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Religion vs. Evolution: Which Explains Which?

first_imgEvolutionists have a running theme that evolving humans invented religion for various evolutionary reasons.In her most blatant article in recent years, Elizabeth Palermo at Live Science purports to tell the rest of mankind where their religion came from.  Her article is entitled, “The Origins of Religion: How Supernatural Beliefs Evolved.” To sound authoritative, she picks an expert named Kelly James Clark, a senior research fellow at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute in Michigan.Picture this: You’re a human being living many thousands of years ago. You’re out on the plains of the Serengeti, sitting around, waiting for an antelope to walk by so you can kill it for dinner. All of a sudden, you see the grasses in front of you rustling. What do you do? Do you stop and think about what might be causing the rustling (the wind or a lion, for example), or do you immediately take some kind of action?“On the plains of the Serengeti, it would be better to not sit around and reflect. People who took their time got selected out,” Clark told Live Science. Humans who survived to procreate were those who had developed what evolutionary scientists call a hypersensitive agency-detecting device, or HADD, he said.In short, HADD is the mechanism that lets humans perceive that many things have “agency,” or the ability to act of their own accord. This understanding of how the world worked facilitated the rapid decision-making process that humans had to go through when they heard a rustling in the grass. (Lions act of their own accord. Better run.)But is this a just-so story masquerading as a scientific explanation? Does giving an imaginary human response an acronym provide understanding? In order to look unbiased, Palermo suggests a different scenario, appealing to Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford for expertise:But not everyone agrees that religious thinking is just a byproduct of evolution — in other words, something that came about as a result of nonreligious, cognitive faculties. Some scientists see religion as more of an adaptation — a trait that stuck around because the people who possessed it were better able to survive and pass on their genes.At first, Palermo seems to want to avoid reductionism.  Both scenarios, however, are completely naturalistic, relying on Darwinian selection.  As such, they deny any rational content in religion.  It’s all the outcome of genetic forces in the prey-vs-predator competition.A Fool and Her Theory Are Soon PartedObservers may wish to read “How scientists fool themselves, and how they can stop” by Regina Nuzzo in Nature.  One of four sources of cognitive bias she warns about is just-so storytelling:As data-analysis results are being compiled and interpreted, researchers often fall prey to just-so storytelling — a fallacy named after the Rudyard Kipling tales that give whimsical explanations for things such as how the leopard got its spots. The problem is that post-hoc stories can be concocted to justify anything and everything — and so end up truly explaining nothing. Baggerly says that he has seen such stories in genetics studies, when an analysis implicates a huge number of genes in a particular trait or outcome. “It’s akin to a Rorschach test,” he said at the bioinformatics conference. Researchers will find a story, he says, “whether it’s there or not. The problem is that occasionally it ain’t real.”Two of Nuzzo’s recommendations are to seriously consider alternatives and invite debate by those who disagree. Evolution News & Views gave high marks to the late atheist evolutionist Will Provine for doing this (see ENV #1, ENV #2, ID the Future with Phillip Johnson, ID the Future with Paul Nelson). Many creationists and ID advocates have encouraged debate (see Academic Freedom Petition) and have complained about the often one-sided presentation of evolution. Palermo’s article, though it presents two views, is an example of cognitive bias where only Darwinians need apply.Moral Evolution Without the E-WordOne cannot find the word evolution in two articles about the origin of morality, but what is the message?  There’s no mention of evolution, for instance, in a press release from the U of Missouri on Science Daily that talks about the “development of altruism.” But there’s also no moral standard. What the psychologists look for is “prosocial” behavior, which might be interpreted as two individuals patting one another on the back. Toss in a little sympathy (feeling for another’s wants), and you get this from Gustavo Carlo, a “professor of diversity” at the university:Engaging in prosocial behaviors has a self-reinforcing quality that eventually may become incorporated into how adolescents view their moral selves; this may help explain how some individuals, over time, become more likely to engage in prosocial behaviors and become more sympathetic, Carlo said.In this view, the “moral self” is an illusion based on behaviors that become self-reinforcing. But if altruistic behavior is scientifically amoral, on what basis does Carlo advocate moral education that “encourages boys and girls to express their prosociality“?  Is that morally good?A psychologist from Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich with the name sounding like a Roman philosopher (Markus Paulus) offers his views on the “emergence of morality in toddlers” in a Commentary in PNAS. If humans are products of evolution, they are remarkable, he begins:Humans are a remarkable species. Not only do they display prosocial behavior to an extent that is unseen in other species, but these tendencies are also shaped by moral norms that prescribe what we ought and ought not to do. It is a central characteristic of moral norms that they are of an impersonal nature and apply likewise to the self and other. Thus, humans also evaluate their conspecifics’ behaviors on basis of moral standards and punish or reward them based on these moral judgments.Paulus avoids use of the e-word evolution. He does, however, delve into the usual materialistic debates about the “ontogenetic origins of human morality” with heavy reliance on neuroscience experiments to provide understanding.  Morality, he suggests, is a malleable quality depending on embryonic development and social conditioning.  To some extent, that is evident; children tend to follow the moral standards of their families, tribes and societies.  Not always, though. Some turn to religion after a training in atheism, and vice versa.  Some make choices based on their own observations and reasoning, such as from reading books, not from evolutionary influences on their social group.  To deny the ability of reasoning to change one’s mind based on evidence or new information undercuts Paulus’s own credibility.Can morality be explained in a vacuum?  