became clear that even non-technical organizations were hopping on the big data train. To successfully predict what their customers want or how they might behave, companies that know how to mine big data — also know as companies who hire good data scientists — have the advantage.

To do their jobs effectively, data scientists must do a whole lotta dirty data work. The New York Times calls it “data janitor work.” In a recent article, NYT reported that data scientists spend from 50 percent to 80 percent of their time laboriously collecting and prepping data before it can be extracted into digestible insights.

“Data wrangling is a huge — and surprisingly so — part of the job,” Monica Rogati, VP for…

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