Street Sweepers ‘Suffering in Silence’

first_imgStreet sweepers are rarely noticed by the thousands of people who pass by them every day. Nevertheless, they are always there, rain or shine, to clean up trash that passers-by throw on the streets. Their complaint is that for three months (March to May) they have not been paid, and their appeals to get at least their March and April salaries have fallen on “mere promises.” “Street cleaners don’t enjoy any rights whatsoever,” Aretha Johnson (not real name), a street sweeper in her mid-sixties told the Daily Observer during the heavy downpour on Friday. “We have worked for nearly four months without receiving our just monthly wages. We don’t have any medical or social insurance. We now survive on begging whoever we meet in the street. We want to work, but get no pay.”Ms. Johnson is one of Monrovia’s many street cleaners. An unspecified number of her colleagues including Annita Harry are employed by the municipalities and city councils across the country, according to the female cleaner. The rest of them are employed by waste removal companies in Monrovia. The cleaners remove tons of garbage of all types every day. Despite this, they are poorly-paid, overworked and even maltreated by both their employers and the general public, as recorded in their interview with this newspaper.Ms. Johnson, a former civil servant, had to work as a street cleaner after retiring.She and her colleagues earn about US$60 to US$90 a month. But this amount does very little to help them feed their children, send them to school or enable them to live a dignified life.“You know what? If any of us (sweepers) falls ill, he/she has to underwrite the cost of treatment from his/her own pocket,” Ms. Johnson said as her colleagues nodded in agreement.She said, “Given the very low salaries we receive, which does not even come on time, most of us cannot afford to buy medicines or pay for treatment at hospitals and clinics.”US$60 is the average salary for street sweepers in the country. Annita Harry is assigned to the area around Randall and Mechlin streets, toward Water Street. She says companies employing the sweepers write in their contracts that the sweepers receive a salary of US$120 each. “But this is on paper only,” Ms. Harry intimated. “In reality, the sweepers receive just whatever from US$60 to US$90 every month,” she told the Daily Observer.The cleaners, wearing their mixed-colored uniforms, start their work with brooms, wheelbarrows and shovels in the early morning. But garbage continues to accumulate everywhere.Street cleaning is a real problem in any part of the country, especially in Monrovia, where the streets are littered with overwhelming refuse. The Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) has often blamed garbage collection companies for their failure to keep the streets clean, even though they charge the government hundreds of millions of dollars every year for their services. But a look into the life and working conditions of the sweepers, who are employed by these “rubbish collection companies, shows why the streets cannot be cleaned,” a bystander retorted in anger. David Joe, a 54-year-old sweeper, and three colleagues have to clean an eight kilometer area every day. They start work at 6:30 a.m. and must finish by 3 p.m. “We work really hard to make the streets clean, but there are other class of citizens who are bent on littering the streets with the mindset that the streets must be dirty so that we can continue to work,” he said. Mr. Joe’s face is wrinkled. He carries his broom and shovel with difficulty and had little time to waste on a newspaper interview that will offer nothing to him in the end. He was even afraid to talk, lest he be punished by his bosses, especially the municipality authorities in Monrovia. MCC Chief of Communication, Jacob Walker, acknowledged the delay of salary payments by a Monrovia-based sanitation company. “But that was about two months ago, which we have settled with the workers,” Mr. Walker responded. As for the MCC employees, he said it was unusual for the sweepers to complain about salary delays, “Because every one of us (the staff) is on the same payroll. We are paid regularly. However, I will have to investigate,” Mr. Walker promised.His colleague, Saah Nyumah, was more open. He said firing workers was the easiest thing for the sanitation company bosses. Nyumah’s contract with the company should come to an end next year. He said he did not know what he would do if the company did not renew his contract.“More than 150 other sweepers working for the same company do not know what the future will hold for them when their contracts end next year,” he said, expressing the hope that the company will renew their contracts. Nyumah, like other sweepers, works eight hours, cleaning the streets every day. He said he was afraid to lose his monthly earnings of US$75 from the sweeping job, which he uses to feed his two wives and five children who are registered in community schools.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Group ‘A’ Teams Share Points