At the end of the commentary Paulus changes tone, almost getting a tinge of conscience over having naturalized morality:It should be noted that research on human morality cannot be judged from a neutral point of view — a view from nowhere — as we are all continuously engaged in moral considerations and debates. Any research on moral behavior presupposes thus a particular view on what we judge to be moral or not moral. The basis of this differentiation, that is, the justifications of norms, can only be understood from the perspective of someone who participates in a moral debate. Consequently, we need to be careful to not confuse normative questions about the validity of norms with empirical signatures of moral judgments and social evaluations, as the latter can only be empirically assessed when one presupposes a particular normative view on what is actually good or bad. In the present case of perceiving clearly antisocial and violent behaviors, such a judgment seems common-sense. Nevertheless, it would be good to keep in mind the normative presuppositions we are making when examining moral judgment and moral conduct. Such a combined effort of moral neuroscience, moral philosophy, and moral psychology seems to be well equipped to raise our understanding of the ontogenetic origins of human morality to the next level.Paulus just hinted that certain things can be “actually good or bad,” not just so defined based on one’s social context. But is it “good” to “keep in mind” that such presuppositional questions are best addressed in the academy (moral neuroscience, moral philosophy, moral psychology), rather than in church?  Having briefly awakened from his dogmatic slumbers, it appears that Markus Paulus promptly rolled over and went back to sleep.Giving Religion a Minute on the SoapboxScience Magazine took advantage of the Pope’s visit to America to seek a Catholic view on science and religion. Edwin Cartlidge, a science writer from Rome, asked the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, Guy Consalmagno, what he thinks. One tidbit: “God doesn’t get in the way of doing good astronomy,” Consolmagno said: “Just the opposite. He is the reason we do astronomy.”Consalmagno used the opportunity to advertise a couple of important Catholics in modern science, Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre.  But he also pointed to some of the presuppositions that underlie all of science: belief in an orderly universe of laws, confidence that the universe is real (not an illusion), and the conviction that “the universe is so good that it is worth spending your life studying it, even if you don’t become rich or famous.”Catholics get an outsized platform in the American science media even though they are a religious minority.  At least three reasons account for this: (1) Catholicism has a celebrity figurehead (the Pope) that Protestants do not.  Reporters are attracted to powerful people.  (2) There is a perception that Catholicism has been static ever since Peter. Anyone who knows church history knows how false that is. (3) Catholics never question important consensus views like the big bang or an old earth, and are wishy-washy about Darwinian evolution.  These factors draw science reporters to tolerate Catholics part way. Don’t hold your breath for Protestant creationists to get such a platform in the press, even though some of them are just as scientifically qualified as the Vatican astronomer, if not more so.Contest! We’ve answered the likes of Palermo’s “evolution of religion” articles so many times, we want to give our readers a try at it.  Read her piece, and write a concise response, pointing out the flaws in her reasoning.  Try to make watertight arguments that the most ardent evolutionists cannot deny. The best entries will be added to our commentary.Extra credit: tackle another “evolution of religion” theory by psychologist Steven Reiss of Ohio State, presented favorably without critique on PhysOrg.(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Solving early human culture riddle

first_imgOstrich eggshell beads from Border Cave, which show similar production techniques as those used by Kalahari San women. People used beads as part of a gift exchange system, just as modern people give and receive presents from each other. A Kalahari San woman drilling through beads to produce perforations. Prof Francesco d’Errico, leader of the international research team. The site is a treasure trove for archaeologists as it records well preserved organic remains from that time. (Images: Lucinda Backwell) Notched bones were used for counting purposes and the stone tools discovered in the same archaeological layers show a gradual evolution in stone tool technology. (Image: Francesco d’Errico and Lucinda Backwell) MEDIA CONTACTS • Erna van Wyk   Communications Officer  Wits University  +27 11 717 4023 RELATED ARTICLES • Fossils tell the mammal story • No bedbugs for early humans • Maropeng top evotourism destination • Khoisan couple home at last Wilma den HartighRecent analysis and dating of archaeological material discovered at a rock shelter in South Africa reveals that modern human behaviour, as we know it, developed much earlier than previously thought.The findings of a multi-disciplinary research team made up of scientists from all over the world has shed new light on this topic, providing answers to the crucial question of when in prehistory human cultures similar to ours emerged – something that human evolution scientists have grappled with for many years.Dr Lucinda Backwell, a senior researcher in palaeoanthropology at Wits University says until now, many archaeologists believed the oldest traces of San hunter-gatherer people in South Africa dated back 10 000 to 20 000 years, at the most.However, when researchers analysed objects retrieved from archaeological layers at KwaZulu-Natal’s Border Cave, they discovered people lived at this site as far bar back as 44 000 years ago.“This find is important because it shows the earliest evidence of modern human behaviour as we know it,” Backwell explains.“What we found there shows that people made use of symbolism, they were innovative and had cognitive ability.“It reveals that we are more like than we think we are.”More alike to our ancestorsProf Francesco d’Errico, leader of the international team and director of research at the French National Research Centre, says their results confirm that when people in southern Africa developed a lifestyle similar to that of hunter-gatherers, it remained almost unchanged for 40 000 years.He believes this adds a new dimension to the definition of modern cultural adaptation.“We often consider modern behaviour as synonymous with rapid cultural turn over,” D’Errico says.“The results show that even among modern humans, as among previous human species, culture can remain almost unchanged for very long, when there is no need to change.”What they foundThe site is a treasure trove for archaeologists as it records well preserved organic remains from that time. By using radio carbon methods, microscopic and chemical analysis, the team was able to identify how the artefacts were manufactured, used and what they were made of.“We were able to show in this way that already 44 000 years ago the inhabitants of this site manufactured and used many artefacts that until recently were an integral part of Kalahari Bushman culture,” Backwell says.Many of the discoveries, such as the ostrich egg and marine shell beads used as jewellery, show that even 44 000 years ago early humans had great aesthetic sense.“This shows that the first focus of aesthetic behaviour was the human body,” D’Errico explains.Backwell adds that people also used beads as part of a gift exchange system, just as modern people give and receive presents from each other.