(Or, why I left Facebook for good)

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You are being watched. You are being manipulated.

Through Facebook, at least 200 elections across the globe have been rigged by wealthy oligarchs including the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit vote in the UK, and it all happened because Facebook is harvesting personal and private data from users like you. This isn’t a debate, these are the hard facts. These events have involved a sheer magnitude of constitutional crime which has never been seen before in the world, and it all happened thanks to the global reach of a company we all know and thought that we trusted: Facebook. This article will look in depth at what Facebook has done and continues to do in terms of manipulating its users, and will also seek to explain its shocking inaction on political lying, genocide, and political violence by giving an overview of the company’s business model and economic tendencies. …


Keeping a Low Profile in the Age of Corporate and State Sponsored Spying

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Privacy is a basic human right according the the UN Declaration and is listed under article 12. Nevertheless, we have never experienced less privacy, perhaps ever in history, than we do in the Digital Age. …


An exploration of 5 technologies aiming to define our sustainable lifestyles of the future and whether they really may have what it takes to change our lives for the better.

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What do the cities of the future have in store?

Carbon Capture

Imagine a future world in which mankind can undo, at least in part, the vast emissions of CO2 it has made into the atmosphere in order to lessen the impact of global warming trends. This kind technology, which would allow us to remove CO2 directly from the air is being developed right now. It’s known as “carbon capture” and has become as inexpensive as $100 per metric tonne of CO2 removed thanks to the clean-energy company Carbon Engineering. Best of all, the only inputs are water and low amounts of energy: a prime example of green chemistry.


Why the earth should be the centre of the solar system

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Ptolemaic Armillary Sphere, by John Rowley, London, c. 1700 (Oxford History of Science Collection)

The object pictured above, an armillary sphere, is a symbol of geometric order and beauty. It is a physical model of our universe with the Earth at the centre and with every ring moving outward at regular intervals representing each of the heavenly bodies in their observed order: the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and, finally, the stars which are fixed in place as constellations.

As anyone with a jot of astronomical experience will tell you, there are plenty of things wrong with this model. Not only are planetary orbits actually elliptical rather than circular, and not only are they missing Neptune and Uranus, but the order of the planets is also entirely wrong because the Sun is the true centre of the solar system, not the Earth! …


A brief glimpse into the shared history of science and demonology and what they can tell us today

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Jesus casts out a legion of demons from a young man. Engraving. (Mark 1:21–28 and Luke 4:31–37)

Demonology isn’t exactly the first thing to spring to mind when considering science. As a matter of fact, it seems to lack most of science’s most important traits. Modern criteria like validity, usefulness, consistency, quantifiability and falsification all seem to fit the ancient art of demonology as well as your favourite childhood hat would fit your adult head.

And yet, for a long while, that hat did fit.

In the same way, Demonology was once a very serious science requiring training and expertise and it can tell us a lot about how far the modern world has come and about the ongoing difficulty of keeping superstition out of science. Throughout history, practices like exorcism mirrored those of medicinal healing and explanations of the world could take place, with relatively good accuracy, using models involving dark spirits and devils in place of interacting particles, cells or chemical compounds. Furthermore, natural phenomena could be well understood, even predicted and qualified, using spiritual models. Even if results were purely gained through what would now be called “placebo”, they were results none the less. …


All good things are wild and free

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By the fifth day, the storm had not stopped and the emptiness became piercing. The rain spattered so gently on the roof that I could almost hear the slow rusting of the ceiling panels which were, currently, fading into a pale orange hue as the moisture seeped between its near-invisible cracks, dripping quietly onto the ground.

The shack was cold.

The wet air was taking its effect on my body, much like it had done to the roof, and I could feel the stiffening of my joints.

The slowing of numerous gears and cogs within my head were making me dumb. But there was no more cleaning oil left in the can by the window-sill, and so I would have to bear the slow oxidation as long as I could until the rain stopped, and even then the calm would need to last for the 9 kilometer walk into town. …


The history we forget

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The Taj Mahal in India

Our age has become defined, in part, by a revival of disparaging views about Arabic people and about Islam itself. Associations with terrorism, primeval traditions and dictatorial regimes have tainted and skewed our collective understanding of the identity and history of one of the world largest faiths and cultures. Even when we in the “West” are not explicit in our disapproval of Islam, we still communicate our distrust by remaining passive and accepting of Islamophobia in the form of “random” airport checks and by avoiding people who appear to be Muslim.

In this time, more than ever, it is important to remind ourselves of Islam’s not so distant past: a history rich with beauty, enlightenment and scientific progress. All of the following figures found no conflict between their Islamic faith and the science they practiced, instead perceiving their religious beliefs to be an important part of their scientific and academic work. …


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It’s already too late, reducing emissions alone won’t be enough

Without a means of removing vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, our chances of combating climate change are depressingly slim. This was one of the findings of a recent set of simulations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year.

Until fairly recently, the prospect of carbon removal seemed incredibly far-fetched, even the cheapest carbon removal technology, from the Swiss company Climeworks, set an eye-wateringly high price of $600 per tonne of CO2 removed.

Recently, however, this figure has dropped dramatically thanks to Canadian company “Carbon Engineering” who are managing to remove CO2 for $100 per tonne. …


How harmful incentives, misleading science and embittered scientists demonstrate a need for reform

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We trust scientists to give us something incredibly vital: the truth.

But as recent years have passed, the truth has become less and less important.

Conflicts of interest, perverse incentives, poorly designed methods and sensationalized results are just a few of the many unseemly warts blemishing the face of modern science and turning it into an enterprise full of misrepresentation and unreliability.

And at this rate, those warts won’t be disappearing any time soon.

Publish or Perish

“Over time the most successful people will be those who can best exploit the system” — Paul Smaldino of the University of California…


The legacy of Teniers’ historic art

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“The Alchemist” By David Teniers the Younger (circa 1645). Medium: oil on wooden pannel.

Popular throughout Europe, the practice of alchemy and medicine were regarded by seventeenth-century lay folk in a way which was by no means straightforward. Many regarded both endeavours (between which there was exeptionally little distinction) as fruitless, fraudulent and sinful while others viewed them as diligent and noble attempts to gain knowledge and improve the lot of mankind. This heterogeneity of opinion is well-reflected rise in the popular theme of alchemy and medicine in seventeenth-century art where portrayals of both doctors and alchemists vary from vilification to affectionate praise.

The painting depicted above falls into the latter category, the alchemist (right) is depicted as an earnest and humble old man. Absorbed in his work, he is surrounded by open books and is in the process of stirring some form of mixture with his right hand, both serving as indications of his diligence. His colourful, but plain clothing is an indication of his humble lifestyle. The workplace itself, a fascinating precursor to the modern laboratory, is filled with a varied assortment of apparatus involving the application of heat to different compounds. Above the various furnaces, we can see an assortment of glass flasks and strangely shaped kettles, some of which appear to have been arranged to carry out distillation. Although flattering, the painting seems very in keeping with many of Teniers’ other works which faithfully portray their respective subjects with realism, as was the baroque tradition. …

About

Corlett Novis

Former Editor at Pi Media (London) interested in Digital Economy. Anti-capitalism. Pro-ecology.

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