The Frontal Cortex

Archives for February, 2007

Scientific Imperfections

Here at Scienceblogs, we spent a lot of time debunking various types of unscientific falsehoods (aka “woo,” religious believers, and the conservapedia.) As far as I’m concerned, that’s just great. The world always is always suffering from a shortage of skepticism. We need more empiricism and less certainty. But it’s worth reminding ourselves of the…

The Whole Foods Wars

It’s the latest bourgeois battle: a bunch of angry supermarket shoppers, led by Michael Pollan, are criticizing Whole Foods for not living up to their organic values. While the stores are filled with billboards extolling the virtues of small farms and local produce, Whole Foods gets most of its provisions from big agribusiness, albeit with…

Economics, Statistics and Autism

Last year, a Cornell University economist named Michael Waldman noticed a strange correlation: the more precipitation a region received, the more likely children were to be diagnosed with autism. [This] soon led Prof. Waldman to conclude that something children do more during rain or snow — perhaps watching television — must influence autism. Last October,…

Psychology and Religion

Over at Mixing Memory, Chris has an excellent post complicating the recent psychological study which demonstrated that reading selected passages from the Bible about retributive violence makes people more aggressive. He reminds us that other studies have found the opposite effect. Chris’ sobering conclusion is exactly right: Religion, like any other social institution, can cause…

Modeling the Future

I’m glad Al Gore won the Oscar. Personally, I found his film a little dry and pedantic, but it has clearly played an essential role in shifting the public debate on global warming. (Or are we now supposed to call global warming “the climate crisis,” pace Gore?) But it’s worth remembering that our scientific models…

Inequality and Neuroscience

My last post on David Brooks, conservatism and neuroscience inspired a spirited debate. I argued that the discoveries of modern neuroscience seem to support liberal public policies focused on reducing levels of inequality: While conservatives tend to regard poverty as primarily a cultural issue, solvable by increasing marriage rates and transitioning people to minimum wage…

California, The Model

I like Paul Krugman’s column today for two reasons. 1) He works in a nice allusion to Chomsky. His headline is “Colorless Green Ideas“. 2) He makes an important point about California and energy conservation: Let me tell you about a real-world example of an advanced economy that has managed to combine rising living standards…

Behavioral Economics and Bureaucrats

Jane Galt mocks liberal interpretations of behavioral economics: [This] also applies to behavioural economics, which the left seems to believe is a magical proof of the benevolence of government intervention, because after all, people are stupid, so they need the government to protect them from themselves. My take is a little subtler than that: 1)…

The World Cup Baby Boom

From Der Spiegel: The football World Cup from June 9 to July 9 last year appears to have sparked a baby boom in the host country Germany, where hospitals are reporting a marked rise in imminent births nine months after the tournament, remembered here as a month-long fairy-tale of sunshine, parties and soccer success. The…

Autism and Neurodiversity

It’s a gripping video, a youtube window into the autistic mind: And now Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the telegenic brain surgeon on CNN, has spent time with Amanda, the “low-functioning” autistic woman produced and starred in the video: She taught me a lot over the day that I spent with her. She told me that looking…