Archives for August, 2012

Faith in the Higgs?

I have a new post up over at HuffPo. I discuss, and find wanting, the argument made by Daniel Sarewitz in this op-ed from Nature. Here’s a taste: Sarewitz’ argument backfires in that it calls our attention to the key difference between science and religion. It is sometimes said that religion answers questions about meaning…

Krugman Sums Up The Repubs.

As you know, I recently wrote a book describing my experiences in attending creationist conferences. Over a period of several years I attended one such event after another, often spending many hours a day listening to vicious, ignorant nonsense. I mention this to establish my high tolerance for right-wing stupidity. Why, then, do I find…

Well, it looks like I have my next book project lined up! This one’s a bit of a departure for me, since I will be an editor this time as opposed to an author. I will be editing a tribute volume to Raymond Smullyan, to be published by Dover Publications probably sometime next year. I’ve…

Yoram Hazony, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says He does! I suppose that’s good news for someone like me, but the basis for Hazony’s argument strikes me as a bit dubious. Here’s the opening: Today’s debates over the place of religion in modern life often showcase the claim that belief in God stifles reason…

A Preacher Turned Atheist

Jerry Coyne directs our attention to a harrowing, but important, article from The New York Times Magazine. It is a profile of Jerry DeWitt, a former Pentecostal preacher who discovered, after more than twenty-five years in the biz, that he no longer believed any of the things he was preaching. Here’s the opening: Late one…

Two Puzzles

I am at a loss for good blog fodder today, so how about an amusing chess-themed puzzle I recently came across? It’s a simple question: What is it that the queen cannot do that a king, rook, bishop, knight or pawn can all do? Good luck! Come to think of it, here’s another puzzle I’ve…

Spiders!

During my recent trip to New York I found some time to visit the American Museum of Natural History. I wanted to see their spider exhibit, you see. Of course, step one was finding the place. Seventy-eighth and Central Park West, as I recall. Ah, this looks right: The exhibit itself was a bit smaller…

And Now the BSB!

Mathematician Tanya Khovanova has just posted a review of the Big Sudoku Book. She writes: I received the book Taking Sudoku Seriously by by Jason Rosenhouse and Laura Taalman for review and put it aside to collect some dust. You see, I have solved too many Sudokus in my life. The idea of solving another…

Evolutionary Creation?

A while back I did a post criticizing the idea that theistic evolution is a form of intelligent design. My argument was that theistic evolutionists accept modern evolutionary science as essentially correct, but also believe that it is not the whole story. This is relevantly different from those who say that modern science is rotten…

Let’s get the week started off right: Moss Bluff Elementary School in Louisiana is looking to streamline lunch payments by implementing a palm vein scanner program, but some parents aren’t pleased. A letter to parents this week informed them of the new scanner that will allow the school’s nearly 1,000 students to move through the…

Massimo Pigliucci has a post up that is partly about the issue of realism vs. anti-realism in the philosophy of science. He describes the issue as follows: To put it very briefly, a realist is someone who thinks that scientific theories aim at describing the world as it is (of course, within the limits of…

My Silly Cat

My cat, Emily, tends to get a bit sulky when I leave her for long periods of time. So when I returned home from New York the other day, having been gone for a week, I was not surprised when she did not greet me at the door. Par for the course, I thought. She’ll…

New Reviews of the BMHB and the BECB

The Big Monty Hall Book is now more than three years old, but new reviews still appear occasionally. The latest one comes from the magazine Significance, published by the Royal Statistical Society. The reviewer is Tom Fanshawe, a statistician at Lancaster University in England. Alas, the review is not freely available online, so permit me…

An amusing tidbit, from HuffPo: The U.S. population has reached a nerdy and delightful milestone. Shortly after 2:29 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the U.S. population was exactly 314,159,265, or pi (π) times 100 million, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Clock projects the real-time size of the U.S. population…

On Fooling People With Numbers

One thing I have learned from more than a decade of teaching mathematics is that it is very easy to bamboozle people with numbers and equations. I do it all the time in my calculus classes, and that is when I am bending over backward to be as clear as I possibly can. Creationists are…