Saturday, July 03, 2010

APPNA meeting and Mars

For the last few days I have been at the annual meeting of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North-American (APPNA) in Dallas, Texas. I'm here for conducting interviews with doctors about evolution as part of a research project. So first just a comment about the hotel. The meeting is in a giant resort hotel, Gaylord Texan, right off the Dallas Fort-Worth airport. The hotel is actually quite comfortable (I watched parts of soccer games on a 52 foot - yes, 52 foot! - high definition projection screen), but it is all under a gigantic glass ceiling. Therefore, we the atmosphere inside the resort is always very comfortable and the conditions are impervious to the actual weather outside. This is all well and good, but at dinner today at an "outdoor" restaurant, it suddenly struck me, that this is how it will be like living on Mars - at least for the first few decades, before we terraform it to make it more comfortable for us. C'mon, it's about time we tame nature :)

But we've also had some serious discussions here about Pakistan, terrorism, and the fallout for Pakistani-Americans from the whole Faisal Shahzad (the Time Square bomber) affair. I will have a post on that tomorrow.


Natasha said...

I've stayed at that same hotel, and it's quite unnerving to be in a controlled atmosphere 24/7! Everything's there, so there's no reason to leave. Anyway, I've been there twice with my parents - back when I was religious - for the International Worship Institute, perhaps one of the creepiest displays of Pentecostal religion out there.

Salman Hameed said...

Aha - no International Worship Institute there this time, but there was something on the Church and Media.

As far as the controlled environment is concerned, I was recently at a conference in Vegas - at Paris Hotel - and it was far more unnerving than Gaylord Texan. At least the Texan has lots of plants... and thankfully no slot-machines. Oh - and there better not be any casinos on Mars!!

Ali said...

"I'm here for conducting interviews with doctors about evolution as part of a research project."

Do you have any preliminary results?
I am curious. :)

Salman Hameed said...

"Do you have any preliminary results?"

Hopefully in a few months. We are conducting interviews, so it takes times for a proper analysis. However, I can tell you that the picture is complex and there is a lot of negotiation going on. For example, even those who reject evolution, often times still accept some parts of the theory. Similarly, the acceptance of theory is associated with selective rejection. I find it fascinating the way people assign scientific and religious weight to the different aspects of the theory.

This is probably not a satisfactory answer, but we will have more in the next few months (Indonesia and Malaysia are next for our study ...).

Ali said...

Hi Salman,

Thanks. That was helpful.

The thing with Darwin's Theory is God's hand is ruled out in creation as if it is proven that way.

I would not say anyone with the understanding of what goes on inside a cell would feel comfortable in saying that randomness and natural selection can give rise to a living cell.

Similarly the human brain is far too complex an organ to believe it can arise the same way -- by means of random mutations and natural selection.

I am astonished that some actually do believe that there is nothing God did in creating life and in creating human beings.

I will look forward to see your results. Mean while, it may be helpful to know that more than 60 percent of US doctors are sceptical of Darwin's theory. :)

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