Tuesday, July 28, 2015

what is the 4th amendment under panoptic surveillance and longitudinal genetic and behavioral records?

shtfplan |  Minority Report, eat your heart out. The real system is worse than anyone could have imagined.

By now, everybody knows that the NSA and a host of other alphabet agencies are spying on Americans, collecting virtually every piece of communications data they exchange, regardless of whether or not they are “doing anything wrong.”

But what are they doing with it?

Apart from its value in consumer and marketing fields, the data is used to create “threat assessments” and put a black mark on the record of anyone who the authorities deem troublesome that will follow them throughout their career, and make it harder for individuals to get a job, qualify for a loan, travel, or enjoy the rights of a (now once) free society.

Our government want us to believe that EVERY student is a potential threat and we need threat to stop them.
Every student is given a “THREAT ASSESSMENT” by police and school administrators!
Schools and police are using V-STAG to assess a ‘threat level:
“The Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (V-STAG) is a school-based manualized process designed to help school administrators, mental health staff, and law enforcement officers assess and respond to threat incidents involving students in kindergarten through 12th grade and prevent student violence.”
The war on terror is out of control! Watch out that kindergarten kid could be a threat!
This program and others like it have been developed at the federal level, with FBI involvement, and coordinated across local, state and private organizations. The idea, unfortunately, is to implement this watch-and-flag surveillance grid across the system at every level, and with every institution that people must participate in.

Hey, if it works for prisoners, it would be great for a once free society. Fist tap Big Don

nowhere near established science yet admissable in a court of law?

nih.gov |  Are all humans innately and equally capable of inflicting harm on others? Do we learn by our various experiences to manipulate and even harm others for our own personal gain; or conversely, to be kind and benevolent, offering help even at costs to ourselves? Although these fundamental questions pertaining to the nature of human aggression have plagued scientists and laypersons for centuries, some answers can be found in research spanning the last few decades.

The early experiments of Milgram (1963) made it clear that, under certain circumstances, individuals can be coaxed into aggression and violence. The presence of a strict authority and removal of personal responsibility for one's actions can result in aggressive behaviors that inflict harm on others. The infamous Stanford prison experiment (Haney et al., 1973) also demonstrated that the propensity toward violence and aggression can be elicited—extremely and unexpectedly—in situations, where a legitimized ideology and a powerful authority can lead to impressionability and obedience.

Yet, while these powerful studies revealed the importance of social factors in inducing aggressive behaviors, not all individuals responded in an equally aggressive manner. In Milgram's (1963) first set of experiments, while 65% (26 of 40) of participants complied with the instruction to administer what they believed to be a final, massive 450-volt shock, the remaining 35% did not comply. Many of those who engaged in the aggressive behavior stated they were very uncomfortable doing so, and every participant reportedly questioned the experiment at some point or refused money promised for their study participation (Milgram, 1963). Although the studies by Milgram and Zimbardo provide clear evidence for the role of environment and social situations in affecting aggressive behavior, there are, nonetheless, large individual differences in the propensity for violence and aggression, even under these extreme circumstances.

What factors contribute to individual differences in aggression? Behavioral genetic studies of family members' resemblance for aggressive behavior help shed light on the matter. Twin and adoption studies agree with the experimental literature on aggression, which shows that a large effect of environmental factors is evident, particularly of the nonshared variety. Yet, there is also plenty of evidence, based on a variety of definitions of aggressive behavior from children to adults, for genetic propensity toward aggression (see reviews by Burt, 2009; Miles and Carey, 1997; Rhee and Waldman, 2002). Although few behavioral genetic studies have explicitly examined the question of gene by environment (G × E) interactions, we contend that such interactions are likely to exist and that the genetic propensity for aggression should exert its effects more strongly in some situations than others. Consistent with the early findings of Milgram and Zimbardo, individual genetic predispositions should moderate the extent to which aggression can be elicited, even in extreme situations such as these infamous studies. Our view is that while many, if not most, humans may have the potential for aggression and violence under the right circumstances, not all individuals will succumb to these behaviors under the same circumstances.