“It is similar to bartering, but this system was reciprocal and not just a business transaction,” she says.They also used notched bones for counting purposes and the stone tools discovered in the same archaeological layers show a gradual evolution in stone tool technology.“They fashioned fine bone points for use as awls (long pointed spikes) and poisoned arrowheads,” Backwell says. “One point is decorated with a spiral groove filled with red powder, comparable with similar marks made by Bushmen to identify their arrow heads when hunting.”Complicated chemical analysisUsing only a grain of material smaller than a pinhead, chemists based in Italy made extraordinary discoveries about the use of natural materials to manufacture poison and glue.A closer look at the artefacts revealed the earliest evidence for the use of poison. Chemical analysis of residues on a wooden stick decorated with incisions shows it was used to hold and carry a poison containing ricinoleic acid found in castor beans.The oldest known use of beeswax as an ingredient in glue was also discovered at the cave. Backwell says the lump of beeswax, mixed with the resin of Euphorbia (a plant with poisonous milky sap), and possibly egg, was wrapped in plant fibres made from the inner bark of a woody plant.The beeswax product was used as a binding agent to make stone tools such as arrowheads using a hafting technique, a process which involves attaching bone, metal or stone to a handle or shaft. Through this process, early humans could make tools that were more useful and stronger, such as a spear or an axe.“This is a complicated list of ingredients used to make tools with impact,” she explains.Once the arrowhead was attached using the binding agent, it was reinforced with twine or animal ligaments.The inhabitants of the cave also shaped warthog tusks into awls and possibly spear heads. “The use of small pieces of stone to arm hunting weapons is confirmed by the discovery of resin residue still adhering to some of the tools,” she says.The Italian chemists identified the resin to be suberin, a waxy substance produced from the sap of yellowwood trees, also used in the hafting process.She says the variety of ingredients indicate the ability of early human cultures to adapt to their geographical surroundings and use any available materials.More questionsBackwell says there are still many unanswered questions, such as why there appears to be a different rate of cultural development of early humans.“There are clear signs of a punctuated evolution,” she says.There are many theories as to why this happened, ranging from communities moving to another site, population growth, or even a loss of interest in a particular innovation.“Innovations came, were used and were lost again. This shows that human evolution was not entirely gradual,” she says. “There is also a possibility that entire communities could have been wiped out by illness or disease.”According to D’Errico, their research further demonstrates that Bushmen technology and lifestyle emerged abruptly, and remained relatively unchanged until recent times.“This represented an extremely successful and flexible cultural adaptation, able to cope with changing African environments,” he says.He believes their results have implications for the origins of language and the relationship between genetic and cultural heritage.Backwell anticipates that more archaeological material will be discovered at Border Cave. “At the same cave, the oldest child burial site was discovered, dated 80 000 years ago,” she says.She explains that the excavation, analysis and interpretation of the artefacts found at Border Cave demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary collaboration.She’s also consulted with Kalahari Bushmen in the Botswana and Namibia regions. “”They have shed new perspectives of what we’ve found,” she says.last_img read more

All you want to know about CWG opening ceremony

first_imgTHE GRAND OPENINGWELCOME SONGRendered by Hariharan, the song will have Indian classical dance performances by more.VIP ADDRESSESAll about the opening ceremony. Click to enlarge.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be the first to address the congregation. The British Queen’s message will be read out by Prince Charles and after that the President of India will declare the Games open.FLAG HOISTINGAmidst tunes played by military bands, the CWG flag will be brought into the stadium and hoisted. Immediately thereafter, the National Anthem will be played.MARCHPASTAll the athletes participating in the Games will then walk into the stadium. Soon after, Indian boxer Vijender Singh will bring the Queen’s Baton into the stadium and Beijing Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra will take the oath on behalf of all the athletes.LIGHT & SOUND SHOWThe show of lights and music starts with the first segment named ‘Tree of Knowledge’ which has artistes performing yoga amidst Vedic mantras and music. This will be followed by a segment depicting the real India. The arena will get filled with people from every part of the country, dancing on cycles, Ambassador cars and auto rickshaws. The aerostat will be used to reflect images of India. Colourful puppets from Rajasthan will hang out from it and dance to tunes from across India.GRAND FINALEThe high point of the opening will end with A.R. Rahman singing ‘Jiyo Utho Bado Jeeto’, the theme song of the Games.GETTING THERE1.How to reach Nehru stadium.Metro and DTC buses will give free rides to Games ticket holders2. Metro set to start the Central Secretariat-Badarpur line on Sunday. The nearest stations will be Nehru Stadium & JangpuraadvertisementPARK & WALK1. Deta School ground, Max Mueller Marg: 400 vehicles2. Sister Nivedita Sarvodaya School ground, Lodhi Colony: 500 vehicles3. Blind School ground: 220 vehicles4. DPS Mathura Road ground: 400 vehiclesPARK & RIDE1.Seating arrangementBhairon Marg: 650 vehicles2. Safdarjung airport: 2,500 vehicles3. Central School ground in Andrews Ganj: 300 vehiclesFIREWORKS20 Australian pyrotechnic riggers from the same firm which staged the fireworks at the Melbourne CWG opening ceremony, is expected to repeat their magicCHOPPERSCamera-fitted helicopters will cover the road races of the Games. Plans to have special choppers over the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the opening ceremony were scrappedTHE BIG BALLOON (AEROSTAT)–Rs 40 crore has reportedly been spent on making the 80x40x12-metre blimp–30 Metres is the height at which it will hover above the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium–20,000 cubic metres of helium has been pumped into the aerostat, which, put simply, is a giant balloonBesides providing a lighting effect – light fixtures with mirrors have been fixed on the balloon to emit a glow – spectators will also be treated to a feast of high-resolution visual clips, thanks to an attached screenThe aerostat will have a 360-projection, meaning every person in the stadium will have a clear view of the clippingsADVISORYReach venues well in advance at least 3 hours priorYOU CAN CARRYStill camerasMobile phonesNewspapersWHAT YOU CAN’TVideo camerasTiffin/eatables (except baby food)Handbags/briefcase/ladies handbags except of reasonable sizeBackpacksCigarette/bidiChewing tobacco/gutkaLaptopInflammable itemslast_img read more

Photo Advisory First, Photos released upto 4 p.m.

