Author: Objective Science

David Harriman’s Fundamentals of Physical Science: A Historical Inductive Approach

by Lisa VanDamme One of the most formative courses in my educational history was David Harriman’s “Fundamentals of Physical Science” – formative of my knowledge of science, formative of my views on education, formative of my very ability to think. It taught me what it really means to learn science, and by extension, what it really means to learn. Let me illustrate the difference between science as it is conventionally taught and science as it is taught by David Harriman, using Newton’s law of universal gravitation as a striking case in point. If your education was like mine, this...

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Vaccination: An Essentialized History of a Life Saving Technology

Amesh Adalja, M.D., discusses the history of vaccination with special attention to the heroic figures who developed this technology. Particular consideration is given to the chain of reasoning leading to the first vaccine, as well as how the germ theory of disease led to a plethora of vaccines that allowed humans to experience a rapid improvement in lifespan and quality of life. Adalja is a board-certified physician in infectious disease, critical care medicine, emergency medicine and internal medicine, specializing in the intersection of national security with catastrophic health events. He publishes and lectures on bioterrorism, pandemic preparedness and emerging infectious diseases and appears as a guest on national radio and television programs. This talk was delivered on Wednesday, July 6, 2016, at Objectivist Summer Conference 2016 in Bellevue,...

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Genetically Engineered Food is Safe: No Evidence that GE Crops are Unsafe to Eat, or Do Damage to the Environment

“The inescapable conclusion, after reading the report, is the G.E. crops are pretty much just crops. They are not the panacea that some proponents claim, nor the dreaded monsters that others claim.” — Wayne Parrott a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Georgia. A two-year analysis of almost 900 journal articles on the past 30 years of genetically modified, or engineered (GE), crop use concludes that there is no evidence that GE crops are unsafe to eat, or do damage to the environment. The 400-page report — Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects’ published by the National Academies Press on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. — was conducted by 20 scientists, and commissioned by the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The report looks at the impacts GE crops have had since the 1980s. Its findings include: Generally positive economic outcomes for farmers, but no indication GE crops changed the rate of increase in yields; Decreased crop losses, insecticide use and greater insect biodiversity for insect-resistant Bt crops, but also instances of insects evolving resistance; No decrease in plant biodiversity for herbicide tolerant crops, but a major problem with herbicide-resistant weeds due to heavy glyphosate use; No evidence that foods from GE crops are less safe to eat than conventional food. Looking to the future of GE crops, the report notes that new genetic technologies are blurring...

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