Eating, sacrifice, and the Gospel

640px-Good_Food_Display_-_NCI_Visuals_OnlineWhen a thale cress plant is being eaten by a caterpillar, it responds by sending out mustard oil, which is toxic to caterpillars.  Other stimuli doesn’t trigger this reaction.  Somehow the plant knows when it is being eaten.

Read about the research and watch a video about it after the jump.  One of the scientists who discovered this effect observes that plants have “behavior” just like animals do.  And they must have, in some sense, a kind of awareness.

Which speaks to us about the Gospel.  And Maundy Thursday.  As I have pointed out before, there can be no life without sacrifice of another life.  Another living being must die in order for us to live.  We call this eating.

We cannot be nourished by inorganic chemicals, minerals, rocks, or other objects.  We have to eat other living things.  It doesn’t matter whether we eat an animal or a plant.  A plant is just as alive as an animal is.  Even “fruititarians,” who will not destroy whole plants, are eating the living cells of their fruit.  No one can escape the reality that our life is sustained by death.  Or, rather, that death allows us to live.  And that life comes from death.

What is true in nature is a sign of what is supremely true spiritually.  Our spiritual life depends on God the Son’s self-sacrifice for us.  If we refuse His death for us, we die spiritually.  But His death gives us life and continues to nourish us.  Eventually, we will die physically, but, as with another natural sign that we see in plants, life comes from death.  We will be raised, just as Christ was raised.

And to sustain us with His sacrifice, on the night that He was betrayed,

Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the  covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28) 

 

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Why your shoelaces come untied

Shoelaces_02On April Fool’s Day, not at the time being able to think of anything better, tried the old gag on two of my granddaughters:  “Your shoe is untied!”

One said, “Nice try.  But I’m wearing sandals.”  With the other, her shoe really was untied.

I report my failed joke to introduce a fascinating bit of research.  Engineers have determined why and how people’s shoelaces become untied.

The action of the foot striking the ground loosens the knot and the swinging of the leg acts much like a hand pulling on the strings.

This discovery, detailed at a physics website after the jump, contributes to the field of “knot mechanics,” which turns out to be an important topic.
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Does the scientific method apply to psychology?

imprisoned-2066638_640We’ve blogged about the problem in the field of psychology that so many of their research experiments can’t be replicated.  That means that, according to the scientific method, they are invalid.

The problem continues, and it’s compounded by the fact that the profession doesn’t seem to care!

The proliferation of peer-reviewed articles whose results can’t be repeated keeps building.  Despite these findings, nothing is changing in the way psychologists do their research, the way journals vet their articles, or in the articles that get published.

An article on the subject, quoted and linked after the jump, says that as many as two-thirds of psychology articles “can’t be trusted.”

But let me pose a different way to look at this problem.  Can it be that the same scientific method used for chemistry and biology is unusable in the study of the minds of human beings?  People are active agents, not inanimate objects that follow only natural laws.  So it’s no wonder human beings are unpredictable and inconsistent.  And different subjects and groups react in different ways.

After I quote the article, I quote a commenter, who points out that there may be other ways to design, evaluate, and learn from various kinds of research, in addition to strict application of “the scientific method.”

In fact, the view that the scientific method is the only way to know truth–not logical reasoning (as in philosophy) and certainly not revelation (as in theology)–is surely one of the more reductionist errors of the Enlightenment.

I have no problem jettisoning 2/3 of the published research in experimental psychology–though it would help to know which 2/3–and the lack of response of the professionals in the field is inexcusable.  But maybe what all of this proves, with an abundance of replication, is the protean quality of the human psyche. And that would be an important scientific finding.  It would even be empirical and replicable. [Read more…]

Holy Sepulchre needs more repair or it might collapse

Domes_of_the_Church_of_the_Holy_SepulchreRestoration work on the shrine built around the likely spot of Christ’s tomb has been completed.  (See this and this and this.)  But researchers have found that the shrine and the surrounding complex have been built on unstable ground.  Without more work, there could someday be a “catastrophic” collapse.

The “edicule,” the small building around the tomb that has been restored, preserves the remnants of a cave.  It was once part of a quarry that had been turned into grave sites for wealthy Jews.  (Note the confirmation of what the Bible says about Joseph of Arimathea, who offered the grave that he owned for the body of Jesus.)  A number of those other grave sites have also been discovered on the property.  The quarry is also thought to have been the site of “the Place of the Skull,” the Golgotha where criminals were executed.  This is why the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex also includes the reported site of the crucifixion.

The site over the ancient quarry is honeycombed with other caves and tunnels from the mining.  The current structure is also built on top of tons of rubble, not only from the quarry but from layers of  building and rebuilding over the centuries.  Plus, the graves were dug into a slope.  Drainage problems and damage from so many visitors are compounding the problem.

Researchers are proposing a six million euro project to shore up the buildings and to stabilize the foundations.  The construction work would be accompanied with more archaeological excavation.
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All mammals can swim, except for two

tiger-455804_640Contrary to what used to be thought, virtually all mammals can swim.  Cats?  Yes, though they hate it.  Camels?  Yes, despite seldom seeing water.  Pigs?  Yes. Elephants?  They are excellent swimmers.  Throw a bat into the water and it will use its little wings like oars.

From what we know now, apparently there are only two mammals–one species and one genus–that can’t instinctively swim.  Guess, and then see what they are–along with a fascinating article on the subject–after the jump.

 

Photo of tiger swimming by cuzitwasgood, Pixabay, Creative Commons, Public Domain

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The myth of learning styles

Right_brainYou know how some people are “right brained” and other people are “left brained”?

And how children are either auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners?  And how they learn best if they are taught according to their particular learning style?

Well, none of that is true!  That educational fad of a few years ago has been thoroughly discredited by scientific research.  And yet teachers, curriculum, and teacher education courses are still teaching it.

A group of neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators in England has issued a public letter pointing this out and begging teachers to drop this stuff and to instead use approaches that are evidence-based. [Read more…]