"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

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Friday, November 28 2014 @ 10:50 AM CST

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Epidemics Are Not Natural

Science

Warnings of human overpopulation have a storied history, but much of it can be traced back to Thomas Malthus. In his Essay on the Principle of Population, he claimed that human population would eventually be checked by famine and disease, leading to a so-called Malthusian catastrophe. His ideas were revived in the 20th century, leading to the rise of the Neo-Malthusians, a group that included William Vogt (author of Road to Survival), John B. Calhoun (famous for his mouse experiments and the term "behavioral sink"), and William and Paul Paddock (authors of Famine 1975! America's Decision: Who Will Survive).

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Questioning Technology: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

Science

This is not a call to storm the hospitals and switch off people's life support systems, burn down pharmacies, or dismantle all wheelchairs. While this article is part of a growing call to view technology’s ubiquitous presence with a much more critical eye, it does not mean we're arguing for rounding up people at gun point and forcing them to hand over their smart phones; nor are we on a crusade to deny people access to hormone therapies, [modern] abortions or other tech advances used to sustain and improve quality of life.

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How Humans Evolved to Cope with City Crowds

Science

For over a hundred thousand years, humans evolved in small, roving bands of a few dozen people. But then, about ten thousand years ago, we started living in cities that were far bigger than any tribe or band. Our minds had to change to cope with the population overload.

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Dark Matter May Play Role in Extinctions

Science

The path our Solar System takes through the Galaxy may get bumpy at times, and this could affect the number of comets buzzing around Earth. Scientists have uncovered possible evidence of this galactic bumpiness in an apparent periodic fluctuation in the rate of large crater-forming impacts—the kind that likely killed off the dinosaurs. The frequency of impact fluctuations closely matches the rate at which the Sun passes through the plane of the galactic disk. However, it hasn’t been clear what element in the disk could be influencing comet trajectories. Two theoretical physicists have put forward a hypothesis that inserts dark matter as the missing piece between Solar System motion and possibly life-threatening comet impacts. In a paper published in Physical Review Letters [1], Lisa Randall and Matthew Reece from Harvard University suggest that some of the mysterious invisible matter, which makes up 85% of all matter in the Universe, could exist in a thin disk that disturbs the path of certain comets so that they are more likely to collide with our planet.

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Liberty, Equality, Geography: An Interview with John P. Clark on the Revolutionary Eco-Anarchism of Elisée Reclus

Science

Social geography is the study of how landscape, climate, and other features of a place shape the livelihoods, values, and cultural traditions of its inhabitants (and vice versa). Frenchman Elisée Reclus (1830 – 1905), a progenitor of the discipline, believed strongly in the rights and abilities of people to manage themselves in relation to their local bioregion, free from rule by a remote, centralized government. His approach to anarchy was unique in its emphasis on the environment – Reclus understood that a mindset that encourages one person or people’s domination over another must, in the race to profit from natural “resources”, also foster domination over nature.

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The Limits of Non-Cooperation as a Strategy for Social Change

Science

When the Croatian town of Vukovar was taken over by the Serbian Army in 1991 after 90 days of bombing, Alexander Jevtić, a Serb who had made the town his home, found himself in a seemingly impossible position. Once inside the town, Serbian forces set about rounding up Croatian men as young as 16 for transport to a secret detention facility, where many would be tortured and killed. Jevtić was swept up in the expulsion.

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Open access 2013: A year of gaining momentum

Science

Was this the year open access for science reached critical mass? One hypothesis suggests that a transformative group needs to reach one-third to be prominent and persisting.

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A luddite link to nano-terrorists

Science

Nanotechnology has incited the wrath of a sect of anarchists who see nature as the supreme good.

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Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?

Science

Science has never revealed as much about addiction—potential genetic causes, influences, and triggers, and the resultant brain activity—or offered as many opportunities and methods for initial treatment as it does now. Even so, the grassroots 12-step program remains the preferred prescription for achieving long-term sobriety.

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New Study of Prehistoric Skeletons Undermines Claim That War Has Deep Evolutionary Roots

Science

When did war begin? Does war have deep roots, or is it a modern invention? A new analysis of ancient human remains by anthropologists Jonathan Haas and Matthew Piscitelli of Chicago’s Field Museum provides strong evidence for the latter view.

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