Zero to Maker: Getting to Speed with the Maker –

maker movement think_1

Zero to Maker: Getting to Speed with the Maker Movement (23:57) from Maker Faire on

A 23-minute video from World Maker Faire New York 2013. Some gems: “Just-in-time learning.” “It isn’t do-it-yourself (DIY) — its do-it-together.”


CONTRARY BRIN: Shall we give up on reason?

Will we genetic-cavemen ever become the logical beings we flatter ourselves into believing we are? Or that Science Fiction says we might become?  Recent research suggests that we have a long slog ahead of us… and yes, even the smartest best-educated folks allow their pre-set beliefs and passions to interfere with basic mental processes, if their close-held biases might be under threat. Indeed we have all seen this tenacity in online arguments, in which cogent – even devastating and fact-rich — rebuttals don’t sway the other guy even an iota. See: Scientists’ depressing new discovery about the brain.
We already knew this. The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes. Clearly this is what goes on as know-nothings rage against scientists and other professionals. –David Brin



If the Dunning–Kruger effect describes the delusional superiority of unskilled know-nothings, what should we call the brilliant self-delusions hatched by our best and brightest minds? The cognitively biased genius may be a greater threat to the fate of civilization than the self-deluded dumb-ass.


Notice that Russell says wiser people are full of doubts–not smarter people or better-educated people.  Is there a consistent correlation between intelligence and wisdom? If my personal experience is any guide, there often seems to be an inverse relation between the two at the high end of the intelligence scale. There never seems to be any shortage of highly-intelligent and well-educated fools. It reminds me of the correlation between income (or wealth) and happiness. Up to a point increasing wealth is positively correlated with increasing happiness and decreasing stress. But at some point there is a diminishing return, and then eventually the relationship becomes inversely proportional. So too with intelligence and wisdom. So too with knowledge and certainty.


Jane Austen

“I have no talent for certainty.”

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents

Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents

ABSTRACT: Reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents is a critical area of intervention for obstetricians, gynecologists, and other reproductive health care professionals. Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course. Prenatal exposure to certain chemicals has been documented to increase the risk of cancer in childhood; adult male exposure to pesticides is linked to altered semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer; and postnatal exposure to some pesticides can interfere with all developmental stages of reproductive function in adult females, including puberty, menstruation and ovulation, fertility and fecundity, and menopause. Many environmental factors harmful to reproductive health disproportionately affect vulnerable and underserved populations, which leaves some populations, including underserved women, more vulnerable to adverse reproductive health effects than other populations. The evidence that links exposure to toxic environmental agents and adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes is sufficiently robust, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine join leading scientists and other clinical practitioners in calling for timely action to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents while addressing the consequences of such exposure.

via ACOG – Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents.

[The hazards of toxic exposure go far beyond reproduction and prenatal development. Toxic exposures can affect all stages of human growth and development, but the earlier the exposure the more profound the risks and effects tend to be. The developing brain is particularly vulnerable. Numerous adverse emotional and behavioral consequences have been correlated with such exposures. –PR]

DNA Double Take

Genomic Mosaicism

Genomic Mosaicism

“…scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.”

via DNA Double Take –

[Chimerism and genomic mosaicism may be far more common then formerly suspected–perhaps even typical. There may be huge implications for biology, medicine and forensics–PR]

The Dangers of Scientism?

tiny scientist, big mushroom

tiny scientist, big mushroom (Photo credit: hmmlargeart)

This is a response to the blog post The Dangers of Scientism and the Fear of the Unknowable by Dave Pollard and to conversations I’ve recently had about various flaws, fallacies, or evils supposedly inherent in “science.”

There’s a lot of complex feedback between fashions in science and society but I find little in the philosophy of science (in its better versions) to alarm me. What alarms me is the predictable irrationality of the human brain, concentration of power, and corruption. Whatever is wrong with any part of science or society can probably be traced back to these. If we want to address any of these root problems, some version of science is probably our best tool, but it goes without saying that science must continuously improve and engage in continuous quality control –physician, heal thyself.

Pollard’s article reviews The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers by Curtis White and also briefly mentions Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld.

