What is a consultant?

first_img Comments are closed. What is a consultant?On 22 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today Consulting is not a ‘profession’ and never will be. Its success is theultimate symbol of the flexible, free agent labour market, writes StephenOverellIt wasn’t a bribe, it was a consultancy fee. So said Colin Skellet, thechairman and chief executive of Wessex Water as he began helping police withtheir inquiries into allegations of corruption surrounding a £919,000 payment. Skellet argued that it was an upfront fee for five years’ worth ofconsultancy, after a Malaysian conglomerate bought his company for £1.2bn. Was this normal, it was asked? No, came the answer from assortedwell-groomed people waving time sheets, eager to reassure observers that ‘theprofession’ of management consul- tancy had medical standards of (self-)governance. But what is normal, exactly? Consultancy has always been a gloriouslyfragmented business – a label that provides a home to sole traders, occasionaldabblers and out-and-out witchdoctors, just as much as it does to the bigbehemoths and strategy boutiques. But should the case ever reach court, it willpresumably turn on a venerable philosophical conundrum that no-one has evercome close to resolving: what is a consultant? The business of definition is, as a consultant might say, like trying tonail jelly to the ceiling. The rules of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) require membercompanies to have been in business for at least three years before they can beadmitted. Yet many people flit in and out of consultancy. That is why you neversee estimates of how many there are, only how much is spent on them (£7bn inthe UK1; $62bn worldwide2). What’s in a name? Attempts to create a stable profession such as law or medicine through‘apprenticeship’ systems seem hopelessly fanciful. “The term has become very confused,” concedes Bruce Petter,executive director of the MCA. “Everyone is a consultant these days.”In the US, one closely watched ranking of consultancies, run by ConsultantsNews, defines consultants as “independent advisers”. That may workfor the big multi-million dollar consultancies, but there is little independentresearch about consulting work done by individuals. Fruitful descriptions of what consultants actually do usually involveanalogy. “In the best cases, consultants fill the role of the medievaljester,” says Professor David Norburn, professor of management at ImperialCollege, London. “They try to get leaders to reconsider the position theyare in, but in a non-threatening way. Companies could probably do an awful lotof this for themselves if they chose to and save themselves the ludicrousbills. But the problem is they don’t grow independent-minded people –risk-takers, mavericks or sideways thinkers.” If that sounds too saucy a portrait of the average consultant, DavidFrancis, deputy head of the Centre for Research in Innovation Management at theUniversity of Brighton, believes: “Consultants are like bees – they gofrom one organisation to another, sowing ideas. Provided they behave ethically,they can be a major force for innovation.” Call in the middleman The inherent mystery of the craft and the useful meaninglessness of the termis the reason for consultancy’s dazzling success. Old-fashioned jobs involved descriptive labels, such as baker or stevedore.Modern ones, ‘chief talent officer’, ‘consultant’, are deliberately nebulous. All kinds of things organisations once did for themselves now requiremiddlemen, downsized victims of the cult of corporate leanness. And throughorganisations being lean, ‘consultancy’ has become baggy: a word that is asflexible as its troops. Which may be why it does not seem to follow the samerules as other businesses. The members of the MCA posted 17 per cent growth in a ‘difficult’ year forthe profession. Around the world, the Kennedy Information Research Group saysconsultancy continues to grow by between 10 and 30 per cent a year, dependingon the country. Identity crisis At the heart of the identity crisis lies the fact that consultancy has neverreally been an independent trade in its own right. Traditionally, it was aspin-off from the large accounting firms. In 1953, Arthur Andersen helpedGeneral Electric install the world’s first business computer, handling payrollfor a factory in Louisville, Kentucky. As a result, more large companies soughtadvice on new systems – technology was and is the consultant’s handmaiden – andthey turned to their accountants. Today, IBM is thought by some way to be the biggest name in consulting,following its acquisition of PwC Consulting in late July for $3.5bn (£2.25bn).For many years the growing presence of IBM in the business services andconsulting market was obscured, because it didn’t figure in the rankings. Itshardware and software divisions were not deemed sufficiently independent of itsconsultancy offerings, an objection that has now faded. But still the basicproblem: the biggest consultancy in the world – generator of 41 per cent of IBMGlobal Service’s $85.9bn (£55bn) revenues – effectively piggybacks on the nameof a firm known primarily for something else. Scandal is a marvellous motivator, however, and the Enron affair may finallyentrench that elusive independence. Central to Enron was that Andersen consultants earned more from the relationshipthan Andersen auditors, who failed to spot unconventional accounting – afulfilment of the anxieties of regulators, who, ever since the 1980s, hadfretted over such conflicts of interest. Now, consultants cannot divorcequickly enough from their former bedfellows. KPMG is the most recent,re-branded as BearingPoint. So, what is a consultant? The only way out is something bland like ‘a personwho transfers information’. But that doesn’t capture the whole clever, shadowy,complicated, schmoozing, money-spinning alchemy of consultancy. 1 www.mca.org.uk2 Kennedy Information Research Group Top five global consultancies   1. IBM Business Innovation Services  2. Accenture   3. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young  4. PricewaterhouseCoopers  5. Deloitte Consulting/Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu  Source: Consultants News Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Watch The HillBenders Perform A Bluegrass Version Of “Pinball Wizard” To Kick Off Roots Revival

