Archive for August 15th, 2012
British attitudes to witchcraft during the Tudor era tended to be less extreme than those of contemporary Europeans. Indeed, under the right circumstances, the British witch could occasionally become an acceptable – if not quite respectable – member of society. This produced characters such as the village elder with healing skills, usually burnt at the stake in places like Denmark or Germany, and the eccentric gentleman with a library of arcane tomes whose ‘experiments’ were considered scientific rather than supernatural. Acceptance was not universal, however, and those who attracted the attention of the witchfinder – or even the Inquisition under Mary I’s reign – often ended up on trial for their lives.
When a moth flies at night, it uses the moon and the stars to steer a straight path. Those light sources are fixed and distant, so the rays always strike the moth's multilensed eyes at the same angle, making them reliable for nocturnal navigation. But introduce something else bright—a candle, say, or a campfire—and there will be trouble. The light radiates outward, confusing the moth and causing it to spiral ever closer to the blaze until the insect meets a fiery end.
For years Richard Dawkins has used the self-immolation of moths to explain religion. The example can be found in his 2006 best seller, The God Delusion, and it's been repeated in speeches and debates, interviews and blog posts. Moths didn't evolve to commit suicide; that's an unfortunate byproduct of other adaptations. In much the same way, the thinking goes, human beings embrace religion for unrelated cognitive reasons. We evolved to search for patterns in nature, so perhaps that's why we imagine patterns in religious texts. Instead of being guided by the light, we fly into the flames.
The implication—that religion is basically malevolent, that it "poisons everything," in the words of the late Christopher Hitchens—is a standard assertion of the New Atheists. Their argument isn't just that there probably is no God, or that intelligent design is laughable bunk, or that the Bible is far from inerrant. It's that religion is obviously bad for human beings, condemning them to ignorance, subservience, and endless conflict, and we would be better off without it.
But would we?
Brain scans have revealed distinctive features in the brain structure of karate experts, which could be linked to their ability to punch powerfully from close range. Researchers from Imperial College London and UCL (University College London) found that differences in the structure of white matter — the connections between brain regions — were correlated with how black belts and novices performed in a test of punching ability.
Hershey Co made nutritional claims for its chocolate syrups that do not meet regulatory guidelines, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
In a warning letter to the company dated February 14, made public on Tuesday, the FDA said the labels on Hershey's Syrup+Calcium and its Syrup Sugar Free with Vitamin & Mineral Fortification violate federal law.
The FDA said the company may not use the terms "plus" and "fortification" on the labels because the products' nutritional contents do not meet the guidelines needed to make such claims.
Data on 60,000 type 2 diabetes patients showed those who took thiazolidinedione drugs for at least five years were two to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who took sulfonylurea drugs. The findings appear in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The cholesterol in delicious egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in our arteries) almost as much as smoking.
The High Court of Australia denied a challenge from cigarette firms against its tobacco marketing laws. The ruling means that companies must sell tobacco products and cigarettes in plain, unbranded olive green packs. The packages must bear health warnings, including images that depict smoking-related illnesses.