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.

Everyone Likes Cat Pictures!

Assisted suicide is not the happiest topic in the world, so I think it’s time to lighten the mood around here. And what better way to do that than with some cute animal pictures? Let’s start with Emily keeping me company while I am at the computer: I was making revisions to my paper about…

MacDonald on Assisted Dying

I hadn’t intended to turn this into assisted dying week, but that’s how it’s turning out. After his recent debate with Christian apologist William Lane Craig, Sean Carroll expressed frustration that the debate followed a certain pattern. Craig would make an argument, then Carroll would rebut it, then Craig would simply repeat the same argument…

Replies to Smith and Klinghoffer

Wesley Smith and David Klinghoffer have now replied to yesterday’s post, here and here respectively. Smith’s reply simply ignores all of the main points that I made. He’s mostly sore that I did not discuss two specific cases from his original essay, of people who faced great physical suffering but overcame it to live long…

Consider this profile of NPR reporter Diane Rehm, in which she relates the harrowing story of her husband’s final days: His Parkinson’s disease had become unbearable. “He just kept getting weaker,” the NPR host told NBC News. “We called in the doctor and John said to him: `I am ready today.’ He said `I can…

Sunday Chess Problem

Today I have a charming little bagatelle for your consideration. It was composed by Alfreds Dombrovskis in 1958. In the diagram position, white is to play mate in two. Keep in mind that white is always moving up the board and black is always moving down. Vertical files are labeled a–h from left to right,…

Americans and Math

From the current issue of The New York Times Magazine: One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder;…

The Multiverse is a Done Deal

That title is somewhat facetious, of course, but I do think the multiverse is far more than an idle speculation. I think it is an idea that is sufficiently well-supported that it is those who deny it who should be on the defensive. I would make an elaborate argument in defense of that claim, but…

Israel

There’s plenty of science and religion stuff out there, but I think talking about anything else right now would be to ignore the elephant in the room. There’s a basic moral principle that I subscribe to that goes like this: When your neighbor is relentlessly firing rockets at you in an attempt to kill as…

Sunday Chess Problem

My renewed interest in chess has not just extended to tournament play. I am composing chess problems again as well. Here’s one I came up with recently, and which will eventually be published in The Problemist magazine. In the position below, white is looking for selfmate in thirteen moves: Recall that white is always moving…

The anti-evolutionists just never get tired of the second law thermodynamics! The latest bit of silliness comes from Barry Arrington, writing at Uncommon Descent. Here’s the whole post: I hope our materialist friends will help us with this one. As I understand their argument, entropy is not an obstacle to blind watchmaker evolution, because entropy…

All Hail Weird Al!

I’ve been a fan of Weird Al Yankovic ever since “Eat It” He just keeps getting better and better. His new video, “Tacky”, a spoof of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” has just been released: Great stuff! Be sure to pay attention to the lyrics. They’re hilarious! I also like his palindrome song:

Ruse On the Problem Of Evil

Over at The New York Times, Gary Gutting has an interview with philosopher Michael Ruse. It is part of a series on philosophy and religion. There are several interesting nuggets in the interview, but I just want to discuss this one: G.G.: Do you think that evolution lends support to the atheistic argument from evil:…

Apropos of our discussion of the proper interpretation of Genesis, Kelly James Clark, writing at Huffington Post, summarizes the state of play at some Christian Colleges: Shortly after the 2004 publication of his book, Random Designer, biologist Richard Colling was prohibited from teaching introductory biology courses at Olivet Nazarene College in Illinois and his book…

World Open, Part Three

Ever wonder what it looks like to have 300 games of chess going on in one room? There was a second ballroom, almost as large, which was also filled with players. Well, we have arrived at round eight. In the prior seven rounds I had scored three wins, two losses, one draw, and one win…

As it happens, the previous post was mostly a digression from what I really wanted to discuss. The set-up here is that back in 2007, philosopher Mary Midgley published a pamphlet discussing creationism, intelligent design, education, and various related topics. Philosopher Nicholas Everitt has just published a critical review (subscription required) of Midgley’s pamphlet. Glenn…