first_imgGroup ‘A’ members drew in their encounters at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in the quarter-finals of the National County Meet.In the first encounter, Maryland and Montserrado ended 1-1 after Montserrado County took the lead in the 8th minute in their first goal of the competition, having ended all their group-stage matches in goalless draws.The Harper Boys got their equalizer just a minute after conceding their goal and showed dominance in ball possession, but could not turn their chances into goals.In the second soccer match, Grand Cape Mount and River Gee Counties also ended in a 1-1 draw. Cape Mount equalized in the 69th minute from a penalty award. River Gee took the lead in the 27th minute through Musa Kamara.River Gee striker Philip Dobayou had wasted a close range in the 4th minute.River Gee created goal-scoring chances but could not turn those chances into goals.Another shot by Dobayou in the first half to double the team’s goal did not materialize.In the second session, goal scorer Kamara was booked with a yellow card for faking a foul in the 18 yard box of his opponents’ goal area.River Gee was reduced to ten men in the 51st minute due to a red card awarded to defender Zah Tokpah for intentional elbow on an opponent.Cape Mount’s goal was scored by Captain George Freeman who was substituted in the 69th minute.Young Amos of River Gee will miss the next match against Maryland after he was awarded a red card at the end of the match.River Gee will face Maryland in their next match, while Montserrado will face Grand Cape Mount County.KickballMargibi and Montserrado counties secured wins after defeating Maryland and Grand Gedeh Counties by 5-3 points and 10-0 points, respectively.Volleyball & BasketballIn the volleyball version of the County Meet, the draw for Phase Two of the competition was held at the ATS with the last eight teams divided into two separate groups.In Group A, Grand Bassa will go against Sinoe County, while Grand Cape Mount will face Bomi County in the group’s first matches. Nimba County will battle against Grand Gedeh, and River Gee will go against Montserrado in Group-B.In the basketball draw, Nimba, Grand Kru, Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado counties were paired in Group ‘A’, while Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh and Bomi were grouped in Group ‘B’. The kickball and soccer versions will continue tomorrow at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Broadcasters continue serious breaches everyday – GNBA

first_imgWithin the first three months of 2018, the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) has announced that there has been a continuous flow of serious breaches to the Broadcasting Act 2011 and its 2017 Amendment on a daily basis. This deduction was made after observations by its Monitoring and Compliance Department.According to the GNBA, these breaches fall under the categories of the potential to mislead, promote negative behaviours and offend public sensibilities. Sensational content highlighting, close-up video footages of undignified images, prime-time programmes, violence and crime, offensive languages, nudity and indecent languages fall under some of these breaches. Additionally, the Authority has also observed inaccuracies in the presentation of political or industrial behaviours, interpretation of current public policy and the use of personal views as if they were facts are also some other concerning factors which have been raised.Within a one month period, the Monitoring and Compliance department recorded a total of 27 grave infractions on an average. With this in mind, the GNBA has reiterated to the broadcasters that such violations have significant implications and can lead to severe penalties. Therefore, the Authority is reminding them to be aware of situations where breaches of the amendment many arise and to avoid these breaches at all cost.This can be done by screening the music and movie contents before airing. Immediate actions can also be taken during live programmes to correct, caution and disconnect callers who are abusive or who spew misinformation. Lastly, a caller’s identification should be displayed along with the introduction of a delayed broadcasting mechanism so that the information received can be edited before screening.The GNBA has issued this statement so that it can continue to exercise its core mandate to regulate, supervise and develop the broadcasting sector. Broadcasters are also asked to follow these reminders to avoid breaching the Act and Amendment.last_img read more

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NEAT offers free waste assessments