first_imgNew Delhi: Apr 27, 2017 (PTI) EDITORS: Photos with Captions released today. To view thumbnails of these Photographs, visit PTI website at..http.//www.ptinews.com NATIONAL New Delhi: Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in Delhi (B+A) Amritsar: Protest outside Khalsa College in Amritsar (B) Allahabad: Hot day (B+A) Allahabad/Cpimbatore/Ahmedabad/: Akshaya Tritiya Festival (B) Guwahati: Assam Guv and Union minister Ramdas Athawale in a meeting (B) New Delhi: CII Annual Session 2017 (B+A) Chandigarh: Union minister Venkaiah Naidu in Chandigarh (B) New Delhi: ASSOCHAM conference (B) Ahmedabad: Gujarat Foundation Day rehearsal (B) Bhopal: Oorja-2017 in Bhopal (B) Patna: Candle light vigil for CRPF personnel killed in Sukma Naxal attack (B) West Champaran: Champaran Satyagraha Smriti function (B) Jammu: JKNPP protest settlement of Rohingyas, Bangladeshis in Jammu (B) Jammu: Desecration of temple in Jammu (B) Panchkula: New DGP B S Sandhu takes charge (B) Agra: UP minister reviews the Taj project (B) Allahabad: Three arrested for smuggling leopard skin (B) Bengaluru/Hyderabad: ” Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” released (B+A) INTERNATIONAL Washington: President Donald Trump duringa meeting with Argentine President (B) Moscow: Special police officers arrive at the office of Open Russia in Moscow (A) Inglewood : Selena Gomez greets the audience at WE Day California (A) St. Petersburg: Rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade (B) Washington: President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on “Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection” (A) Sao Paulo: The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) event (A) Skopje: Violent protest in Skopje (A) Brasilia: Indigenous Peoples Ritual March outside the National Congress in Brasilia (A) Coral Gables: Latin Billboard Awards in Coral Gables (A) New York: File?Francis Lorenzo leaves court in New York (A) New York: A police officer wears a newly issued body camera outside the 34th precinct, (A) Manila: ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) (B) Cairo: India by the Nile cultural festival in Cairo (B) Warsaw: Hamid Ansari in Warsaw (B) SPORTS Manchester: English Premier League soccer match (A) Montevideo: Copa Libertadores soccer match (A) Agartala: 10th ONGC Agartala Marathon-2017 (B) PTI PHOTO VNA gsv GSVadvertisementlast_img read more

Can An Astrophysicist Change The Way We Watch Sports

The vast majority of our collective sports-viewing is on television. Around 21 million people watch an average Sunday Night Football game on TV, for example — some 300 times more than the 70,000 who are able to see it in person. Our sports experience is, to a first approximation, a television experience. I’ve seen Tom Brady play dozens of times, even though I’ve never seen Tom Brady play.And television has been enhancing — or, at the very least, altering — how we watch sports ever since TV was invented. NBC coverage of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the first sporting event ever televised, used slow motion footage to “show the form, the poetry of motion” of a pole vaulter.It seems a natural fit. Cameras and technology can do many things our eyes can’t. If we can see closeups of Pluto, surely we deserve a crystal-clear view of Odell Beckham Jr.’s catch. “Keep your eye on the ball” is the child’s earliest and most universal sports lesson. And nowadays we can see just about every little thing that happens to the ball. Or puck.Nearly 20 years ago, on Jan. 20, 1996, at the NHL All-Star Game, FoxTrax made its debut. FoxTrax is better known as a glowing hockey puck whizzing around the screen. Matt Ginsberg’s technology may be able to tell us mortals what the universe already knows — it may let the universe whisper in our ear. We may not have to wait for a resolution. We may, for example, have been able to hear Cinderella’s death knell just a little bit sooner. Rather than “keep your eye on the ball,” it’s now “keep your eye on where the ball will be.”Sportvision — the company behind football’s 1st & Ten, baseball’s PITCHf/x, sailing’s LiveLine and other tech — has undertaken some real-time projections of a different sort. It has tech that tells TV viewers when one car is expected to pass another in NASCAR, for example. But Hank Adams, Sportvision’s CEO, told me he wasn’t aware of any other technology like Ginsberg’s. It seemed reasonable. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he could predict, with some accuracy, whether a ball was going to go in or not,” Adams said.Adams also mused on the implications of Ginsberg’s technology. Its use as a TV storytelling tool may be limited, he said, given the mere second or two that it allows us to see into the future. He was also skeptical that the NBA would allow any in-game use by teams. It could be a valuable coaching tool, he thought. Or in training. Perhaps in a golf telecast. Maybe for players in a volleyball game. Neither of us was really sure. Watch FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder and Jody Avirgan talk about Ginsberg’s invention. The development of this tech, which looks quaint in retrospect, was a major undertaking. In 1994, an executive vice president at News Corp. promised to develop glow puck technology within two years, for $2 million, according to a 2003 article in IEEE Spectrum. He scooped up a team of 10 with military engineering experience — in radar, underwater sensors and radio-positioning systems — and sought outside help from other defense engineers. It was all hands on deck to track a hockey puck.But the system was discontinued after three years. FoxTrax’s main problem was probably aesthetics. It was distracting, and the puck’s “tail” looked better suited to a comic book than a hockey game. Hockey fans protested, the broadcast rights changed networks, and the phenomenon died.But its developers were undeterred. They turned their attention to a problem that sounds easier, but was much trickier. A couple years later — on Sept. 27, 1998 — the middling Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens met in Baltimore. At 8:20 p.m. local time, a technology called 1st & Ten debuted. It’s better known as the yellow first-down line. The yellow line isn’t official — as anyone who’s ever watched a football game on TV could tell you — but the yellow line is beloved. I had 13 good football-watching years under my belt before its introduction, but I can’t remember watching a single game without it. The yellow line is ubiquitous. The yellow line won an Emmy. The yellow line is here to stay. Truth No. 1: Most of us watch sports to see the unexpected. Truth No. 2: Plenty of us want to predict the future.Somewhere, where those two contradictory truths meet, there has been a movement afoot. For decades now, sports-crazed statheads — the sabermetricians and forecasters and moneyballers bent on winning their fantasy leagues, assembling an actual professional team or simply understanding the sports world — have been honing their techniques, trying to find the signal hiding in the noise. In baseball alone, an alphabet soup of player projection systems have been born — ZiPS, CAIRO, CHONE. We just introduced CARMELO to basketball. The movement is trying, in other words, to predict the unexpected.There are some in the movement who want to project the future, quite literally, on the screens in front of our eyes. Somewhere in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, an astrophysicist and his son are working, with the backing of an outspoken billionaire, to bring us just such a glimpse. Armed only with a camera, a laptop and their custom code, they’re working on a system that calls a 3-pointer a swish or a brick, a volleyball serve in or out, a soccer shot over the bar or in the goal, all before the ball completes its flight. If the system works — and that’s a big “if” — it would be equivalent to a minor superpower: flash precognition. The sports fan would become, if only for a second or two, a superhero.And the system is almost done. This, right here, could be the future of sports: Matt Ginsberg is tall and fit with sharp features and, aside from his closely cut grey hair, resembles a 40-year-old rock climber more closely than the 60-year-old technologist and businessman that he is. He’s affable but deeply serious. I first met him in Stamford, Connecticut, in March, at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, where he was operating Dr. Fill, his artificial intelligence crossword puzzle solver. In the crossword community, he’s both loved and hated — he’s the guy who might be a little too clever for his own good who’s trying to ruin all the fun with his fancy computer program.His would-be revolution in sports technology grew out of his role as unofficial statistical analyst for the University of Oregon’s women’s volleyball team. He has, among other things, imported basketball’s adjusted plus-minus system to volleyball, and convinced the team’s coach that the way timeouts were traditionally used was inefficient. Last November, while Ginsberg was watching a game, a player hit a serve that, from Ginsberg’s bleacher seat, looked like it was sure to go out. The returning players should’ve simply let the ball go out but they didn’t. Ginsberg was annoyed. “I can fix this. We can have a computer help,” he told me. “I did not realize how hard it would be.”While the development of FoxTrax and 1st & Ten resembled military contracts, Matt Ginsberg’s purported crystal ball was developed in a son-and-pop shop in Eugene, Oregon. Navarre Ginsberg is a 21-year-old programmer and Matt Ginsberg’s son. When I reached Navarre Ginsberg by phone in early October, his dad told me not to take up too much of his time — he had to get the camera working. It was the younger Ginsberg who first suggested to his dad that this technology could be taken far beyond just volleyball. Matt is in charge of the big picture; Navarre is responsible for handling coding issues as they arise, and making sure the damn thing works.The result looks like this. Here’s a Rajon Rondo shot that misses right — as correctly called by the computer: Technologies like these told us more about what we were looking at by putting a visual layer between us and a game on our TV. FoxTrax told us where the puck was at all times. 1st & Ten tells us where a team is trying to go. But they were just building blocks. Data was the next frontier.A torrent of new innovations followed in their wake. The NFL and Zebra Technologies have strapped radio-frequency identification chips onto players this season. The camera-tracking system SportVU has been hailed as the future of the NBA by our friends at Grantland. ProTracer technology has given golf fans something to stare at other than the warm plasma-screen glow of the summer sky. Hawk-Eye technology in tennis powers replay challenges and can track a ball to within mere millimeters. LiveLine, another Emmy winner, does its best to make sailing interesting to watch. And one word — in press releases, company websites and media coverage of these technologies — appears over and over again: “revolutionary.” Layering data on top of a sports broadcast is the frontier.But, as with most revolutions, there is a staunch establishment that leans against the shifting winds. In April, Vice published a philippic against K-Zone, the imaginary strike zone projected on the screen during baseball games. “The calculus at the root of this experiment seems to be that we prefer perfect information to beauty, precision to custom,” Robert O’Connell wrote. And some even rebel against television itself. Each season, the supremacy of radio-baseball to TV-baseball is vocally declaimed by acolytes. “Listening to a game on the radio, while driving along through the night hits some sort of cosmic level of perfection, especially if you can find it on an AM station, with a slight whine from some other signal, scratchy static calling the game in from across time and space,” Todd VanDerWerff, Vox’s culture editor, wrote in his newsletter earlier this month. “The fall of baseball could certainly be tied to the slow decline of radio as well,” he added.The natural-human-beauty-vs.