Of the Science Delusion says:

One of our most brilliant social critics—and the author of the bestselling The Middle Mind—presents a scathing critique of the “delusions” of science alongside a rousing defense of the role of art and philosophy in our culture The so-called new atheists, most famously Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, made a splash in the new millen­nium. They told the evangelical and the liberal believer that they must give up religion and submit to science. More recently, neuroscientists and their fans in the media have delivered a variation on this message: the mapping of the human brain will soon be completed, and we will know what we are and how we should act. Their faith is that the scientific method provides the best understanding not only of the physical world but also of art, culture, economics, and anything left over. The message is nearly the same as that of the new atheists: submit to science.

IMO both books are exercises in demagoguery or pop-propaganda, feeding on the public’s misconceptions and love-hate relationship with perceived aristocracies.

These books liberally combine truths and tautologies with exaggeration and bias in support of a preconceived conclusion with a predictable market among those who feel most threatened by science in general. I think they also appeal to those creatives uncertain of where to place the blame for our modern perils and woes.

Scientism, where it is actually found (there is plenty of it but not usually in the places the public imagines), is typically the product of some common weaknesses in human nature–things like corruption, authoritarianism, risk-aversion, etc.

However most emotionally mature scholars and scientists are well aware that, as Pollard says, “Science is, after all, nothing more than the creation of approximate, limited and ever-changing models and metaphors of some aspects of reality, that are often interesting and sometimes (enormously) useful.” In fact, on the whole, scientists are better enlightened in this respect than most of those who use them for target practice.

Endless anecdotes of life-saving or environment-friendly innovations suppressed by vested academic, professional, or political interests notwithstanding, if you follow the money the original source of science against the public interest is higher up the food chain than the working scientist. The degree of scientism and corruption in science varies widely by industry with more conflict of interest in things like military R&D, big pharma, biotech, and energy than in things like climate science or the social sciences.

Unparsimonious positivism or absolutism is something that most humans, including scientists, fall into with varying degree and frequency (especially when it comes with a paycheck); but which is considerably less prevalent (to say the least) among reputable scientists than most other demographics.

The groups who are most deserving of our outrage, our torches, and our pitchforks are the sociopathic authoritarians who capture the institutions of science, learning, polity, and culture for their own ends and those who are their stooges, collaborators, and sycophants. That some percentage of scientists fall in and out of those ranks is no indictment of science nor the philosophy of science but only of human frailty–that same frailty that also turns religion into chauvinism and murder.

Poor Richard

MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

See on Scoop.itScience and Sanity

All-new clinical studies. Unprecedented media coverage. Subjects treated in legal experimental psychedelic research sessions. More opportunities to connect with the psychedelic and medical marijuana research community than ever before. The evidence is clear: we are transforming medicine.

Read more about MAPS at




[Some encouragement for amateurs and generalists –PR]

See on Scoop.itScience and Sanity

We’ve shown that disfluency leads you to think more deeply, as I mentioned earlier, that it forms a cognitive roadblock, and then you think more deeply, and you work through the information more comprehensively. But the other thing it does is it allows you to depart more from reality, from the reality you’re at now.

See on

Complexity Science

An Interactive Map of Complexity Science by Brian Castellani.


Click image for interactive version

BRAIN Intitiative

Let’s hope this will be Open Science!

This initiative may represent the smartest thing the human race has done so far, of far greater importance than the Human Genome Project. I hope enough of us recognize it, because broad public participation will be crucial to guide this project in the public interest. There is no way to keep the ruling class from using science for evil, but we need to make the BRAIN Initiative and its publicly funded products a fully open, free, transparent and public domain body of work.

 “As part of this planning process, input will be sought broadly from the scientific community, patient advocates, and the general public. The working group will be asked to produce an interim report by fall 2013 that will contain specific recommendations on high priorityinvestments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. The final report will be delivered to the NIH Director in June 2014. ”

Please join me in taking every opportunity that arises to lobby for keeping the BRAIN Initiative and all other publicly funded research in the public domain of Open Science.

Follow new developments relating to the BRAIN Initiative and other advances in science and technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog and @whitehouseostp on Twitter.

PRA 2.0 Posts

3D printing at Fab Lab Adelaide

3D printing at Fab Lab Adelaide

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