first_imgPart of the program also looks into ways a company can reduce their energy usage, from the type of light bulbs being used, the insulation of water heaters, and ensuring there are no leaky faucets.She adds that despite the environmental benefits, there will be further monetary benefits for businesses to decrease their waste output as fees for certain waste items may increase.[asset|aid=3114|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=49190c01caa8c11f09150ee432a6f04f-Thompson 3_1_Pub.mp3] Any business interested in having an assessment performed can contact NEAT at 250-785-6328.Advertisement The Northern Environmental Action Team is partnering with the Peace River Regional District and BC Hydro to provide waste and energy assessments to businesses.The assessments will be offered to businesses in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors at no cost.Many businesses know to recycle office paper, but don’t know that other items such as computers, compact fluorescent bulbs, and steel can also be recycled locally, says Beth Thompson, program co-ordinator at NEAT.- Advertisement -The Waste Assessment consultation process involves determining where a business’s waste is going.[asset|aid=3113|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=49190c01caa8c11f09150ee432a6f04f-Thompson 2_1_Pub.mp3] Thompson says there are sometimes only a few simple changes a business can make that will create a significant impact on their waste reduction strategies.Advertisementlast_img read more

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Ozil, Sanchez could leave in January – Wenger

first_img0Shares0000Arsenal reportedly agreed a fee for Sanchez with City on transfer deadline day, only for the deal to collapse after Wenger was unable to complete a move for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar. Photo/COURTESYLONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 12 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded on Thursday he may have no option but to sell star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the January transfer window.The pair are both out of contract at the end of the season and are yet to agree new deals. As things stand, they will be able to leave the Emirates Stadium for free, meaning January will be Arsenal’s last opportunity to cash in on their two most high-profile players.“It is possible,” Wenger told a press conference ahead of his side’s trip to Watford on Saturday. “Once you’re in our kind of situation, we have envisaged every solution, yes.”Asked if Arsenal had set a deadline for contract negotiations with the pair to conclude, Wenger replied: “No. Not at the moment.”Chile forward Sanchez, 28, joined Arsenal from Barcelona in July 2014, a year after 28-year-old Germany playmaker Ozil’s arrival from Real Madrid.The signings electrified Arsenal’s fan base, but for all their quality, the duo have thus far been unable to end the club’s 14-year wait for the Premier League title.Sanchez has been linked with a number of major clubs, among them Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.Ozil, meanwhile, is reported to have attracted interest from Manchester United, who are managed by his former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.Earlier this week, Ozil’s agent, Erkut Sogut, indicated talks with Arsenal were progressing positively.“That’s my understanding, yes,” said Wenger.“I always said the fact that we didn’t find an agreement last year doesn’t mean the player will necessarily leave. Both players look happy here and overall I hope the situation can be turned around.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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Modric the latest to join Real Madrid injury list

first_img0Shares0000Luka Modric is the latest Real Madrid player in the treatment room © AFP / GABRIEL BOUYSMADRID, Spain, Feb 20 – Luka Modric has become the latest player to join the queue to the Real Madrid treatment room, with the injury problems starting to pile up for coach Zinedine Zidane.The Croatian playmaker has a thigh injury, meaning he is set to sit out Wednesday’s rearranged La Liga game at Leganes. “He felt a pain and didn’t train today,” Zidane said at a press conference on Tuesday.“I don’t think it’s much. I have confidence in the physios and the doctors, so that he will be back with us quickly.”A statement on Real’s website said Modric “has been diagnosed with a muscle injury in the biceps femoris of the right leg.”They did not say how long he will be out, but the news is a worry with their Champions League last 16, second leg away to Paris Saint-Germain just two weeks away.Modric’s fellow midfielder Toni Kroos is sidelined with an injury to his left knee suffered against PSG last midweek.Meanwhile, Brazilian left-back Marcelo came off with a hamstring problem in Sunday’s 5-3 win at Betis.All three are doubts for the PSG return leg at the Parc des Princes on March 6.Zidane accepted that his players could be feeling the effects from the effort they put in to beat PSG 3-1 last week, a result that has galvanised the reigning European champions after an indifferent run of form.“When you get little injuries, that means that there has been an enormous effort,” said Zidane.“But it’s by putting pressure on ourselves to play with that intensity for 90 minutes every three days that we are able to produce such great performances.”Zidane is likely to rotate his squad for the match at near neighbours Leganes, postponed in December due to Real’s involvement in the Club World Cup. The game kicks off at 1845 (1745GMT).Madrid are fourth in La Liga, 17 points behind leaders Barcelona. But a win will lift them above Valencia and into third.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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Parkman deal first in LAUSD

