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.

The Pope On Charlie Hebdo

Pope Francis engages in some yes-buttery with regard to the Charlie Hebdo murders: Pope Francis said Thursday there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith. Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right…

Final Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

I don’t have much to add to what I have already said about the Charlie Hebdo killings. However, having had some time to think about things a little more, and to read what other people have said, I do feel inclined to change my mind about one aspect of this. First, Charlie Hebdo put out…

Ice Breaker Card Tricks

Today was the first day of classes for the spring semester. I have a light teaching load this term, which is my reward for having an especially heavy teaching load last term. Just two classes, and they both meet in the afternoon, no less. For a night-owl like me that’s a good deal. One of…

Sunday Chess Problem

The last two installments of this series have seen some pretty heavy problems. So, this week I’d like to lighten the mood. The problem below calls for selfmate in two, and it was composed by me! It was published in the May 2014 issue of The Problemist. Recall that white is always moving up the…

The Pythagorean theorem made a big impression on me when I first saw it in middle school. It was probably the first genuinely non-trivial theorem that I learned. The theorem is simple to state and to understand, but it is not at all obvious. I have a clear memory of my sixth grade math teacher,…

I’m sure we all remember Pascal’s Wager. Though it is often wrongly presented as an argument for God’s existence, it was really intended as an argument for why we should act as though we believe in God. Roughly, the idea was that if you believe in God and you’re wrong then, well, no big deal.…

More on Charlie Hebdo

Lots of responses to the terrorist attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Some of it reasonable, some of it not. Matthew Yglesias said almost the same thing I did: Viewed in a vacuum, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons (or the Danish ones that preceded it) are hardly worthy of a stirring defense. They offer…

Charlie Hebdo

You’ve probably already heard about what happened in France today: Masked gunmen attacked the Paris offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing 12 people before fleeing. French security forces launched a major manhunt in the capital after the gunmen fled the scene of the attack, The Guardian reported. Police are searching for…

Sunday Chess Problem

When I started this series, one of the first topics I highlighted was the idea of a logical problem. The idea is this: White has a main plan for achieving his objective. However, if he tries to play it immediately black has a defense that will defeat him. So white must first play a foreplan,…

Cuomo on Church and State

Mario Cuomo, governor of New York from 1983-1994, died on New Year’s day. He is a throwback to a time when Democrats weren’t cowards, and were actually capable of articulating a compelling and humane vision of how society should be. Consider this speech, delivered at the University of Notre Dame in 1984. Cuomo was a…

Sunday Chess Problem

Well, it’s taken me longer to get back to this than I originally planned, but how about a second look at the Babson Task? The problem below was composed by Leonid Yarosh, in 1983. It’s white to move and mate in four: Remember that white is always moving up the board and black is always…

Cops

I was all set to do a big post about the police, but then Kevin Drum went and said exactly what I was thinking: It shouldn’t be too hard to hold two thoughts in our minds at once. Thought #1: Police officers have an intrinsically tough and violent job. Split-second decisions about the use of…

Adam and Eve, Continued

Let’s continue with the discussion I started in yesterday’s post. We are considering whether it is reasonable to persist in believing in the reality of Adam and Eve given the findings of modern science. The problem is that the Bible seems clear that at the time of their creation, Adam and Eve were the only…

Adam and Eve

A common theme at this blog is that I don’t like blanket statements to the effect that science and religion are incompatible. The main problem I have is that “religion” means so many different things to different people that it is pointless to paint with such a broad brush. A secondary point is that science…

Intelligent Design: Still Dead

Actually, I wrote that last post partly because I wanted to comment on this one, from David Klinghoffer. He likens the plight of TNRs former staff to the situation of ID proponents: I identify with TNR’s ex-staff, too, in a more fundamental way. In the evolution controversy, it’s supporters of intelligent design who stand for…