Jason Rosenhouse received his PhD in mathematics from Dartmouth College in 2000. He subsequently spent three years as a post-doc at Kansas State University. Currently he is Associate Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. This blog is about science, religion, math, politics and chess, roughly in that order.

Mathematical Anti-Evolutionism

As it happens, I’ve been thinking about mathematical anti-evolutionism a lot lately. Sometime over the summer, though I can’t find the exact post, I mentioned that I had been working on an article about mathematical arguments against evolution. I finished it in the fall, and it has recently been accepted for publication in the journal…

Another Round On Specified Complexity

There’s a famous short story by Woody Allen called “The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers” that I like to reread from time to time. (It’s very short, so follow the link if you’ve never read it before.) The story is told through the correspondence of Gossage and Vardebedian, as they argue about a game of postal chess in…

A Creationist Testimonial

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to pay more attention to my blog, so let’s kick off the year by considering what showed up in my mailbox today. Though I have recently been less active on the creationism beat than I have been in the past, I am still on a handful of creationist…

Sunday Chess Problem

I’m a bit pressed for time today, so I’ve chosen a simple, but very charming, problem for you this week. This was composed by Fritz Giegold and Herbert Engel in 1973. White is to play and mate in five: Things certainly look bad for black, since he’s boxed in and hard up for moves. But…

Sunday Chess Problem

This week I have a classic direct-mate problem for you. It comes from the great Soviet composer Lev Loshinsky and was published in 1947. Loshinsky’s last appearance in Sunday Chess Problem was almost two years ago, so it is well past time to see another of his works. White is to move and mate in…

The Saga of Mickey Kaus

This might be too inside baseball for a lot of people, but those who have been reading political bogs for a long time might find it interesting. BuzzFeed has a lengthy profile of Mickey Kaus. When I first started taking politics seriously in the mid-nineties, Kaus was a writer for The New Republic, and a…

Sam Harris Drives His Critics Insane

You can accuse Sam Harris of a lot of things, but being a bad writer is not one of them. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I basically agree but think his manner of expression makes life too easy for his critics, and sometimes I disagree. But I always feel like I understand perfectly what…

Wisdom From Drum

Prior to Donald Trump’s latest expectoration, which has proven to be a bit much even for hard-core conservatives, the Republicans were worked up over a pressing question of semantics. In their telling, if you describe the threat we face as coming from “Jihadism,” then you are a politically correct pussy who just doesn’t get it.…

Talking About Islam

It seems like everyone’s losing their minds about Islam these days. On the one hand there are many on the left who will accuse you of bigotry or Islamophobia if you criticize anything at all about Islam. Apparently we’re not allowed to notice that there are fifty-some Muslim countries in the world, but you’re hard-pressed…

Sunday Chess Problem

Having taken the last two weeks off, Sunday Chess Problem now makes a triumphant return! This week I have chosen a wonderful direct mate problem by Valentin Rudenko, composed in 1983. It deservedly won First Prize in its tourney. White is to play and mate in four: This problem showcases a maneuver I have not…

Let us continue with our discussion of Winston Ewert’s defense of the concept of “specified complexity.” In Part One we saw that Ewert’s defense was actually rather tepid. He mostly gave away the game by writing: It is true that specified complexity does not in any way help establish that the probability of complex life…

A Brainteaser

Here’s a brainteaser for you. I’m interested to know what you all think of it: A group of smokers had twenty-five cigarette butts in an ashtray. Each butt still contained a small amount of usable tobacco. The smokers knew that any five butts contained enough tobacco to make one new cigarette. How many new cigarettes…

Over at the Discovery Institute’s blog, Winston Ewert has a post up explaining, one more time, what specified complexity is. Since I am given a mention near the end, perhaps it’s worth a look. For those not steeped in ID rhetoric, “specified complexity” is a term coined by William Dembski. It is an attribute that…

The Final POTW Has Been Posted

The title says it all. Go have a look and let me know what you think. Problem of the eek will make a triumphant return in January. See you then!

A Little Light Reading

I’m currently working out of my New Jersey office, which is to say that I’m visiting my family for Thanksgiving. But if you’re looking for a little light reading, try this short post by Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question…