first_imgWOODLAND HILLS – After a two-month tug-of-war for control of Parkman Middle School, teachers will sign off today on a first-of-a kind agreement that will give them charter-like authority without having to become a charter campus. Few details were released, but those involved said the school will be renamed Woodland Hills Academy and will have three concentrations of study: Humanities/art, medical/health care, and law/government. “We’re elated and grateful that the district, the teachers union and teachers have come together for the beginning of serving and bringing true education to our students,” said Colleen Schwab, one of the Parkman teachers who had petitioned to become a charter school. “Look at what happens when teachers are allowed to take an active part in a school site. We have made an impact on what teachers can do in terms of bringing true reform, improved education offerings and school-site decision-making to a school.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsThe memorandum of understanding hammered out by the teachers union, Los Angeles Unified officials and the school’s faculty grants Parkman greater flexibility over budget and curriculum issues without the district having to surrender jurisdiction over the high-performing school. Concerned that the breakaway effort at Parkman would spark similar campaigns at other San Fernando Valley campuses, district officials scrambled to strike a compromise with teachers chafing under Los Angeles Unified’s constraints. School board member Jon Lauritzen, who had proposed a one-year moratorium on charter applications in order to evaluate the swelling movement, said he’s encouraged by the Parkman model. “We hope to be able to look at where we can create situations like Parkman – where we make a positive situation that’s not necessarily a charter,” he said. “There are a lot of good ideas that have come from charters that we’d like to take a look at and implement some of those programs in our regular schools.” Although the district ultimately persuaded Parkman not to defect, its effort proves that charters are making a difference by forcing traditional public schools to compete, said Caprice Young, a former LAUSD board member who now heads the California Charter Schools Association. “I think the teachers and parents at Parkman planning to go charter has forced the district and the union to think more progressively about its policies,” Young said. United Teachers Los Angeles was interested in expanding the Parkman model to other campuses as part of the school-based management program it’s devised to counter the growing popularity of charters. “I believe we have an agreement with the district to bring on line the first model to be expanded on later of the school-based management schools, which are similar to charter schools,” UTLA President A.J. Duffy said. But Superintendent Roy Romer said the best way to approach school-site autonomy, at least for now, is on a case-by-case basis. “That’s an ongoing debate and we’ll be having that discussion in the months ahead,” he said. “Parkman has some issues and we want to solve those. Whether any generalization comes out of that to other schools is an ongoing discussion.” While school board President Marlene Canter and Romer each said they will monitor Parkman’s progress, they noted that the school’s academic performance has improved steadily over the past six years, and they expect the trend to continue. “I’m a big believer in building upon your success,” Canter said. “The whole concept of decentralization is a big word; it was tried many, many times. There are ways to give more autonomy without sacrificing the gains we’ve made as a district.” naush.boghossian@dailynews.com (818) 713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Learning violin makes season sound sweeter

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals (OK, so I’m 43 and you’re supposed to do this when you are 5 or 6, but I’ve always been a little slow to catch on to what it is I’m supposed to be doing.) As I’d been warned, the craft of violin playing is a challenge. But, like most endeavors in life, if you focus on the journey instead of the destination, you find a lot of pleasure along the way. Like the other night, when I was fiddling around (now recognizing where that term came from), and I began to play an old German Christmas carol. It flowed right out, embedded in my head and heart from childhood Christmas seasons, year after year spent listening to the same treasured (and scratchy) recordings. The sense of well-being that filled me as I played the tune on my violin stunned me, a golden ray of Technicolor piercing the gray of my spiritual torpor. Christmas Eve in the Catholic household I grew up in was a sacred night. Granted, as a child, this was due in no small part to the mountain