This chapter will review recent evidence of genetic and environmental influences on human aggression, with particular attention to several key questions and issues.

behavioral genetics - bad science and worse just-so storytelling...,

scientificamerican |  Last spring, I kicked up a kerfuffle by proposing that research on race and intelligence, given its potential for exacerbating discrimination, should be banned. Now Nature has expanded this debate with "Taboo Genetics." The article "looks at four controversial areas of behavioral genetics"—intelligence, race, violence and sexuality—"to find out why each field has been a flashpoint, and whether there are sound scientific reasons for pursuing such studies."

The essay provides a solid overview, including input from both defenders of behavioral genetics and critics. The author, Erika Check Hayden, quotes me saying that research on race and intelligence too often bolsters "racist ideas about the inferiority of certain groups, which plays into racist policies."
I only wish that Hayden had repeated my broader complaint against behavioral genetics, which attempts to explain human behavior in genetic terms. The field, which I've been following since the late 1980s, has a horrendous track record. My concerns about the potential for abuse of behavioral genetics are directly related to its history of widely publicized, erroneous claims.

I like to call behavioral genetics "gene whiz science," because "advances" so often conform to the same pattern. Researchers, or gene-whizzers, announce: There’s a gene that makes you gay! That makes you super-smart! That makes you believe in God! That makes you vote for Barney Frank! The media and the public collectively exclaim, "Gee whiz!"

Follow-up studies that fail to corroborate the initial claim receive little or no attention, leaving the public with the mistaken impression that the initial report was accurate—and, more broadly, that genes determine who we are.

Over the past 25 years or so, gene-whizzers have discovered "genes for" high IQ, gambling, attention-deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia, alcoholism, heroin addiction, extroversion, introversion, anxiety, anorexia nervosa, seasonal affective disorder, violent aggression—and so on. So far, not one of these claims has been consistently confirmed by follow-up studies.

These failures should not be surprising, because all these complex traits and disorders are almost certainly caused by many different genes interacting with many different environmental factors. Moreover, the methodology of behavioral geneticists is highly susceptible to false positives. Researchers select a group of people who share a trait and then start searching for a gene that occurs not universally and exclusively but simply more often in this group than in a control group. If you look at enough genes, you will almost inevitably find one that meets these criteria simply through chance. Those who insist that these random correlations are significant have succumbed to the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

To get a sense of just how shoddy behavioral genetics is, check out my posts on the "liberal gene," "gay gene" and God gene" (the latter two "discovered" by Dean Hamer, whose record as a gene-whizzer is especially abysmal); and on the MAOA-L gene, also known as the "warrior gene." Also see this post, where I challenge defenders of behavioral genetics to cite a single example of a solid, replicated finding.

no easy answer - but them bowl haircuts though...,

nature |  Connecticut’s state medical examiner has requested a full genetic analysis of mass killer Adam Lanza, who shot 20 children, 6 school staff, his mother and himself in Newtown in December. At first glance, it is easy to understand why. Confronted with such senseless violence, it is human nature to seek solace in scientific explanations. After John Wayne Gacy was executed in 1994 for the murder of 33 young men and boys, his brain was preserved and examined for clues to what made him a monster. More than 80 years ago, scientists reportedly studied the brain of serial killer Peter Kürten, the ‘vampire of Dusseldorf’, who was executed in 1931.

This quest to understand endures as technology advances. Now, instead of looking at cranial folds and frontal lobes for clues to the massacre, geneticists at the University of Connecticut in Farmington will scour Lanza’s genes. On its own, this hunt will be about as informative as studies of the brains of murderers: not very.

