Category Archives: Science / Environment

Polynesian Navigation

The settlement of Polynesia has always fascinated me. There are even two pieces of archeological evidence for Polynesian contact with the Americas — evidence of a species of chicken in present day Chille, and, more romantically, Polynesian canoe technology among a Calfornia NAI tribe.

But how did they cover those endless streches of pacific ocean?

. . . Sharp’s reassessment caused a huge amount of controversy and led to a stalemate between the romantic and the skeptical views.

By the mid-to-late 1960s it was time for a new hands-on approach. Anthropologist David Lewis sailed his catamaran from Tahiti to New Zealand using stellar navigation without instruments. . . . At the same time, ethnographic research in the Caroline Islands in Micronesia brought to light the fact that traditional stellar navigational methods were still very much in everyday use there.

Polynesian navigators employed a whole range of techniques including use of the stars, the movement of ocean currents and wave patterns, the air and sea interference patterns caused by islands and atolls, the flight of birds, the winds and the weather.

Harold Gatty suggested that long-distance Polynesian voyaging followed the seasonal paths of bird migrations.

The first settlers of the Hawaiian Islands are thought to have sailed from the Marquesas Islands using Polynesian navigation methods. To test this theory, the Hawaiian Polynesian Voyaging Society was established in 1973. The group built a replica of an ancient double-hulled canoe called the Hōkūle‘a, whose crew successfully navigated the Pacific Ocean from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti in 1976 without instruments. In 1980, a Hawaiian named Nainoa Thompson invented a new method of non instrument navigation (called the “modern Hawaiian wayfinding system”), enabling him to complete the voyage from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti and back. In 1987, a Māori named Matahi Whakataka (Greg Brightwell) and his mentor Francis Cowan sailed from Tahiti to Aotearoa without instruments.

NPR’s anti-human propaganda: Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

It’s a tragedy to see so many good people fall for this nonsense. I console myself by imagining that this as the process through which humanity sheds from its gene pool that excessive nurturing instinct which is probably no longer a benefit to one’s genes in the modern world.

In the modern world, long free from the Malthusian Trap, aggression (at least a little) seems a better evolutionary strategy than boundless altruism.

Actually, Raising Beef Is Good for the Planet

This article focuses on the ways that grass-fed cattle are part of an eco-system that fertilizes soil and restores carbon into soil, and requires grassland with fights erosion.

I’ve encountered an even stronger argument that agriculture is much more devastating to local ecosystems than free-range cattle, but I can’t for the life of me find the article. It was also authored by a former believer who’d converted. I think it focused on Australia.

Research: Human friendships based on genetic similarities beyond the superficial

Friends often look alike. The tendency of people to forge friendships with people of a similar appearance has been noted since the time of Plato. But now there is research suggesting that, to a striking degree, we tend to pick friends who are genetically similar to us in ways that go beyond superficial features.

For example, you and your friends are likely to share certain genes associated with the sense of smell.

Our friends are as similar to us genetically as you’d expect fourth cousins to be, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This means that the number of genetic markers shared by two friends is akin to what would be expected if they had the same great-great-great-grandparents.

Ritualized Human Sacrifices helped cement societal hierarchies

I can’t tell if this is stating the obvious or not:

The ancients could kill you in a million different ways and give you a million different reasons why it needed to be done. In much of the pre-modern world, ritual sacrifice was framed as necessary for the good of the society at large — the only way to guarantee, say, a plentiful harvest or success in war.

But the priests and rulers who sanctioned such killings may have had another motive, a new study suggests. An analysis of more than seven dozen Austronesian cultures revealed that the practice of human sacrifices tended to make societies increasingly less egalitarian and eventually gave rise to strict, inherited class systems. In other words, ritual killings helped keep the powerful in power and everyone else in check.

That finding might seem intuitive — societies in which some members are habitually killed probably value certain lives over others — but it has broader implications, the researchers said in the journal Nature. It suggests a “darker link between religion and the evolution of modern hierarchical societies,” they write, in which “ritual killings helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors and the large, stratified societies we live in today.”