of gifts accumulating under the tinseled tree and the knowledge that one-tenth of them were mine. But even in later years, when the anticipation of opening presents was replaced with hormones and the anticipation of a glass of champagne or a kiss, it was a night of magic. The moment before I went to bed, I’d stand in the perfect silence of the dark room, lit only by the Christmas tree lights, and feel the spirit of the night swirl around me. Why does magic grow so inaccessible to us as adults? Life nudges us away from it, exposing our childhood dreams and treasured precepts as the naive illusions they’d always been. There is no Santa; there are no such things as fairies and spirits. How then to explain, as I played my violin, the magic sweeping over me like the embrace of a divine spirit? In that moment, I had it all back – the peace, joy and timeless sense of security of my youthful Christmas Eves. December, the “season of cheer,” never fails to evoke ambivalent feelings in me. Yes, there are the twinkling lights and ringing of bells; crimson and gold decorations adorning shops; the intoxicating whiffs of Christmas wreaths and kitchens redolent of freshly baked cookies. But December is also the season of great darkness. We have the more obvious factors: a decrease in daylight hours; cold, gray weather; trees stripped of their leaves that now lie in sodden brown heaps on the ground. There’s the stress of an overly social calendar, the frenzied short-tempered crowds in department stores blasted to 78 degrees, the endless media assault of noisy advertisements that test even the cheeriest of souls. Sadly, for me, the latter December has overcome the former, and with each passing year of my adult life, I find myself left with a “just get through it” attitude toward the season. This year there’s a new variable: I’m learning to play the violin. I look down at my violin now, its sleek, curvy shape, honey-gold wood and smooth varnished surface. The horsehair gliding across the four taut strings produces a sound eerily close to that of a human voice. Better, even. Because, since there are no words, there are no misunderstandings, no stories to fight over, no dogma or precepts that will, invariably, cast us into bitter conflict with those who disagree. And there will always be those who disagree. That is the human condition. But these dour, contentious thoughts are easily bypassed when I pick up my violin. The lowest string sounds rich and deep, the musical equivalent of a bar of Swiss chocolate. The highest string is exquisitely sweet – silvery and ethereal. Playing the carol of my childhood, I revel in this new experience that allows me to celebrate, honor the spirit of the season and the return of the light in the purest way possible. Spirituality rediscovered, in a place I’d least expected it. It’s decided: my violin follows me wherever I go this December. Terez Rose is a freelance writer in Northern California. Write to her by e-mail at terez.writer@sbcglobal.net.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Does Microevolution Add Up?

first_imgDo numerous small changes add up to big ones, like Darwin thought?  In the Jan. 15 issue of Nature,1 New Zealand kiwi David Penny (Allan Wilson Center for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Massey University) is hopeful that the new chimp genome will prove it so:The fundamental issue here is Darwin’s bold claim that “numerous, successive, slight modifications” are sufficient for all of evolution (Fig. 1 [a photo of a group of chimpanzees]).  This can be paraphrased, in later terms, as “microevolution is sufficient to explain macroevolution”.  The historical context is that evolutionary biology can be divided into two phases: first, the acceptance in the 1860s that evolution (macroevolution) had indeed occurred; second, the realization in the mid-1900s that the processes of microevolution (natural selection working through genetics) were necessary for evolution to occur.Although the chimp genome is still in a preliminary draft stage, Penny points to some early results by A.G. Clark that suggest there has been some “positive selection” between ape and human genes, compared to the mouse genome:Use of the mouse genome as an outgroup allows estimates of the number of synonymous (silent) mutations and non-synonymous (replacement) mutations.  The ratio of the two permits the potential identification of genes that have been under positive selection in humans as opposed to chimpanzees, and vice versa.“Not surprisingly,” he then says, ”selective changes occur in both the human and chimpanzee lineages (our common ancestor was neither chimp nor human).”  Like what?  He points to one example Clark found: enzymes for amino acid breakdown appear to have been under positive selection.  What does it mean?This is concordant with the generally high proportion of meat (and thus protein) in the human diet, at least in comparison with the more herbivorous chimpanzee and gorilla.  The increased capacity to break down amino acids is not surprising in another respect.  