democracy and dim lights, first sketch of dna double helix, fantasy and reality – a tale

People Aren’t Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say. Despite the fact that there are more democracies in the world then ever.

The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.

The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas. For example, if people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.

As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, “very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is,” Dunning told Life’s Little Mysteries.

Obviously an anecdotal test, but half the comments at the site confirm the research. Some previous studies that made the blog rounds that show despite 24/7 cable and the internets, people are no more well informed now than fifty years ago. They even seem to be getting worse. It might be, i do not have a good study to point to, that the complexity of society is outpacing the capacity to keep. news overload also tends to make people mentally tune out. They seek out programming or web sites that distract them from the hard cold realities. I can understand the need to save one’s sanity from the world playwright Paddy Chayesfy ‘s prescient movie Network showed us. Much of what comes over the media is not real. Even the very real parts seem like a nightmare in slow motion. Too much for us to apprehend much beyond shock – wars, mass killings, natural disasters. You look away thankful it was not you. We get a daily diet so some outrage fatigue sets in. We are blessed and cursed with the ability to distract ourselves. The facts pour in – there are dogs to feed, kids to put to bed, bills to pay. It seems that indeed “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”, a house is always burning down, the schools are never doing a good enough job, the students are never paying attention, there are double-decker layers of the next boogeyman hiding and waiting to get us. Trying to understand, find solutions, seeing beneath the plastic wrapped broadcast news pabulum only gets you labeled an elitist.

Sketch of the DNA Double Helix by Francis Crick


The iconic image of the double helix–the twisted ladder that carries the codes for earth’s huge variety of life forms–goes back to 1953 and the homemade metal model created by the British scientist Francis Crick and his American collaborator, James Watson. Determined to solve the puzzle posed by the research evidence at the time, they obtained new insights by visualizing the structure of the complex molecule through a physical model. This pencil sketch of DNA was made by Crick and forms part of the extensive Crick Archive at the Wellcome Library. It illustrates several structural features of the double helix: it is right-handed, with the two strands running in opposite directions; the nucleotides, the building blocks of the strands, have a part that forms the backbone and a part (the base) that projects into the middle of the helix; and the internally projecting bases in one strand are aligned so that they can pair with a base from the opposite strand. This last feature is essential for DNA to be able to perform its function of passing genetic information from one generation to the next. It is not known whether Crick drew this sketch before or after he and Watson made the famous model, but the drawing demonstrates the role that simple illustrations can play in helping to conceptualize complex problems.

Contrary to an otherwise nice movie about the discovery of DNA’s structure, in their original publication of their findings Watson and Crick did give credit to Rosalind Elsie Franklin and her X-ray diffraction images in helping them unravel the mystery.


crocodile – i’ve got my eye on you

There is Not as Much Contradiction Between Evolution and Divine Creation as Many Would Have Us Believe. Darwin was a minister. The cultural conflict has been exaggerated for earnest if ignorant, reasons among some. That in turn has been exploited by the for profit preachers and mullahs.

More Americans use the ER for dental care: study. If we cannot have a rational national debate about health care reform it makes sense that dental health hardly makes the national radar.

the miracle of 20/20 hindsight, Rep. Issa Concedes His All-Male Anti-Contraception Hearing Was Not ‘My Greatest Success’


A touching story in which fantasy and reality merge to make dreams come true. How determining can reality be, and how can fantasy unleash an unexpected freedom? Can a fragile world of lights and shadows show us more than a silhouette drawn against the sunlight? A mixed-technique animated short film, by Director Carlos Lascano