first_imgThe inaugural Suwannee Roots Revival Festival got off to a wild start in Live Oak, FL last night, as Missouri’s favorite bluegrass sons The Hillbenders performed their epic rendition of The Who’s classic rock opera Tommy. With a packed crowd of early arrivals ready to blow off steam, the reception in crowd was as raucous as the antics of the band onstage. Our own Rex Thomson is on the scene and captured the rip-roaring rendition of the tune for us all to enjoy!Check out the fun below:Suwannee Roots Revival continues throughout the weekend! Keep it tuned to L4LM for exclusive videos and more.last_img read more

5 ways to conquer your fear of public speaking

first_img 113SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Pettit John Pettit is the Managing Editor for CUInsight.com. John manages the content on the site, including current news, editorial, press releases, jobs and events. He keeps the credit union … Web: www.cuinsight.com Details Whether or not 10,000 hours of public speaking would actually make you an expert, It definitely wouldn’t hurt. Chances are, you’re never going to get that kind of experience. That’s okay. Most of us will never get that much experience doing anything. If public speaking makes you anxious, here a few ways you can overcome your fears and be a better speaker.Practice, practice, practice: With just about any skill, practice makes perfect. Practice alone may not be the cure-all for public speaking anxiety, but it’s definitely something you need to take seriously. You should always practice your speech over and over until you flow from one talking point to the next as easily as putting one foot in front of the other to walk down the street. If you’re using slides, know them like the back of your hand. Be able to anticipate transitions and eliminate any surprises.Breathe: Everyone knows breathing has a calming effect. If you’re nervous about speaking, this is exactly what you need. Take a few deep breaths, do some light stretching, or even go for a short stroll to get your blood flowing.Don’t go off book: If you’ve practiced well, then your material is ready. Adding or changing anything on the spot could make you flustered and confused. Once your train of thought has left the station, it may be hard to catch.Be organized: If you’re using note cards, double check before you step up to speak and make sure you’ve put your notes in order. Just in case, put small numbers in the bottom corners so you can easily find your place without looking confused and lost.Pause: When it’s go time, you’ll be prepared. If you feel any anxiety creeping up on you, throw in some pauses. Pausing will help you regain your composure and may even improve your speech. Pauses can help you with the pace of your delivery, help convey emotion, and can even help your audience better understand the message you’re conveying.last_img read more