-cold-mechanical-statistics sports debate has been thoroughly litigated, including on FiveThirtyEight. The jury is hopelessly hung. Do you want a dressed-up broadcast? Do you want a television screen augmented with pitch counts and wind speeds and strike zones and Bryce Harper’s velocity running to first? Or do you simply want to tune your dial to AM 720 for the crack of the bat and the passionate, pained voice of Ron Santo, may he rest in peace?I’d guess the split is largely generational. As the aesthetics of real televised sports approach those of sports video games, with their elaborate heads-up displays and options, the younger set may feel more at ease. But there’s more than just aesthetics that sports share with video games. The outcomes of events in both are pre-known, if you know where to look. When you kick a field goal in Madden 16, for example, the path of the ball is already written. Sure, you’ll see the ball fly through the air for a few seconds, and perhaps drift slowly toward the right upright, causing you to clench. But the game and your Xbox already “know” if it’s good or wide right — the kick’s power and distance, the wind, etc. have already been thrown into whatever algorithm and the result already spat out. The anticipation is just an illusion. But isn’t that the same in real life? When Butler’s Gordon Hayward launched the shot that would’ve beaten Duke in the 2010 NCAA final, it hangs in the air for-seemingly-ever — in fact it’s just shy of two seconds — and we don’t know whether it will go in or out. (See Truth No. 1, above.) But the universe “knows.” Physics “knows.” Again, the idea is simple. Almost comically so, judging by illustrations in the patent application.The execution, on the other hand, is not simple. Matt Ginsberg’s training is in astrophysics. He got his Ph.D. from Oxford when he was 24 years old. His doctoral advisor there was the famed mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, and he recalls rubbing elbows with the academic rock stars Stephen Hawking and the late Richard Feynman. He created an artificial intelligence crossword puzzle solver called Dr. Fill and a computer bridge world champion called GIB.Unsurprisingly, there’s pretty heavy math involved to make this real-time sports predictor work. For one element of the system’s calculations, Ginsberg sent me a pdf with eight dense pages of physics diagrams and systems of equations and notes on derivations. It uses something called the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm. It requires Jacobians and the taking of partial derivatives and the solving of quartics, and code efficient enough to calculate it all up to the split second. If predicting the future were easy, I suppose everybody would do it. (See Truth No. 2, above.)One thing this project can’t predict, however, is its own future. Its uses are, so far, largely speculative, and cashing in on a minor superpower might not be easy. Even gamblers who bet during play would struggle to make much money from a half-second heads-up that a shot is going in. But Ginsberg’s system would find a natural place in the long line of sports technologies that have been used for a singular end — TV. The footage is from a Dallas Mavericks game against the San Antonio Spurs in March. What you see was calculated in real time, but for demonstration purposes the shot itself is slowed down. A computer tracked the ball’s position as well as its projected position, and the three red bars underneath the action indicate the system’s confidence that the ball would miss left, go in, or miss right, respectively. In this clip, it was a Monta Ellis jumper that went in, just as the tech predicted.“Many decisions in sports relate to the trajectory of a ball or similar object, such as a puck or shuttlecock,” reads the patent application for this technology filed in late August. There are three names on the patent application: Matthew L. Ginsberg, Navarre S. Ginsberg and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The Ginsbergs have ambitions to spread their technology far and high, including to the NBA and its billionaire owners, including Cuban.When Matt Ginsberg first mentioned this project to me, back in March, he began the conversation like this: “I’m going to revolutionize sports.”His idea is simple: Find a ball with a camera and have it tell a computer what’s up with the ball (or shuttlecock or javelin or frisbee or whatever). Then have the computer calculate, in real time, where the ball’s going. Then turn that into some useful piece of information, knowing what sport we’re watching and the dimensions of that sport’s infrastructure — lines on the ground, baskets in the air, and so on. Have the computer tell you, maybe along with some measurement of its certainty, “that basketball will go in the basket” or “that volleyball will land outside the lines.”Then do something interesting with that fact. Have a red light go off to signal an out-of-bounds serve to the returning team. Have a soccer goalie’s smartwatch buzz if a shot is going to clear the bar, telling her she needn’t parry it and concede a corner kick. Put it on the TV screen for the folks at home. The Ginsbergs are aware of their system’s imperfections, but they share an enthusiasm for what it can become. And they want to get it out into the world, perhaps as soon as this NBA season.“If we haven’t figured out why that’s valuable to a sport yet, we just haven’t thought hard enough yet,” Navarre Ginsberg said.Looking for investors, and an eventual outlet for his project, Matt Ginsberg approached Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Mavericks, in January. The idea had applications beyond volleyball, Ginsberg had realized. Cuban was hesitant, Ginsberg said, until Ginsberg proposed a deal: Give me $50,000, he said, and I’ll develop it, and the Mavericks can use it in one game.