Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

1 hour ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Editor's note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.

Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to, on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

The 'Brilliant Blunders' Of Science: Success Through Failure

May 28, 2013
Originally published on May 28, 2013 4:03 pm

"Experience is the name everyone gives their mistakes" said Oscar Wilde and it is true that, hopefully, we all learn from our mistakes. But what about science?

In school we learn about the scientific method and its emphasis on observation, hypothesis and experiments. Clearly mistakes are an important part of the process. It has even been said that the point of science is to make as many mistakes as possible as fast as possible. Still, what about the really big mistakes?

What about brilliant scientists grasping at ideas across their entire careers that later turned out to be completely and utterly wrong? Given the role that stature plays in the culture of science, what are we to make of such "brilliant blunders"? That's the question astrophysicist Mario Livio takes on in his new book of the same name.

To answer this question, Livio chose five examples where scientists of the highest caliber made grand mistakes: Darwin and genetics; Lord Kelvin and the age of the Earth; Linus Pauling and DNA; Fred Hoyle and the Big Bang; Albert Einstein and the cosmological constant. Each case highlights some aspect of the evolution in our thinking about life and the Universe.

That's no accident as Livio is interested in the ways in which personal beliefs and biases can affect a scientist's commitment to particular theoretical explanations. And there is no place where prior beliefs pop up more readily, be they religious or philosophical, than in questions of origin and evolution. Livio ticks off the sins of his chosen five:

Darwin's blunder was in not realizing the full implications of a particular hypothesis. Kelvin blundered by ignoring unforeseen possibilities. Pauling's blunder was the result of over confidence bred by previous success. Hoyle erred in his obstinate advocacy of dissent from mainstream science. Einstein failed because of a misguided sense of what constitutes aesthetic simplicity.

Livio believes, there are lessons to be learned in how these great scientists made their great mistakes. As he puts it:

As I hope to show, the analysis of these blunders form a living body of knowledge that is not only captivating in its own right but can also be used to guide actions in domains ranging from scientific practices to ethical behavior.

Mario Livio is an entertaining writer. His genuine excitement and passion for this subject light up the whole book. I recall first meeting Livio at a conference in my days as a graduate student. I came away from his talk enchanted by the delight he took in advocating for his ideas. In Brilliant Blunders he's just as compelling. Even as he leads the reader ever deeper into his argument about how science itself works, he never fails to keep things lively with engaging accounts about his subjects and their work.

Science, as Livio so beautifully shows, is a human endeavor. That means even the most brilliant scientists are prone to typical human failings. Through the remarkable collective process that is science, however, the voice of the world can be clearly heard and our mistakes realized. That, ultimately, is our greatest collective success.


You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @AdamFrank4

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.