Update on the latest sports

first_imgVIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTSBristol is NASCAR’s next stopUNDATED (AP) — NASCAR’S next stop is Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, where the Cup Series races Sunday for the fifth time in 14 days. NASCAR is trying to make up eight points races postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.The field was set by a random draw and Brad Keselowski has the pole. He’ll be starting first for the second time in five races. Joey Logano will start second and Ryan Blaney third.In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic: NFL-LITTLE-CANCERPro Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little fighting cancerSYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Pro Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little, who starred in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, has been diagnosed with cancer, according to a former Syracuse Orange teammate who has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for treatment costs.Pat Killorin, a center for Syracuse in the mid-1960s, created the Friends of Floyd page last Sunday to help raise money for costs associated with curing what he calls “a treatable but aggressive form of cancer.” Little is 77.The three-time All-American at Syracuse from 1964-66 was selected sixth overall in the 1967 combined AFL-NFL draft by the Broncos. He spent his entire nine-year career with the franchise and rushed for 6,323 yards and 43 touchdowns. In 1971 he led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,133 and yards from scrimmage with 1,388. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. — Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley meets rising contender Gilbert Burns Saturday night in the main event of the UFC’s return to its hometown. There won’t be any fans in attendance at the UFC Apex arena on its expansive corporate complex in Las Vegas. It’s the first of several shows to be held at the mostly empty gym.— Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern Munich took a confident step closer to an eighth straight German title with a 5-0 demolition of Fortuna Düsseldorf in an empty stadium. With five matches remaining Bayern has a 10-point lead over Borussia Dortmund, which has played a game less. Bayern has won 14 of its last 15 league games as it cruises toward the title. Schalke and U.S. national team midfielder Weston McKennie played wearing an armband referencing the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. McKennie had the handwritten message “Justice for George” on white tape around his left arm as Schalke played Werder Bremen.— The Ukrainian Premier League restarted Saturday but one game was called off when an unspecified number of soccer players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. The league said players and staff from last-placed Karpaty Lviv had tested positive ahead of tomorrow’s match against Mariupol. The league is playing its first games since March 15, with Kolos and Desna kicking off the opening match. There are nine rounds left. The league is due to finish July 19 with a European qualification playoff following 10 days later.— The Spanish league says full team training sessions will resume Monday, ahead of the first match to be played following the coronavirus stoppage. La Liga said the government gave authorization on Saturday for squads to practice together. Until now, players had been limited to individual training before progressing to small groups. The league, which has been on hold since March 12, will restart on June 11 when Sevilla faces Real Betis without fans. The 11 rounds remaining are due to be played until July 19, according to the government. Barcelona leads Real Madrid by two points at the top of the table.— The English Premier League was given government approval on Saturday to press ahead with its June 17 restart, although players will have to stay apart during goal celebrations and disputes to maintain social distancing. Further details of the league’s plans for dealing with coronavirus cases have been disclosed with clubs likely to have to play even if they only have 15 fit squad members. The league says there have been no positive results in its latest round of COVID-19 testing. May 30, 2020 Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNFL-OBIT-ROOSEVELT TAYLORRoosevelt Taylor, 82, safety on Bears’ 1963 title team, diesUNDATED (AP) — Roosevelt Taylor, a star safety on the Chicago Bears’ 1963 NFL championship team, has died. He was 82. — Sporting events will be allowed to resume in England without spectators starting Monday, as long as they comply with the government’s coronavirus protocols. The new guidance for elite sports bodies paves the way for the planned June 17 return of the Premier League, the world’s richest soccer competition. The guidance includes a request that social distancing must be maintained in matches “during any disputes between players and referees or scoring celebrations.” Horse racing and snooker have already lined up events for Monday in anticipation of the end of an 11-week shutdown of sports.