The Connecticut scientists will not talk about the job they have been handed. It is not clear what they will find, or even what they should look for. Suspend disbelief for a moment and pretend that a ‘mass-shooter gene’ exists — something that no serious geneticist believes — and scientists could still draw no conclusions from a single individual’s genome.

To be sure, many links and suggestions of links have been identified between genetics, mental illness and, to a lesser extent, violence. A study using Swedish registries (R. Kuja-Halkola et al. Dev. Psychopathol. 24, 739–753; 2012) found that children born to men older than 60 were more likely to be convicted of violent crimes than were those born to men aged 40–60 years, an observation that might be linked to increasing numbers of mutations in sperm as men age. Genetic risk factors have been identified for autism, depression and schizoid spectrum disorders, but they explain relatively little. People diagnosed with schizoid spectrum disorders are more likely to be convicted of violent crimes than are those with no such diagnosis, but the vast majority of people with mental illness do not commit crimes.

Such associations hold only for groups. Many healthy people carry mutations associated with disease; many people with mental illness carry no known risk factors. Mass shooters are often young white men, yet very few young white men become mass shooters. There is no one-to-one relationship between genetics and mental health or between mental health and violence. Something as simple as a DNA sequence cannot explain anything as complex as behaviour.

But there is a dangerous tendency to oversimplify, especially in the wake of tragedy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

can biologists fix economics?

newscientist |  THE GLOBAL financial crisis of 2008 took the world by surprise. Few mainstream economists saw it coming. Most were blind even to the possibility of such a catastrophic collapse. Since then, they have failed to agree on the interventions required to fix it. But it’s not just the crash: there is a growing feeling that orthodox economics can’t provide the answers to our most pressing problems, such as why inequality is spiralling. No wonder there’s talk of revolution.

Earlier this year, several dozen quiet radicals met in a boxy red building on the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, to plot just that. The stated aim of this Ernst Strüngmann Forum at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies was to create “a new synthesis for economics”. But the most zealous of the participants – an unlikely alliance of economists, anthropologists, ecologists and evolutionary biologists – really do want to overthrow the old regime. They hope their ideas will mark the beginning of a new movement to rework economics using tools from more successful scientific disciplines.

Drill down, and it’s not difficult to see where mainstream “neoclassical” economics has gone wrong. Since the 19th century, economies have essentially been described with mathematical formulae. This elevated economics above most social sciences and allowed forecasting. But it comes at the price of ignoring the complexities of human beings and their interactions – the things that actually make economic systems tick.

The problems start with Homo economicus, a species of fantasy beings who stand at the centre of orthodox economics. All members of H. economicus think rationally and act in their own self-interest at all times, never learning from or considering others.

We’ve known for a while now that Homo sapiens is not like that (see “Team humanity“). Over the years, there have been various attempts to inject more realism into the field by incorporating insights into how humans actually behave. Known as behavioural economics, this approach has met with some success in microeconomics – the study of how individuals and small groups make economic decisions. It has persuaded governments to “nudge” people into doing what’s best for the economy, influencing behaviour by more subtle forms of persuasion than financial inducements. In 2010, the UK government set up the Behavioural Insights Team (known as the Nudge Unit) and the White House established something similar in the US in February last year.

killer-ape antics rooted in food supply and resource security - religion and ideology are merely post hoc conversation...,

theatlantic |  A paper published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences specifically connects a severe drought across the Levant to the Syrian conflict.

The case isn’t a direct one. “Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record,” the authors write, arguing that the drought is connected to a long-term change in the climate in the Eastern Mediterranean. “For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest.” ISIS existed in different form, as the Islamic State of Iraq, prior to the outbreak of the civil war, but the collapse of the Syrian state, combined with the fecklessness of the Iraqi armed forces and government, allowed the group to expand its reach and influence, and declare a caliphate.