“$50,000 to win an NBA game of your choice is incredibly cheap,” Ginsberg recalled telling Cuban. “And you don’t care about the 50 grand but I do. And I’ll also give you a right of first refusal across the NBA.” Cuban wanted two years, and Ginsberg could keep the right of first refusal. Ginsberg agreed. A lawyer came in to iron out the finer points of the deal. The lawyer was suspicious. What the hell were the Mavs even buying? It could be unicorns.Cuban described his involvement in the project to me as “active” — providing tech and design recommendations. But Ginsberg is the brains behind the coding, he said in an email last week. The most promising use of the project, in Cuban’s view? “Real-time predictions on court that can be relayed to the sidelines.” He wouldn’t comment on how the Mavericks intend to use it, if at all.When I asked Cuban how he thought the NBA would respond, he deflected a bit: “It will have amazing real-time applications in the future — things like detecting whether or not a shot was goaltended, in real time, and relaying that information to officials or displaying it on the backboard.”“If we can make basketball more fun to watch on TV, how much is that worth? I am completely clueless.”Ginsberg’s views on the technology’s uses have been evolving dramatically since we first talked in March, but they’ve always been broad. Some uses seem doable; some no doubt pie-in-the-sky. Goaltending, as Cuban suggested, is one humble but useful application. The technology could ensure that goaltending is always called correctly — it analyzes a ball’s arc, so finding the apex of a given ball’s trajectory to check for goaltending would be easy pickings. Another use is volleyball serves. A system like this is legal in NCAA volleyball — or at least it’s not illegal. Yet. (The Ginsbergs are unabashed Oregon Duck homers. “I’m excited about helping my team,” the elder said.) Another is for soccer goalies. The tech could prevent them from ceding unnecessary corner kicks. Another is tennis. Tennis players could train with the technology, and learn in real time what types of passing shots they should let go at the net and which they should go all out to try to volley.But the killer app, in many of our conversations, has been basketball tactics. Imagine, Ginsberg would describe, if the home team’s players knew when their opponents’ shots were going to go in. They’d be signaled — a flashing light, maybe — and most of them could immediately race down to their offensive end, knowing they needn’t play any more defense on that play. A huge advantage; a sea change in basketball strategy.Now, whether that’s practical or would be allowed by the NBA seems questionable, at best. And Ginsberg has backed off this idea somewhat. At the very least, he doesn’t want this tactic available to just one team.“I don’t want to have every basketball fan who doesn’t live in Dallas hating me,” he said. “That would not make my life better.”So what about TV?“There are going to be media applications that I can’t predict, because I’m not a media guy,” he said. “The other thing that’s really become apparent to me, as we’ve gotten closer here, is that I don’t know what I’m doing. In the sense that there’s huge economic value to this. If we can make basketball more fun to watch on TV, how much is that worth to NBC? And I am completely clueless” — so clueless he didn’t realize the NBA hasn’t aired on NBC since 2002. But the system’s not perfect — not yet. It occasionally doesn’t even recognize a shot is happening, or it thinks a pass is a shot, or it simply makes the wrong call after identifying a shot. Here, it thinks a long pass is a long shot: This technology’s future may become a lot clearer very soon. Ginsberg has been taking meetings over the phone. This month, he talked with an NBA executive vice president to discuss what impact this technology should have on the game. And he talked with Marc Lasry, the billionaire hedge-fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, who Ginsberg thinks can help advise him on the economics.But here’s the thing about predicting the future: You’d better be right. In the 13-minute video Ginsberg sent me, the computer was right on 23 of its 30 calls — about ​​77 percent accuracy. It also didn’t recognize a shot, or thought a pass was a shot, on 10 occasions. Even just miscalling a few shots in a game could doom a project like this. If this tech is ever integral to the game — for a broadcaster or a pro team — it’ll be a fine line between the computer as Oracle of Delphi and the computer as useless hunk of junk.The Ginsbergs know this, and have been so busy hammering away at the last pesky nails sticking out of their project that they haven’t even named the thing yet. The patent application calls it Real-Time Sports Advisory System Using Ball Trajectory Prediction — and RTSASUBTP doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. My suggestion: The tRuth. The technological Babe Ruth. He called his shot, after all. read more

Ohio State womens lacrosse off to undefeated 50 start

Five games into the 2012 campaign, the undefeated Ohio State women’s lacrosse team continues to dominate every team in their path with their best start in 10 years. Led by second-year coach Alexis Venechanos, the No. 12-ranked Buckeyes have outscored their opponents, 86-26, and allowed less than 15 shots per match. Brown University was OSU’s latest victim Saturday. OSU won, 16-3, in Ohio Stadium on the heels of a 21-7 win against Louisville on Feb. 19. “I am pleased with how we turned it around and put the tempo in our favor,” Venechanos said in a press release Saturday. “Brown is a good team and the game was closer than the score shows. They definitely made it difficult for us to get our game going at the beginning.” On the defensive end, the Buckeyes forced 15 of Brown’s 18 turnovers, which helped the Buckeyes score 12 unanswered goals at one point in the match. Senior attacker and co-captain Alayna Markwordt became the leading scorer in school history, edging the previous mark