— France’s former sports minister says the government was too hasty in calling off soccer leagues this season. The French leagues were canceled after Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said in late April they could not resume because of the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick Kanner, sports minister from 2014-17, thinks the leagues were pressured into canceling. In a French radio interview Saturday, Kanner said “they were not given any choice” and that “maybe we could have resumed playing in June.” France is the only one of Europe’s five major soccer leagues to cancel its season.— The South African government says it’s maintaining a ban on all contact sports because of the coronavirus, meaning the country’s professional rugby teams and its world champion Springboks will remain out of action. The sports minister’s announcement Saturday came as South Africa prepares to further ease lockdown on Monday and open up most of its economy as part of a phased relaxation of restrictions. Professional non-contact sports competitions will be allowed in some regions. Rugby teams can resume training if protocols are in place, including mandatory screening. All teams have 14 days to submit detailed plans on their protocols for approval before they can train.— The Austrian Health Ministry has approved safety conditions for Austria to host two Formula One Grand Prix races in July. The first 10 races of the season have either been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but F1 could finally return with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on July 5 and 12. The double-header would have no spectators and only a limited number of people involved.— Four-year colleges facing budget shortfalls because of the coronavirus outbreak have eliminated nearly 100 sports programs. Critics say some of those sports might have survived if decision-makers had considered the benefits those sports brought to the schools as a whole. Former University of Idaho president Chuck Staben argues athletes in sports that award partial scholarships often pay more than the value of their scholarships for tuition. He says that’s especially important at a time when enrollment declines are accelerating because of the pandemic. The team said he died Friday but did not provide details.An All-Pro in 1963 when the Bears won the title, Taylor played his first nine NFL seasons with Chicago, 1961-69, appearing in every game. A ballhawk, he led the league in interceptions in 1963 with nine, also making the Pro Bowl.Chicago was 11-1-2 in that championship season, winning all eight games in which Taylor made an interception.He also made the Pro Bowl in 1968. The next year, he was dealt to San Francisco for guard Howard Mudd and spent 2 1/2 seasons with the 49ers, then was Washington’s free safety in 1972. The Redskins lost to Miami in the Super Bowl that season, with the Dolphins finishing off their perfect record.In all, Taylor had 32 interceptions, 23 with the Bears. He ran back three for touchdowns and also scored on a fumble return. — Major League Baseball wants to ban mascots if the sport resumes this season. But mascot guru Dave Raymond thinks that’s a bad idea. He says “every mascot should be essential because of its ability to connect and distract with fun.” Raymond was the first Phillie Phanatic and has since become a mascot consultant. He has helped create, brand and train the next generation of hundreds of stadium characters. Mascots were lumped in with other baseball traditions that would be weeded out under a 2020 proposal. The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps and bat boys and girls.— The Pawtucket Red Sox have found something to do with McCoy Stadium while the minor league baseball season is on hold. Starting next weekend, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox will be serving ballpark fare on picnic tables that are spread out across the infield dirt. To follow Rhode Island state guidelines on dining, “Dining on the Diamond” is limited to 20 tables, with two seatings per night. The first four seatings sold out in 88 minutes.,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 COLLEGE BASKETBALL-FLORIDA-NEMBHARDFlorida’s Nembhard withdraws from NBA draft, transfersGAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida point guard Andrew Nembhard is removing his name from the NBA draft and returning to school — just not in Gainesville. A team spokesman said Saturday that Nembhard plans to transfer and will have two years of college eligibility remaining. Stadium first reported Nembhard’s intentions.Nembhard entered the NBA draft last month. He hired NCAA-certified agent Jaafar Choufani so he could retain his college eligibility. He took a similar approach after his freshman year and eventually returned to Florida after not getting invited to the NBA scouting combine.As a sophomore, he averaged 11.2 points, 5.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds. With 173 assists and 80 turnovers in 2019-20, his assist-to-turnover ratio ranked 49th in the country. Associated Press Update on the latest sportslast_img read more