Of course, scientists and security consultants get nervous when the media covers studies such as this one. They worry, in particular, about the impression that wars can be reduced to a single cause. (As one told The Guardian in May about the PNAS study, “I’ll put this in a crude way: No amount of climate change is going to cause civil violence in the state where I live (Massachusetts), or in Sweden or many other places around the world.”) Still, O’Malley did a pretty good job compressing the study’s findings into a short explanation and contextualizing it as creating the conditions for ISIS’s success, rather than drawing a direct causal link between climate change and the Islamic State.

It’s easy to see how the baldest summary of this claim—a presidential candidate says that global warming created a huge jihadist group!—comes across as silly. But the unfortunate reality is that climate change will likely produce more evidence in the years ahead of the connection between resource scarcity and war—whether it’s fodder for presidential campaigns or not.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

simply about power...,

Listen, Little Man

WaPo |  Repeatedly, it’s a dynamic that has shown itself to be monstrous as the cameras are rolling. The Bland arrest happened at a moment when American policing seems too often unhinged. And the ability to alter or take people’s lives rests in the hands of officers who, when confronted in a job that requires a deft touch for de-escalation, seem criminally unable to get a hold of themselves. 

I’m the po-lice! I can do anything I want. You’re nobody deserving of a more thoughtful interaction. And there’s no societal pressure or apparently internal or human code that calls me to treat you the way I’d want somebody to treat my mother or sister or daughter. Even if I’m asking you, you don’t get to admit to a range of emotions, including, irritation — your job is to endure, or just serve up some of that forgiveness because we can’t get enough of that. 

I wish Bland had put out that cigarette. Then maybe she wouldn’t have sat in jail. Because these are the margins of life — everybody’s life and, Lord knows, black life — when you’re dealing with the police. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

racetards, bibtards, the god of the stupid - useful idiocy in service to hardcore racist elites...,

billmoyers |  Conventional wisdom holds that the rise of the religious right as a political force to be reckoned with during the 1970s and 1980s was driven by conservative Christians’ intense opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. But Dartmouth College’s Randall Balmer writes that “the abortion myth quickly collapses under historical scrutiny.” He notes that “it wasn’t until 1979 — a full six years after Roe — that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but …. because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools.”

When Roe was first decided, most of the Southern evangelicals who today make up the backbone of the anti-abortion movement believed that abortion was a deeply personal issue in which government shouldn’t play a role. Some were hesitant to take a position on abortion because they saw it as a “Catholic issue,” and worried about the influence of Catholic teachings on American religious observance.

Shortly after the decision was handed down, The Baptist Press, a wire service run by the Southern Baptist Convention — the biggest Evangelical organization in the US — ran an op-ed praising the ruling. “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision,” read the January 31, 1973, piece by W. Barry Garrett, The Baptist Press’s Washington bureau chief.

when the god of the stupid infected the american body politic...,

HuffPo |  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, evangelical Christians widely believed the Bible says life begins at birth and supported looser abortion policies.

That was my argument in an Oct. 31 op-ed for CNN, titled, "When evangelicals were pro-choice." Understandably, not all evangelical leaders were pleased. Mark Galli at Christianity Today called the op-ed a "fake history" in the title of a response article, even while going on to say the facts in the article are actually true. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, issued a more honest response, conceding that many "evangelicals did hold to embarrassingly liberal positions on the abortion issue (including, I must admit, the Southern Baptist Convention)." But both said that the change in evangelical opinion was not driven by a late-1970s political mobilization effort.

Given the enduring importance of evangelical anti-abortion activism, the reality and significance of this history deserves fuller discussion.

That mainstream evangelical leaders widely held liberal views on abortion at the time is undeniable. These were the dominant evangelical views.

In 1968, Christianity Today and the Christian Medical Society hosted a gathering of evangelical leaders from across the country for a symposium on birth control. The purpose was to set forth "the conservative or evangelical position within Protestantism" from scholars who "shared a common acceptance of the Bible as the final authority on moral issues." The joint statement resulting from the conference, titled "A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction," included the consensus of attendees on abortion.

