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It’s finals week around here. Over the last two days I have graded just over a thousand calculus problems (many of them, let’s face it, not worked out properly). So let’s unwind with lighter fare tonight. There are plenty of books and websites explaining the basics of scientific thinking. Riveting reading, certainly, but as a…

Still More On the Problem of Evil

After posting this essay about skeptical theism last week, Michael Egnor showed up in the comments to heckle me. Egnor, if you are unfamiliar with him, is a blogger for the Discovery Institute, which does not bode well for the merits of his comment. He opened his remarks sensibly enough by conceding both that evil…

Mary’s Room

Philosophy is chock-full of fantastical thought experiments. Sometimes, though, the scenario we’re asked to imagine is so fantastical that it undermines the point of the experiment. From my perspective, the “Mary’s Room” experiment is one such. This thought experiment was proposed by Frank Jackson in 1982, though the basic idea for it has a far…

Teaching Calculus

Friday was the last day of classes for the fall semester. We have finals this week. Then, a big pile of grading. Yuck! But then, winter break. Yay! This semester I taught three sections of calculus. More specifically, I taught our first semester calculus course intended for students with weaker mathematical backgrounds. Essentially, we stretch…

Sunday Chess Problem

This is the first of what I hope to make a regular feature here at EvolutionBlog: A chess problem for Sunday. By “chess problem” I do not mean the sort of thing where I show you a position from an actual game and ask you to find the best line of play for one side…

Some Light Reading for Saturday

Over at HuffPo, Jeff Schweitzer serves up a cri de couer against religion. He writes: Many factors have brought us to this sad state of affairs, but we can no longer ignore the 600 pound gorilla and trumpeting elephants in the room: religion is killing us. While our kids are being taught that god created…

Around here it’s the last day of classes for the fall semester. Yay! So how about we mark the occasion with some math humor. Over at HuffPo, math teacher Ben Orlin contrasts actual headlines with what they would say if people were more mathematically savvy. Some examples: Our World: Market Rebounds after Assurances from Fed…

A Quick Note on Skeptical Theism

Rereading my post from Monday, I see there was one aspect of Vincent Torley’s post that I neglected to address. Recall that Torley was at pains to explain why God might be innocent of the charge of hypocrisy, for demanding that we behave in ways that He does not Himself practice. Torley made two suggestions…

In Tuesday’s post I started discussing this essay (PDF format), by mathematician Doron Zeilberger. I wholeheartedly seconded the sentiments from the first part of the essay, in which he lamented the generally poor state of mathematical communication. But I’m a little skeptical of this part: The purpose of mathematical research should be the increase of…

Back in 2009, Chris Mooney, together with Sheril Kirshenbaum, wrote a book called Unscientific America. It purported to explain the origins of America’s current antipathy toward science, and to make suggestions for what we might do about it. It created something of a stir in the science blogosphere. I was one of many folks who…

Communicating Mathematics

In an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, published in July 2012, mathematician Edward Frenkel and school superintendent Robert Ross write: This Fourth of July will forever be remembered in the history of science as the day when the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced. The last remaining elementary particle among those…

Ye Olde Problem of Evil

Over at Uncommon Descent, Vincent Torley serves up a long post about the problem of evil. He was responding to this post by John Loftus, but Torley’s post can mostly be read independently of what Loftus wrote. I devote a chapter of Among the Creationists to the problem of evil. I open the chapter like…

We Have A New World Chess Champion!

Magnus Carlsen of Norway has won the big chess match against the defending champion Viswanathan Anand of India. This result was not surprising, though some were probably expecting Anand to put up more of a fight than he did. Only ten of the scheduled twelve games were played, with Carlsen winning three and the other…

But such exciting draws! Carlsen tried the Reti Opening again in Game Three, but this time got less than nothing. Anand was pressing for most of the game, though it seems that Carlsen always had enough counterplay to draw. The crucial moment is shown below: White’s queen is looking a bit sad, and it is…

The World Chess Championship!

I guess it’s been obvious for a while now that I’ve largely lost interest in blogging. It seems the last vestiges of my SIWOTI syndrome have abandoned me. I still read as much nonsense as ever, but whereas previously I would have rushed to the blog to vent, now I mostly just shrug. Still, I’m…