Clubs back drive to get more women beginners playing golf

first_img Over 50 golf clubs in eight counties are backing England Golf’s drive to get more women beginners playing – helped by laughter, fizz and a novel twist to scoring.Clubs in Devon, Hampshire, Northumberland, Suffolk and Worcestershire are joining the confidence-building campaign this season. They’ll be offering a series of fun playing days for new golfers, starting in this month.They are building on the successes of clubs in Hertfordshire, Cheshire and Durham, which piloted the scheme and are continuing to run golf days to welcome newcomers to the sport.The playing days are for women who have taken Get into Golf coaching sessions and want support to try their new skills on the course. They are designed to help the new players build confidence, make friends – and have a laugh together.The events are played on short courses or nine-hole layouts suitable for beginners. They all have shotgun starts, so the players start and finish together and can socialise after play over a glass of fizz or juice.Scoring avoids counting the strokes. Instead, the players complete challenges, which involve playing skills and etiquette such as successfully hitting the green in one, raking the bunker correctly and shaking hands on the final green when they complete their game. More experienced golfers are also on hand to help.It gets the thumbs-up from players who’ve already tried it. Here’s what some of them have to say:• “It was great to have the opportunity to get out on a golf course with other beginners and someone who can advise and instruct you, whilst making sure that you were having fun and not losing confidence – Karen, Cheshire• “It has helped to build my confidence” – Catherine, Northumberland• “Prosecco makes a bad round good!” – Jo, Hertfordshire• “I’m really enjoying my new hobby” – Julia, Northumberland• “It’s enjoyable even if you are not playing well” – Trish, Hertfordshire• “Great to play with a group of ladies from other clubs with similar ability and knowledge” – Jo, HertfordshireWomen on Par is an initiative from England Golf, which is committed to growing the women and girls’ game. Currently only 15 per cent of club members are women and just one per cent are girls.Visit getintogolf.org to find out about and book these sessions and discover other opportunities for beginners and improvers. 2 May 2018 Clubs back drive to get more women beginners playing golf Tags: Beginners, England Golf, Get into golf, Womenlast_img read more

HAMMER MURDER TRIAL: DONEGAL TOWN ACCUSED WAS ‘LIKE FAMILY’, SAYS VICTIM’S WIDOW

first_imgFROM JOHN SMITHSON IN READING: The widow of a man found buried under a pile of sand inside a workvan has told a jury his accused killers – including a Donegal Town man – treated him like family and even called him a son or brother.Shaleem Amar, 33, died from massive head injuries allegedly suffered in a brutal hammer attack on November 17 last year carried out at a luxury home he was renting through the men charged with his murder.Donegal Town man Robert Derek Johnston, 57, known as Derek (right), and his sons Ben, 27, Tom, 25, and their employee Shaun Matthews, 56, all deny the murder charge. The victim’s widow, Shajiba Amar, 32, told Reading Crown Court that she met the entire Johnston family in the summer of last year at a central London restaurant where the birthday party of Derek’s son Jamie Johnston, who is not involved in the case, was taking place.She described the men’s relationship with her husband as being “very close.”“They were laughing, joking and hugging each other,” she said from behind a screen, shielding her from the four men standing in the dock flanked by prison officers. “They were very jovial. Derek hugged my husband and said he was like a son to him.“They were fond of him and my husband was fond of them.”She said Jamie Johnston had also described her husband as being a brother to him. They had also nicknamed him Max, she added.Prosecutor Noel Lucas QC told the court that Mr Amar had been at large right up to his death.Mrs Amar said her husband had absconded for three years after he was arrested in 2004 for possessing a firearm.He was arrested and sentenced to four and half years in prison in 2007, but three years later he did not return to prison while on day release.Mrs Amar said she had their third child while he was in jail and her husband had regretted not being there for the family.She said her husband wanted to make it up to them and asked them to move into a gated luxury property with a pool called Tresanton that he was renting in Sunningdale, Berkshire.“I disagreed and said ’I don’t want a big house with a pool, I just want to be a family’,” she said.“He saw how I struggled financially while he was in prison.”She said six weeks prior to his death the family had moved in but she was still renting an apartment in east London.A week before her husband’s death, she said the Johnstons told them social services were asking questions.She said she had intentions of dropping social benefits she received as it became apparent her husband could support them.“We were working on our marriage,” she said.She said during their final six weeks together they had “become very close” and added: “We had rediscovered each other.”She said her husband trusted the Johnstons and asked them what to do when he was told social services were on to them.“Derek suggested that I go back (to her apartment) just for a week,” she said.She said she and the children moved out that Friday but visited him at the weekend and she had also visited Tresanton on the day of his death.She dropped her children off at school and her youngest daughter at nursery and arrived at her husband’s home just before 1pm.But she said there was a white van parked in the driveway behind the gates, blocking her from entering.She said she hit the buzzer and after several minutes Derek Johnston came out of the house.“He shut the back door of the van. He was ignoring me,” she said.“When I greeted him he didn’t look at my face. I thought he was being rude but didn’t say anything.”She said when she asked where her husband was, he told her he’d gone to the airport to pick someone up and called out to his sons telling them she was here.“He said my husband had left him to lock up after he dropped off the tumble drier,” she said.“I had no reason to doubt him.”She said she walked up to the front patio and entered the front door, when she saw Tom and Ben to her left facing the swimming pool.Mrs Amar said she never saw anything in the van.She said her husband forged a business relationship with the Johnstons in 2009 in what he described as “investments”.Pausing and breathing heavily, the emotional Mrs Amar said her husband only had good things to say about the men.“I thought it was investments as far as I know,” she said.“He said they were a good family, honest and well respected.”The trial of Johnston senior, 57, and his two sons, all from Pampisford, Cambridgeshire, and Matthews, from Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, is expected to run until mid-December.© 2011 donegaldaily.com, all Rights ReservedThe copying, republication or redistribution of donegaldaily.com Content and Ideas including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited by law.Follow us on www.twitter.com/donegaldailyFollow us on www.facebook.com/donegaldailySell anything on www.donegaldailyclassifieds.comHAMMER MURDER TRIAL: DONEGAL TOWN ACCUSED WAS ‘LIKE FAMILY’, SAYS VICTIM’S WIDOW was last modified: November 12th, 2011 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Darwin Debates Attract Rhetoricians, Some Pro, Some Not