"Whether the performance of an induced abortion is sinful we are not agreed," it declared, "but about the necessity of it and permissibility for it under certain circumstances we are in accord." Circumstances justifying abortion included "family welfare, and social responsibility." "When principles conflict," they affirmed, "the preservation of fetal life ... may have to be abandoned to maintain full and secure family life."

the god of stupid people installs the soul at the moment of conception without knowing if the wetware will work...,

wikipedia |  Miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion and pregnancy loss, is the natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to survive independently.[1][2] Some use the cutoff of 20 weeks of gestation after which fetal death is known as a stillbirth.[2] The most common symptoms of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding.[1] This may occur with or without pain.[1] Tissue or clot like material may also come out the vagina.[3] Sadness, anxiety, and guilt may also occur.[4]

Risk factors for miscarriage include an older mother or father, previous miscarriage, exposure to tobacco smoke, obesity, diabetes, and drug or alcohol use, among others.[5][6] In those under the age of 35 the risk is about 10% while it is about 45% in those over the age of 40.[1] Risk begins to increase around the age of 30.[5] About 80% of miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester). The underlying mechanism in about half of cases involves chromosomal abnormalities. Other conditions that can produce similar symptoms include an ectopic pregnancy and implantation bleeding.[1] Diagnosis of a miscarriage may involve checking to see if the cervix is open or closed, testing blood levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and an ultrasound.[7]

Prevention is occasionally possible with good prenatal care. This may involve avoiding drugs and alcohol, infectious diseases, and radiation.[8] No specific treatment is usually needed during the first 7 to 14 days.[6][9] Most women will complete the miscarriage without interventions.[6] Occasionally the medication misoprostol or a procedure known as dilation and curettage (D&C) is required to remove the failed pregnancy.[9] Women who are rhesus negative may require Rho(D) immune globulin.[6] Pain medication and emotional support may be beneficial.[9]

Miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy.[10] Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is roughly 10% to 20% while rates among all conceptions is around 30% to 50%.[1][5] About 5% of women have two miscarriages in a row.[11]

Friday, July 24, 2015

charisma, capital, tax exemption - key ingredients of the spread of uhmurkan wahabism...,

WaPo |  Inside the gigantic Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, international flags decorate the walls. They are supposed to show that the house of worship accommodates more than an ordinary church – it is the world's largest megachurch.

With more than 800,000 members, the Seoul-based community is at the forefront of a global phenomenon. Often located in stadium-like venues, these churches attract at least 2,000 believers every week, and can grow to attract tens of thousands of people. And while the United States may have started the trend, the future of megachurches may lie in the rest of the world.

Based on data from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and from the Christian nonprofit organization Leadership Network, WorldViews visualized this global and diverse movement. We used the most common definition of megachurches, which describes them as having "2,000 or more persons in attendance at weekly worship, a charismatic, authoritative senior minister, a 7 day a week community," and other features which you can find in detail here.

Why global megachurches are bigger than U.S. megachurches
Despite American roots that reach back to the 19th century, megachurches abroad now have a higher average attendance, even though the vast majority of megachurches are still in the United States. While there are 230 to 500 such churches elsewhere in the world, the Hartford Institute estimates that there are about three times more megachurches in the United States.

neoconservatards must answer for iraq before fixing their pieholes to talk about iran...,

theatlantic |  To a degree that will baffle historians, the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible remains intact, and powerful. Amnesia is part of the reason why. If Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Benjamin Netanyahu knew that before denouncing the Iran deal they’d be required to account for their views on Iraq, they might not show up in the green room. If they did, their television appearances would take a radically different course from the course they generally take today.