For example, failure to catabolize phenylalanine has several adverse effects, including brain damage.  Overall, the finding lends support to theories that an increased proportion of meat in the diet of early humans was important for an increase in brain size.  Regardless of that, there could also be ethical implications.  If early humans ate meat ‘naturally’, then for example being vegetarian could be considered a personal choice rather than a universal ethical decision.  But all that can be claimed here is that scientific knowledge will be necessary, even if not sufficient, for solving such ethical questions.The only other case of possible positive selection are differences in smelling genes between apes and men.  Some genes seem to be under positive selection, while others seem to be becoming inactive as pseudogenes.  This work is an example, he thinks, of how evolutionary comparative genomics can stimulate research:These results illustrate how genome-wide information will stimulate new experiments, both at the level of gene expression and with the aim of making physiological comparisons.  What, for instance, is the comparative sensitivity of humans and chimps to a range of olfactory stimuli?  Do humans have an improved receptivity to odours from the increased proportion of meat and/or cooked foods in our diet?  Such tests will allow us to see how genetic differences manifest themselves at the level of the organism, and we can expect a burst of experiments to that end.He touches on other questions: how important is neutral selection?  How can one tell differences in the rates of gene expression?  Do differences in gene expression occur more with conserved genes, or with those undergoing positive selection?  Will these studies help nail down mutation rates?  What is the sustainable reproduction rate?  “If the proportion of deleterious and slightly deleterious mutations is significant,” he notes, “then exact replacement reproductive rates might lead to eventual genetic decline.”  (That doesn’t worry him as much as “the planet’s ecological sustainability,” a “a much more immediate worry.”)    These are tastes of the “plenty of food for thought” that he thinks Clark’s initial studies elicit.  The chimp genome project marches along.  Penny concludes,The full sequence will be available later this year, and further comparative analyses should lead to a definite answer as to whether there is anything in the human genome that is not accounted for by the normal microevolutionary processes.  Is there a genetic continuum between us and our ancestors and the great apes?  If there is, then we can say that these processes are genetically sufficient to fully account for human uniqueness – and that would be my candidate for the top scientific problem solved in the first decade of the new millennium.1David Penny, “Evolutionary biology: Our relative genetics,” Nature 427, 208 (15 January 2004); doi:10.1038/427208a.Ahem.  Why are you asking this question?  Here we are, 150 years after Darwin remade the scientific world, and you still don’t know whether numerous, successive slight modifications could make a man out of an ape?    Notice the wild, unconstrained, bluffing imagination of David Penny.  He takes a few genes that seem to differ in their ability to break down some amino acids, and suddenly we have scientific information on (1) diet, (2) evolution of the brain, and (3) ethics.  Incredible.  In any other field of inquiry, such unjustified extrapolation from meager data would be scorned.  But since Penny is an evolutionary biologist, he gets away with it and his tall tale gets published in all seriousness in Nature, the most esteemed scientific journal in the world.  Why?    It’s important to know something about the Darwinian Revolution.  What happened in 1859 was not just the announcement of a new scientific theory.  It was a fundamental change in the way science is done.  Prior to Darwin, scientists (mostly theists and creationists) believed strongly in proof.  “Nothing on mere authority” was the motto of the Royal Society.  Scientists were careful to distinguish between speculations and facts that were demonstrable through experiment.    But with Darwin, the standards were lowered.  It became permissible to just speculate about a natural phenomenon (see quotation at top right of this page).  Proof was no longer required: Darwin elevated the esteem of the hypothesis in science.    Despite the outrage of many scientists of the period, Darwin’s admirers, including John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer, recognized the essence of what Darwin had done: he had opened up a new framework for storytelling.  They freely admitted that Darwin had not proved his case.  Darwin himself understood that his theory lacked an explanation for variation, for inheritance, or for speciation, and that he had not actually demonstrated any transformations.  Most of the alleged evidence that was adduced in The Origin in support of his hypothesis of natural selection was (1) circumstantial, (2) based on analogy with domestic breeding, or (3) negative theological argument (i.e., “a Designer would not have done it this way”) – an example of the either-or fallacy.  