first_imgNothing like a controversy to get people talking.  Some understand the issues and speak with skill and style; some just like to be part of the excitement.  Here are samples from the war of the words over evolution:Connect the Dots:  Having just read Richard Weikart’s From Darwin to Hitler (02/03/2005), Chuck Colson on BreakPoint drew parallels to the Terry Schiavo incident.The Skill of Skell:  Dr. Philip S. Skell again showed the power of a cogent editorial as he asked “Why Do We Invoke Darwin?” in The Scientist.  He claimed that Darwinian evolution is essentially useless as a heuristic in experimental biology.  The subscription-only article has been reprinted by Discovery Institute.Sports ID:  Sally Jenkins, sports writer in the Washington Post, gave surprisingly good press to ID.  Her point is not that ID is good science, but a little philosophical adventurism can be helpful.  She seems to have a point here and there, but mostly engages in name-dropping and complaining that the human body isn’t perfect.  Rob Crowther at Evolution News liked it.  He thought she hit a home run – at least for getting the definition of ID straight. Larsony:  Edward J. Larson, professor of science history (U of Georgia), told the LA Times what he thought the country needs to do about ID: not replace Darwinism, which he feels has been useful to science, but use it as a teachable moment: “good biology teachers could use issues raised by the intelligent design movement to help their classes better understand Darwinism.”  Larson delivered the lectures “The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy” in 2002 for The Teaching Company Great Courses Series.  He recognized then and now that most people do not accept doctrinaire evolution and that their values need to be taken into consideration by scientists and educators.  Nevertheless, he agrees with the scientific establishment that science must operate by methodological naturalism.  Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network considers Larson a brilliant man with blinders on.[A]theistic Science:  Cornelia Dean in the New York Times wrote about varying views on God among scientists, focusing on the theistic-evolution views of Dr. Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project.Highlander Games:  No Bobby Burns is he; guest columnist for The Scotsman, Robin Dunbar, called ID a “dangerous folly” and let President Bush have a piece of his mind.When the rhetoric flies, exercise sense, not sensationalism.  Some get it right, some have no context.  This debate has deep roots in history.  Perpetuating buzzwords or labels is not going to make the debate over naturalism vs. design disappear.  Caution: read news articles and editorials on this issue only with Baloney Detector engaged and in good working order – but do read.(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Evidence for Inflation, or Inflating the Evidence?