The people of Iraq have no choice but to face the war’s consequences: The conflict took half a million Iraqi lives. America’s veterans must face it too: Almost one-third of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and nearly 50,000 live, or are close to living, on America’s streets. It’s only fair, therefore, that when people who championed the Iraq War appear in air-conditioned TV studios to debate the Iran deal, they be made to face that war’s consequences too. Were that the norm, I suspect the debate over Iran would barely be a debate at all.

the geopolitical alignment nobody paid any attention to

thenation |  Let’s start with the political Big Bang you know nothing about. It started two weeks ago, and here are its results: From now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations—the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the new Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB)—whose acronyms you’re also unlikely to recognize. Still, they represent an emerging new order in Eurasia.

Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.” And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at a twin BRICS/SCO summit in Ufa, Russia—a place you’ve undoubtedly never heard of and a meeting that got next to no attention in the United States. And yet sooner or later, these developments will ensure that the war party in Washington and assorted neocons (as well as neoliberalcons) already breathing hard over the Iran deal will sweat bullets as their narratives about how the world works crumble.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

jerry brown been lurking at subrealism - at the vatican calling tards "troglodytes"

sacbee |  Gov. Jerry Brown, issuing an ominous appeal on climate change, said Tuesday that the world may already have “gone over the edge” on global warming and that humanity must reverse course or face extinction.

Brown, speaking at a summit of mayors from around the world, has increased his already-high profile on climate change in recent months, working to coalesce support for carbon reduction policies ahead of global climate talks in Paris in December.

Pope Francis, who organized the conference after the release of his encyclical on climate change, told the group through an interpreter that he has “great hope ... that a fundamental basic agreement is reached” among global leaders.

Brown’s remarks reflected the urgency of the effort, but also its limitations.

“We don’t even know how far we’ve gone, or if we’ve gone over the edge,” Brown said. “There are tipping points, feedback loops. This is not some linear set of problems that we can predict. We have to take measures against an uncertain future which may well be something no one ever wants. We are talking about extinction. We are talking about climate regimes that have not been seen for tens of millions of years. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.”

Many Republicans have said the effects of climate change are overstated. As he has several times, Brown called them “troglodytes,” to applause. But the Democratic governor went beyond partisan rabble-rousing, quoting balefully from St. Paul’s biblical message to the Galatians.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article27998554.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article27998554.html#storylink=cpy

more american children than ever in extreme poverty and tards desperate to defund planned parenthood

kidscount |  The share of children under age 18 who live in families with incomes less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

The federal poverty definition consists of a series of thresholds based on family size and composition. In 2013, a 50% poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two children was $11,812. Poverty status is not determined for people in military barracks, institutional quarters, or for unrelated individuals under age 15 (such as foster children).

reuters |  Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers are calling for Planned Parenthood to be investigated and its federal funding eliminated after two videos that critics said showed the reproductive health care group is involved in the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue.

White House hopeful Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment to a highway bill Wednesday that would cut the nearly $500 million in taxpayer funding that goes annually to Planned Parenthood.

"Not one more taxpayer dollar should go to Planned Parenthood and I intend to make that goal a reality," Paul said.

Republican Representative Diane Black introduced a bill on Tuesday that would place an immediate moratorium on all federal funding for one year while Congress investigates the group's practices. Eighty lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors.

The videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing ways to perform abortions to preserve fetal tissue for research and the costs involved. They were secretly recorded by anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress.

Planned Parenthood says it does not profit from fetal tissue donation and only receives payment for associated costs, which is legally permissible.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

thank GOD its moved past what Ridley Scott could imagine back in the day - now just gotta keep Tards out the way!

thescientist |  Late last year, Steve Goldman of the University of Rochester and his colleagues reported that they had transplanted immature glial cells from donated human fetuses into the brains of immunodeficient mouse pups. These human glial cells matured into astrocytes and developed as the primary astrocyte population in the newborn mouse brain. One unexpected outcome of the team’s research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience (34:16153-61), was that these human-mouse chimeras outperformed normal mice almost fourfold in a variety of cognition tests, underscoring the importance of astrocytes in regulating synaptic plasticity and neural connectivity to enhance learning and memory. But the study also raised important ethical considerations—namely, what biological properties differentiate Homo sapiens from other organisms, and when should such “humanized” animals be afforded the rights that people currently enjoy.