A Review of Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own

Suppose you could a) improve your own IQ by 10 points, or b) improve the IQs of your countrymen (but not your own) by 10 points. Which would do more to increase your income? The answer is (b), and it’s not even close. The latter choice improves your income by about 6 times more than the former choice. . . .

Jones devotes much of the book to explaining why this empirical regularity exists. Many of the reasons that he discusses are political or cultural. For instance, he presents evidence showing that high-IQ countries tend to have less corruption. He also presents evidence from laboratory experiments showing that high-IQ people tend to cooperate with each other more than low-IQ people.

Jones also discusses some reasons from microeconomics that help explain the empirical regularity. Specifically, he shows that your own productivity tends to increase when you work around people who have high IQs. . . .

The parable begins with a simplifying assumption. This is that it takes exactly two workers to make a vase: one to blow it from molten glass and another to pack it for delivery. Now suppose that two workers, A1 and A2, are highly skilled—if they are assigned to either task they are guaranteed not to break the vase. Suppose two other workers, B1 and B2, are less skilled—specifically, for either task each has a 50% probability of breaking the vase.

Now suppose you are worker A1. If you team up with A2, you produce a vase every attempt. However, if you team up with B1 or B2, then only 50% of your attempts will produce a vase. Thus, your productivity is higher when you team up with A2 than with one of the B workers. Something similar happens with the B workers. They are more productive when they are paired with an A worker than with a fellow B worker.

So far, everything I’ve said is probably pretty intuitive. But here’s what’s not so intuitive. Suppose you’re the manager of the vase company and you want to produce as many vases as possible. Are you better off by (i) pairing A1 with A2 and B1 with B2, or (ii) pairing A1 with one of the B workers and A2 with the other B worker?

If you do the math, it’s clear that the first strategy works best. Here, the team with two A workers produces a vase with 100% probability, and the team with the two B workers produces a vase with 25% probability. Thus, in expectation, the company produces 1.25 vases per time period. With the second strategy, both teams produce a vase with 50% probability. Thus, in expectation, the company produces only one vase per time period.

The example illustrates how workers’ productivity is often interdependent—specifically, how your own productivity increases when your co-workers are skilled.

The example generates an even more remarkable implication. It says that, if you are a manager of a company (or the central planner of an entire economy), then your optimal strategy is to clump your best workers together on the same project rather than spreading them out amongst your less-able workers.

The parable has some interesting implications for immigration policy. . . .

300 Scientists Tell Congress – NOAA Climate Data Re-Writes May Be Criminal

As part of their press to have their wild claims of man-caused global warming accepted as factual science, the scheming alarmists often cited a statistic that 97% of the world’s top climate scientists support their fairy tale. Now a group of elite scientists and others are on the record disputing those claims, and in numbers that would also challenge those who throw out that 97% consensus figure.

With the alarmists allowing for only three percent of the scientific community to be in opposition to their claims, the three hundred would conversely commit the global warming crowd to a minimum of 9,700 accredited experts in support of their claims, if every scientist in opposition signed the letter. Are they prepared with names and endorsements to substantiate those assertions?

The three hundred scientist signatories included 25 climate or atmospheric scientists, 23 geologists, 18 meteorologists, 51 engineers, 74 physicists, 20 chemists and 12 economists. One is a Nobel Prize winning physicist and two are astronauts. These experts sent a letter to Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith on Thursday, and to his House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In it they warned that NOAA may have violated federal law when they rewrote history and climate science by altering global temperature data.

They did so in what appears to have been a deliberate effort to eliminate the actual information which showed there had been no warming at all for a minimum of fifteen years. The facts were proving to be problematic for the Obama regime and the UN in advance of the UN COP21 climate summit in Paris. Not only did they eliminate the troublesome pause, they doubled down, providing the basis for the globalist arguments that the first fifteen years of the 21st century were the warmest on record.