first_imgCosmic inflation has become an accepted truth in cosmology, but its appeal is primarily philosophical and theoretical.  Something as weird as a universe jumping 26 orders of magnitude in size in one trillion trillion trillionth of a second (see 02/21/2005) should raise eyebrows in any scientific circle.  Is there any evidence for it?  Live Science reported that a new search for its smoking gun is being planned.    Researchers from the University of Chicago are placing an instrument on a telescope at the South Pole to look for gravitational waves.  These elusive waves should propagate from any high-energy event in space, such as the formation of a black hole.  It’s not clear if cosmic inflation would show a gravitational wave signature, but they hope to know in 10 years.  “It’s possible that inflation theory is entirely wrong,” wrote Robin Lloyd for Live Science.  “So discovery of gravity waves would be a big deal and go a long way toward validating the theory, as well as the big bang and some other big cosmological claims.”    What would it mean if no evidence is found?  Surprisingly, the same thing as a positive detection.  “The absence of gravitational waves is completely consistent with inflation,” said Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State.  How, then, can inflation be confirmed if either answer is consistent with theory?  Krauss can only hope that a positive detection would allow “a real possibility of pinning things down enough so that one could perhaps convince every physicist that inflation happened.”  This implies that a positive detection could have multiple interpretations.    First, though, they have to invent new physics.  Three key components of modern cosmology have no evidential or physical basis right now.  “We have these key components to our picture of the universe, but we really don’t know what physics produces any of them, said Scott Dodelson [U of Chicago], referring to inflation, dark energy and dark matter – the proposed stuff that makes up the universe’s missing mass.  ‘The goal of the next decade is to identify the physics.’”What are outside observers of modern cosmology supposed to conclude when its proponents admit that ignorance of the key components of the theory exceeds knowledge?  This is crazy.  It’s like the lobbyist for a defense contractor promising a Senator they’ll have that Buck Rogers space-based weapons surveillance system they promised, once they figure out how to build rockets, computers and remote-sensing instruments, after they discover the physics behind them all.  It’s all just a story right now.  They like the plot, but what basis does it have in reality?  Zilch.    Inflation doesn’t solve anything, anyway.  Sean M. Carroll said that the initial conditions that would make inflation possible are even more finely-tuned than the cosmic coincidences it was concocted to explain away.  Remember?  He said in that classic paper, “Is Our Universe Natural,” reported here 05/11/2006, “The fact that the initial proto-inflationary patch must be smooth and dominated by dark energy implies that it must have a very low entropy itself; reasonable estimates for this entropy SI range from about 1 to 1020.  Thus, among randomly chosen initial conditions, the likelihood of finding an appropriate proto-inflationary region is actually much less than simply finding the conditions of the conventional Big Bang model (or, for that matter, of our Universe ten minutes ago).  It would seem that the conditions required to start inflation are less natural than those of the conventional Big Bang.”  The whole big-bang shebang is barfed up out of their empty naturalistic gut feelings.  What does explain the fine-tuning of the cosmos?  Creation, naturally.(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Secrets of Three Amazing Animals Unveiled