by four points, in the game against the Cardinals. Markwordt stands at 252 career points which date back to the fourth game of her freshman season on March 1, 2009. “As a team, we were really just focused on coming out and winning, and breaking the record was just part of that,” Markwordt said in a Feb. 19 press release. “I’m very grateful to have been able to play here for four years and remain healthy to get to this point.” The Buckeye offense is averaging 17.2 points per game, second in the American Lacrosse Conference only to Johns Hopkins’ 19. A newly installed “man-advantage” rule, where teams play without a player in each attacking zone for two minutes after a yellow card penalty, has not slowed down the Buckeyes. OSU was called for yellow cards three times in the Robert Morris game and twice against No. 6-ranked Stanford. No points were given up during those two-minute impediments. Co-captain and senior midfielder, Gabby Capuzzi, was honored as the ALC Offensive Player of the Week after the opening weekend of play. Capuzzi tallied six points in the 14-10 upset against Stanford. She leads the team with 15 ground balls and caused 14 turnovers. In OSU’s season opener against San Diego State Feb. 11, senior midfielder and co-captain Kirsten Donahue added four goals to her 15 on the season . Freshmen goalies, Caitlin Hester and Tori DeScenza, had a combined six saves in their first match of their collegiate career. The Buckeyes take on Notre Dame (2-0)  at home next at 1 p.m. Sunday. read more

For Ohio State mens lacrosse FOGO role an area of expertise

Football has the kicker, baseball the relief pitcher and soccer the defensive midfielder. They are specialty players who have a focus, a certain set of skills that set them apart from the rest. They aren’t always the flashiest players, but what they bring to the team, if only for a play or two, can be the difference between a win and a loss. For lacrosse, that position is known as the faceoff get-off, or more colloquially, the FOGO. What is a FOGO? “Basically the game of facing off is a player for a team comes out to the middle of the field (the X) and is trying to gain possession of the ball for his team,” said Trey Wilkes, senior midfielder and primary FOGO for the Buckeyes. “In theory, if a faceoff guy can go out and win the ball for his team every time, it’s kind of like ‘make it, take it’ in basketball.” Assistant coach Jamison Koesterer was a faceoff player when he was at Johns Hopkins and said he sees the position continue to develop into a specialty area. “It’s kind of transformed into an area of expertise. Guys have really started to focus and buckle down and create a specialty position if you will. I think you’re starting to see more and more guys become comfortable not just being faceoff get-off, but stay and play a little offense,” Koesterer said. “Obviously if you have a dynamic player that can face off with a good stick, that’s a solid athlete that can play defense, it allows you to do more from a coaching perspective.” Koesterer said in lacrosse, the more opportunities there are for a team to be on offense, the more likely it is to earn the victory. “Having possession of the ball in a game like lacrosse where the ball is moving up and down the field is extremely important,” Wilkes said. “There is a lot of technique, there’s a finesse side to facing off, but there’s also a physical side, and it’s just having a balance of that aggression and balance at the same time.” Since the players aren’t a regular part of the offensive or defensive rotations, a FOGO has to prepare differently than others on the team, Wilkes said. “I try to focus more on myself individually and try not to worry as much about my opponent. I feel like throughout the week if I can work on the things that I do really well, I can kind of leave the game in my hands,” Wilkes said. Another FOGO for the Buckeyes, junior defender Darius Bowling, doesn’t fit the bill of the typical faceoff player. Though Bowling still takes his turn attempting to win his team the ball, he also plays on the defensive side of the ball as a long stick. But his defensive focus shows facing off at the X doesn’t mean a player can’t also be a standout in other positions. “For me it’s just kind of making it a scrum (ground ball). I would think that I’m pretty good at ground balls, so if I could make it a scrum, I would have a pretty good chance at getting it,” Bowling said. “So during the week I try to make sure that I’m in a good stance. That’s the most important thing for me is my stance.” Unlike their counterparts, such as attackers who score handfuls of goals or goalies who rack up saves, FOGOs fly under the radar. Their names are rarely in game recaps, despite their vital contributions to their team’s success. “They don’t get a lot of accolades. When you find them in the postgame report, it’s usually when they’re 70 percent or better, when they’re really dominating,” Koesterer said. “But when we come across a great faceoff player and we neutralize him, make it a 50-50 battle, even though we don’t get the headlines, it’s a win in our book.” Though they might not be household names or team MVPs, there is no doubting what a FOGO means to his lacrosse team. read more

Consultant presents Natl Skills Audit to TCI Cabinet

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#TurksandCaicos, September 1, 2017 – Providenciales – The National Skills Audit is completed and Cabinet approved its publication in the next Gazette.    Justine Pierre of Dunn, Pierre, Barnett and Associates, which was contracted for the work made the presentation of the completed study and survey.This report was commissioned under the Rufus Ewing led administration to expose, scientifically, the true skill needs in the country.   The audit results were pegged to direct policy in a number of areas, most notable during the launch in May 2016, the then Minister of Education had said the Audit would reveal if the Turks and Caicos truly needed a stand-alone trade school.last_img read more