Goldman is quick to state that the enhanced memory and learning performance of these human-mouse chimeras did not make the mice more human. “It’s still a mouse brain, not a human brain, but all the non-neuronal cells are human,” Goldman told New Scientist at the time of the publication. “This does not provide the animals with additional capabilities that could in any way be ascribed or perceived as specifically human. Rather, the human cells are simply improving the efficiency of the mouse’s own neural networks. It’s still a mouse.”

At the same time, the team had ethical reservations about repeating these types of experiments on monkeys, presumably following the National Academies’ guidelines that no human embryonic stem cells should be introduced into nonhuman primates at any stage of fetal or postnatal development. Is there really an ethical difference in performing these experiments on mice as opposed to monkeys? The scientists have not addressed this question, perhaps because it is a difficult one to answer.

Human intelligence, as difficult as it is to define, is often thought to be one of the most important characteristics that differentiate Homo sapiens from all other organisms. However, the capacity to humanize animals has the potential to complicate this assessment of being human. For example, should the definition of human or humanlike intelligence be psychometric, based on a constellation of cognitive processes, or should it be neurophysiologic or neurogenetic because it is inextricably linked to the brain? The question of distinguishing human and nonhuman characteristics has arisen regarding our close primate relatives. Last October, a New York Appeals Court announced that it will consider the issue of whether chimpanzees are entitled to “legal personhood.” Similarly, in December, an appeals court in Argentina recognized orangutans as having basic legal rights, stating that these primates deserve living quarters in a sanctuary and not in a zoo.

while tards fret about biological waste, I'll be metabolically and nootropically viralled out...,

wikipedia |  Gene doping is defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency as "the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance".[1]

A complex ethical and philosophical issue is what defines "gene doping", especially in the context of bioethical debates about human enhancement.[2] The idea stems from research done in the 1970s to treat human diseases by fixing the underlying genes.[3] An example of gene doping could involve the recreational use of gene therapies intended to treat muscle-wasting disorders. Other applications include increasing muscle growth, blood production, endurance, oxygen dispersal and pain resistance. In such cases, nothing unusual would enter the bloodstream so officials would be a lot better and not detect anything in a blood or urine test.[4] The new gene may be identical to the natural gene and may not be in every cell of the body. Some viruses target certain organs, such as the kidney or liver, thus only samples taken from these areas could lead to detection.[5]

The historical development of policy associated with gene doping began in 2001 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical Commission met to discuss the implications of gene therapy for sport. It was shortly followed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which met in 2002 to discuss genetic enhancement at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Also in 2002, the United States President’s Council on Bioethics met twice to discuss the ethics of genetic technology related to sport. In 2003, WADA decided to include a prohibition of gene doping within their World Anti-Doping Code, which is formalized in its 2004 World Anti-Doping Code. Further, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) met in 2003 and 2004 to discuss the science and ethics of gene transfer technology for sport.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has already asked scientists to help find ways to prevent gene therapy from becoming the newest means of doping. In December 2005, the World Anti-Doping Agency hosted its second landmark meeting on gene doping and drafted a declaration on gene doping which, for the first time, included a strong discouragement of the use of genetic testing for performance. In September 2010 a WADA funded research project reported for the first time that the direct and long-term detection of gene doping by the abuse of gene transfer techniques is possible in conventional blood samples.[6] The first product to be associated with genetic doping emerged on the approach to the Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games, where repoxygen was discussed as a possible substance in use at the Games.

authentic christian church struggling to hold onto millenials..., (tards gotta go!)

religiondispatches |  Pope Francis is popular among young Catholics, with only two percent having a negative view of him. But the American church hierarchy is not looked on so kindly, and there is an increasing emphasis on a separation between politics and religion. A full 80 percent of respondents said they felt no need to follow the bishops’ advice when it comes time to vote, and 77 percent said Catholic politicians were under no obligation to follow the bishops either.