But none of this lack of scientific proof mattered, because Darwin had changed the rules of science to incorporate mere speculation.  Notice what John Stuart Mill said:Mr. Darwin’s remarkable speculation on the origin of species is another unimpeachable example of a legitimate hypothesis. . . . It is unreasonable to accuse Mr. Darwin (as has been done) of violating the rules of induction.  The rules of induction are concerned with the condition of proof.  Mr. Darwin has never pretended that his doctrine was proved.  He was not bound by the rules of induction but by those of hypothesis.  And these last have seldom been more completely fulfilled.  He has opened a path of inquiry full of promise, the results of which none can foresee.  (cited in Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place [Princeton, 2002], p. 186.)Some of those results we see with hindsight: eugenics, communism, and Nazism.  Wake up, people!  Don’t you see what has happened?  The rules of science were changed!  Proof was out.  Hypothesis (read: speculation, imagination) was in.     Let’s get something straight.  Hypothesis is not science.  Hypothesis comes before science.  A hypothesis is merely the hunch, the guess, the heuristic device a scientist uses to begin his experiments that, hopefully, will prove or disprove the hypothesis.  Yes, it takes a good hypothesis to produce good science; Faraday might not have achieved such success without the hunch that the forces of electricity and magnetism were related.  But the hypothesis is not blessed as science until it is proven.  What Darwin did was to create the open-ended hypothesis that no longer required proof.  As emphatically and clearly stated above by John Stuart Mill (the economist whose theories found support in Darwin’s view of a competitive, dog-eat-dog world), Darwin had opened a path of inquiry.  The means was now the end.    Darwin’s hypothesis freed up writers’ block for lots of storytellers in other fields.  Economists like Mill and Marx (for different reasons) were attracted to the image of cutthroat competition.  Politicians found justification for colonialism and expansion of the British Empire.  Racists liked the idea of survival of the fittest (themselves being, of course, the fittest).  It gave artists new themes for sweeping dramatic landscapes.  It gave poets like Tennyson and Browning new themes for probing the human condition.   Composers, psychologists, industrialists, comedians, novelists, journalists, cartoonists and the man on the street all began to look at the world with this new framework.  It didn’t matter whether the framework was supported on a solid foundation of fact.  The play was the thing.    The problem with Darwin’s anti-Baconian New Atlantis was that hypotheses and speculations can be infinitely varied, endless yarns that, unless nailed down with factual proof, are no better than dreams and myths.  They may be dressed in scientific terms, but can be 180 degrees wrong.  Science was supposed to be a reliable methodology for obtaining truth about the natural world.  It was supposed to require not just a hypothesis, but a large accumulation of facts that actually supported the hypothesis, not just might support it.  But Darwinism brought in grand, sweeping glittering generalities incapable of proof.  It is also the reason most Darwinian stories in the journals are futureware: empty promises that the proof is out there, still waiting to be discovered, someday over the rainbow, once we find water on Mars, or once the chimp genome is finished, or whatever.  When the promised data are not helpful, no matter; just push the envelope a little farther out, and the story goes on.    Now clearly, Darwin’s redefinition of science did spawn a lot of experimentation.  Darwin himself was almost obsessive-compulsive in his observations of orchids, barnacles and pigeons, as Janet Browne describes in her highly-acclaimed biography (recommended reading).  But most of this was a hunt for tidbits of data that might lend support to his hypothesis of natural selection.  None of it was proof.  Nothing he found demonstrated great transformations between any plants or animals: it just might have.  He was an advocate looking for support, no better than a cultist trying to proof-text his heresy with snippets of Bible verses that might be consistent with his preconceived hunch, whether or not the context justifies it.    For instance, when Darwin eagerly sought evidence that honeybees had varied (Browne, p. 203), the evidence was negligible.  Did this falsify his hypothesis?  No way.  “In desperation,” Browne writes, “Darwin turned the question on its head: if there were no physical differences, perhaps there might be variations in behaviour?” (Ibid.)  Darwin set the example of having a hypothesis that was so flexible and imaginative, no amount of negative evidence could ever falsify it.  He opened the scientific world to storytellers, providing them welfare and job security (see 12/22/2003).    That is why David Penny can write nonsense and get it published in a scientific journal.  