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Indiana University Bloomington

Colloquium Series

           

Fall 2017 Colloquium Series

October 5, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

WY005
TBA

Dr. Don Howard
University of Notre Dame

"TBA"

Abstract:
TBA

October 12, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

WY005
TBA

Steven Druker
Author of: Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

"How the Health Risks of GMOs Have Been Systematically Misrepresented: An Assessment from the Perspectives of Both Biological Science and Computer Science"

Abstract:
Contrary to the claims of the technology’s proponents, producing new foods through genetic engineering entails higher risks to human health than does traditional breeding; and the arguments that have been advanced to convince the public otherwise rely on multiple misrepresentations. Even reports by the US National Academy of Sciences and the UK’s Royal Society cannot withstand scrutiny, and analysis reveals that their central assertions are demonstrably false. The routine claim that all respected scientists and scientific organizations regard GE foods to be as safe as conventional ones is likewise false. For instance, the Royal Society of Canada, the British Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, and the editors of The Lancet (a premier medical journal) have all expressed concerns about the risks. Further, although a substantial number of well-conducted studies published in peer-reviewed journals have detected statistically significant harm to the laboratory animals that consumed GE food, the proponents of these products have unjustly attacked — and deceptively described — this research. Indeed, the well-documented (and irrefutable) fact that the evidence has been systematically misrepresented attests to how strongly it raises legitimate concerns, because if it were truly supportive of safety, there would have been no need to distort it. The degree of risk is even more striking when bioengineering is examined from the perspective of computer science. While computer scientists have gained substantial knowledge about the inescapable risks of altering complex information systems, and established rigorous precautionary measures for managing those risks, the biotechnicians have routinely disregarded this knowledge and violated the related precautionary principles — despite the fact the bioinformation systems they reconfigure are far bigger, far more complex, and far less understood. Indeed, compared to the meticulous manner in which software engineers revise life-critical information systems that they themselves have created, the radical way in which biotechnicians have been altering complex cellular information systems stands out as not merely risky, but reckless. Moreover, when examined through the lens of computer science, even advanced gene-editing techniques (such as CRISPR-Cas9) still entail abnormal risks when employed in food production. Despite its importance, a thorough examination of bioengineering from the standpoint of software engineering did not appear until the publication of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth. The soundness and the significance of this analysis have been recognized by many experts. For instance, Thomas J. McCabe, developer of the widely-employed cyclomatic complexity software metric, has called it “especially insightful” and remarked that it exposes how genetic engineering “is more like a ‘hackathon’ than a careful, systematic methodology for revising complex information systems.”

October 19, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

GISB 1128
Sponsered by: Islamic Studies Program and HPSC

Dr. Melvin Koushki
Universtiy of South Carolina

"Texts and Manuscripts of the Muslim World Seminar: Occult Science in the Early Modern Persianate World"

Abstract:
Occult science was a primary mode of philosophical and imperial practice throughout the early modern Persianate world—a basic structural feature largely elided in the literature to date. As corrective, this seminar will introduce and contextualize a representative example taken from Safavid Iran: the Choicest Talismans (Zubdat al-alvāḥ) of Maḥmūd Dihdār Shīrāzī (fl. 1576), the most prolific Persian author on lettrism (ʿilm al-ḥurūf)—Hebrew kabbalah’s coeval Arabic twin—of the 16th century and aspiring Safavid imperial ideologue. Dihdār’s manual of letter magic and letter divination most notably features a letter-magical operation based on the Fourteen Infallibles of Twelver Shiʿism, which he asserts to be wholly unprecedented in the Islamic occult-scientific tradition. This suggests lettrism to be a primary methodology by which the epochal shiʿization of Iran was effectively, scientifically accomplished, yet emblematic of the paradoxically perennialist-progressivist ethos now termed early modern.

November 9, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

WY005

Dr. Ann-Sophie Barwich
Philosophy and Biological Sciences-Columbia Universtiy

"Olfaction as a Model for Neuroscience: How Your Brain Is Making Scents – And Why It Matters."

Abstract:
The human sense of smell has a remarkably bad reputation. Popular onion holds that we are bad at identifying and naming scents; that our olfactory system is in evolutionary decline; and that our olfactory sensations lack cognitive sophistication. Over the past two decades, however, scientific insight has proven many of these predominantly pejorative beliefs about human smell perception wrong. It turns out that our olfactory system is much more elaborate than previously thought, both in its physiological and cognitive functions. Indeed, odor has always played a central role in human culture. Yet we are taught notably little about our oldest sense. In this talk, I analyze recent advances in the scientific and philosophical understanding of the human sense of smell. Fundamentally, I will ask the question: How would our knowledge of the senses and modeling strategies in neuroscience be different if we were looking at smell?

November 30, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

WY005
TBA

Dr. Armin Moczek
Indiana University-Biology Department

"From the studies of horned beetles to the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis"

Abstract:
TBA