They are also opposed by a wide margin to bishops withholding communion to the divorced and remarried, those who support legal abortion, and those who support marriage equality.

What’s missing from this survey, however, is the question of church attendance. How much are these Catholics who disagree with and question church teaching are actually showing up? Christian Smith, the head of the National Study of Youth and Religion at Notre Dame, says the situation with Catholic millennials participating in church culture is “in fact, grim.” Only 16% of millennials self-identify as Catholic according to Pew. That 16% is the group the church is struggling to hold on to.

So if they are increasingly choosing the liberal side in the culture wars, are they really still Catholic?
Canon Law 204.1 states that a Catholic not only has to be baptized, but also “share the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance” to be “considered in communion with the Church.” Canon Law 208-223 has more specific rules for acting out the obligation of the laity, but some of those rules are ambiguously stated, including 209.1, which tells us that “the Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church,” or 210, which says that Christians should try to lead a “holy life” but “according to their own condition.”

The linguistic ambiguity of Canon Law, along with the fact that very few Catholics bother to read it, means that belonging to the church is ill defined.

For most Catholics—and especially for younger ones whose Boomer and Gen X parents may themselves have drifted from the church, slipped in their catechesis, or willfully ignored some of its teachings on sexual issues (the increasingly smaller number of children born to Catholic families is empirical evidence of that)—their Catholicism may have always been a self-defined identity rather than a strident one.

The Pope, Science, and Economics. Of the Three, Economics is by far the most Detached from Reality

evolution-institute |  Anyone who thinks that science and religion can’t mix should read Pope Francis’s Encyclical “On the Care of Our Common Home”. Not only does it provide an admirable scientifically informed summary of global environmental degradation, but it correctly diagnoses the current economic worldview as part of the problem. It is economics, more than religion (at least as rendered by Pope Francis), that is detached from reality.

TVOL is pleased to provide an assessment of the Encyclical by the distinguished ecological economist John Gowdy, who has served as an advisor for the Evolution Institute since 2009.

The Encyclical provides a theological argument for environmental stewardship in addition to a scientific argument. The theological argument is an interesting object of analysis in its own right, as I will describe in a companion article.

why Trump is a refreshing departure from typical N-1 contamination of politics and distortion of reality

NYTimes |  A hidden-camera video released last week purported to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses. It shows nothing of the sort. But it is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year. The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.

The nine-minute video clip released by the Center for Medical Progress, an outfit apparently created in 2013, invites viewers to “Hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their illegal sale of baby parts.” In it, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, is seen discussing the collection of fetal tissue in a lunch meeting with two people posing as potential tissue buyers. A second video, released on Tuesday, shows another Planned Parenthood staff member discussing fetal tissue.

After the first video’s release, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky pledged to “introduce an amendment to pending Senate legislation to immediately strip every dollar of Planned Parenthood funding.” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called for defunding and for “an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities regarding the sale and transfer of aborted body parts.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee is undertaking an investigation, and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have ordered investigations in their states.

The full video of the lunch meeting, over two hours long and released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood, shows something very different from what these critics claim. Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient. Planned Parenthood affiliates only accept money — between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola — to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue. “This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at,” she said. Under federal law, facilities may be reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, like transportation and storage.

According to a letter sent by Roger Evans, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood, to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the video is a result of a yearslong campaign of deception. The head of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, created a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services almost three years ago for the purpose of tricking Planned Parenthood employees, the letter alleges, even setting up exhibits at Planned Parenthood’s national conferences. The letter also says Biomax offered a Planned Parenthood affiliate $1,600 for a fetal liver and thymus, presumably to trap the affiliate in the act of accepting a high payment for fetal tissue. The affiliate declined.