That is why after 150 years, Darwin’s “path of inquiry” is still asking fundamental questions you thought Darwin had already answered.  This explains why Eugenie Scott, Michael Ruse and all the other Darwin Party advocates can bluff about the “rules of science” that guarantee perpetuation of Darwinism and exclude alternatives, no matter how much evidence contradicts it.  That is why most debaters against creationists focus so much time on either (1) circumstantial evidence, (2) analogies, and (3) negative theological arguments, instead of trying to prove Darwin’s hypothesis that numerous slight, successive modifications have indeed added up to major changes, from bacteria to man.  And that is why Darwin Party members are gainfully employed in their endless quest for tiny pieces of data that might be consistent with what has become the reigning mythology of our time.  Evolutionism itself evolves.  Like an animal presumably varying without purpose or design, evolutionary storytelling proceeds by mutation and selection (selective evidence, that is), wandering aimlessly in storyland.    Unless the scientific community raises its standards and gets back to the requirement that a hypothesis is not science till proven, then this welfare state of storytellers will persist.  The public has been hoodwinked.  The charlatans have become the shamans.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Survival of the Weakest

first_img(Visited 356 times, 2 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 If “sometimes it pays to be a weakling,” what does that mean for 154 years of Darwinian teaching about survival of the fittest?  What does it mean, further, when sexual selection doesn’t work?Natural selection works, except when it doesn’t:  Science Now teased with the shocking headline, “Sometimes it pays to be a weakling.”  The article discussed rams and their big horns.  Decades of study are now showing that while the rams with the biggest horns tend to win mates, they die younger; the weaker ones with stubby horns have enough offspring to maintain their genes in the population.  So there’s a tradeoff; “Horn length has opposite effects on reproduction and survival,” one author of a new study explained.  This tradeoff affects more than just sheep:Pondering the peacock’s elaborate plumage, the father of evolutionary biology, Charles Darwin, proposed that the drive for sex—and for producing offspring—was a powerful force in evolution. Fending off potential rivals or vying for a female’s attention has driven males to be ever more extreme—bigger, stronger, more colorful. This process, called sexual selection, should also affect the genes, so that only versions of genes that lead to these enhanced qualities should exist. But this isn’t what happens in the real world. There are plenty of small, weak males among the supermen.Sexual selection works, except when it doesn’t:  Another article on Science Now cuts away at the other “selection” pillar of Darwinism, sexual selection. “Forget plumage; birds sniff out good mates,” the headline shouts.  As shown in a previous article, female peahens don’t even look at all those fancy feathers on the peacock (7/30/13).  Now, another study on birds says that it’s smell, not looks, that attracts the females: “bird odor was a more reliable predictor of reproductive success than a male’s size or his plumage.”  Do the males just grow all those ornaments for fun?  Why would sexual or natural selection drive the extremes of ornamentation, if they really don’t make that big a difference to reproductive success?Spider fandango:   A cute and humorous case of male ornamentation and behavior was posted on Live Science about jumping spiders in Australia called peacock spiders.  These little guys can dance!  Only 4 mm in size, the males might have been overlooked but for photographer Jürgen Otto, who has patiently documented their mating rituals.  The male sports a vividly colored tail flap that, “once unfurled, resembles an abstract Indian blanket of intense color,” which he shakes in a rapid courtship dance.  Even those who hate spiders will have to admit that the antics of these critters are cute, especially when put to music, as shown in video clips included in the interview.  Asked how this evolved, Otto said, “I am not sure, but it evolved probably in a similar fashion as it did in birds of paradise or peacocks, a result of sexual selection.”There’s no question that extremes of sexual dimorphism occur in nature; but among other species within the same family or order, the males and females often look similar.  This means that sexual selection, if it works at all, is not a universal principle in biology.  Is it useful, then?  Try that with any other explanation.  “I’m a good student except when I’m not.”  “I can answer any question except the ones I don’t know the answer to.”  “I tell the truth except when I lie.”  This is the kind of science bequeathed to us by Charles Darwin.  Are we better off with his legacy?  Send that charlatan back on the boat.last_img read more

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