first_img(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Here are accounts of three very different animals whose behaviors have baffled scientists till now.  Scientists are beginning to get at least partial answers for scientific mysteries by carefully observing and testing to see how things work.Waving corals.  Some soft corals pulsate regularly.  Why is that?  Why would they perform motion that is energetically costly?  PhysOrg reported that scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem wanted to solve this “old scientific mystery.”One of the most fascinating and spectacular sights in the coral reef of Eilat is the perpetual motion of the tentacles of a coral called Heteroxenia (Heteroxenia fuscescens). Heteroxenia is a soft coral from the family Xeniidae, which looks like a small bunch of flowers, settled in the reef walls and on rocky areas on the bottom of the reef. Each “flower” is actually a living polyp, the basic unit which comprises a coral colony. Apparently, the motion of these polyps, resembling flowers that are elegantly spreading out and closing up their petals, is unique in the animal kingdom.Researchers found that the corals take a “siesta” for a half hour every day.  They will also stop pulsing for a few minutes after being touched.  By measuring the water flow around the corals, the researchers found that the pulsations effectively stir the water around these filter feeders to enable new nutrient-rich water to flow in.  It also removes excess oxygen and brings in carbon dioxide, raising the rate of photosynthesis for symbiotic algae.  “The findings of this study indicate that pulsation motions are a highly efficient means for sweeping away water from the pulsating body, and for an increased mixing of dissolved matter between the body and the surrounding medium,” the report said.  The answer to this biological mystery was not just for curiosity: “These two processes (expulsion of medium and mixing of solutes) may lead to future applications in engineering and medicine.”Baby turtles:  Surely everyone who has watched TV footage of baby sea turtles scurrying across the sand toward the water thinks it’s cute.  Scientists agree, but ask questions beyond: how do the turtles travel so effectively, several body lengths per second, across soft sand?  Science Daily tells how researchers at Georgia Tech tried to mimic the action with “Flipper-Bot,” a robot with paddle-like limbs (see video of the turtles and the robot on YouTube).  A Georgia Tech biologist first filmed the hatchlings traveling toward a light at night.  Their clumsy-looking limbs are actually quite effective at scurrying over sand without moving it much.  They can control their wrists depending on the medium.  “On hard ground, their wrists locked in place, and they pivoted about a fixed arm,” the scientist explained. “On soft sand, they put their flippers into the sand and the wrist would bend as they moved forward.”  A robot model proved this is a good way to travel; it gives a high angle of attack, and reduces drag.  The article suggested that the new information “could ultimately provide clues to how turtles evolved to walk on land with appendages designed for swimming,” but one of the researchers quickly admitted, “We don’t have solid results on the evolutionary questions yet….”Homing pigeons:  A mystery of bird navigation is closer to being solved.  PhysOrg reported that Viennese and Australian scientists have “added some important pieces” to the puzzle of how birds navigate, a skill that allows some species to span the globe on the wing.  It turns out every bird (but not humans) has little iron balls in sensory neurons.  “Remarkably, each cell has a single iron ball, and it’s in the same place in every cell,” they noted.  Even ostriches have them.  Perhaps these are the “elusive magnetoreceptors” that respond to the earth’s magnetic field.  A previous theory has been discredited.  It turns out that iron-rich clusters thought to exist in pigeon beaks were just blood cells.  If the iron in the sensory neurons is involved in birds’ magnetic sense, scientists still do not know how they work: “we’re a long way off understanding how magnetic sensing works,” one of the scientists said; “we still don’t know what these mysterious iron balls are doing.”The classical “scientific method” of observation, hypothesis, and testing can answer questions about “how things work” if they are amenable to repeated observation, as in these cases.  Stories about “how they got that way” by evolution are far less useful.  When scientists approach things as if they work for a purpose, whether coral pulsations or turtle flippers, they usually get two rewards: satisfying explanations that can bear repeated testing, and applications that can improve human life.  Liberate these scientists from the ball and chain of having to add a Darwinian just-so story to their work.Speaking of birds, a great new film on bird flight is coming from Illustra Media.  Watch for the news here.  It contains a truly stunning story of migration, as well as other cutting-edge findings that were obtained by good observational scientific methods.  The film will illustrate a common experience in scientific research: when scientists look more closely at natural phenomena, they usually find answers that are far more dynamic and wonderful than previously thought: answers that transcend language and cause us to stand in awe.last_img read more

Why the Rain Dance Brings Rain

first_img Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Now Parts of the Southwestern United States are very dry, very arid regions. In the past, the Native American tribes that lived there needed the rain to survive. When the rain didn’t come, the Native American tribes would do what is called rainmaking or, a rain dance.The Native Americans participating in the rain dance would dress up in special headdresses and jewelry. And even though most dances excluded women, the women also danced. Rain was important.A Native American rain dance is unlike other dances. It’s more complicated. It’s not just a circle; it’s a pattern woven over and over again. And the dances could go on for hours. Sometimes they could go on for days.But what you may not know about the Native American Rain Dance is that it always worked. Eventually, the rain came. The reason the Native American rain dance always worked is because the Native Americans didn’t stop dancing until it rained. They persisted.last_img read more