science

Evolving Thoughts

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The custom of making abstract dogmatic assertions is not, certainly, derived from the teaching of Jesus, but has been a widespread weakness among religious teachers in subsequent centuries. I do not think that the word for the Christian virtue of faith should be prostituted to mean the credulous acceptance of all such piously intended assertions.…

It is often the case that when non-academics, or even non-humanities academics, talk about my generic field, they refer to it as “arts”, and mean by this the creative arts, like performing arts, crafts, and corporate accounting. So they justify the funding for the “arts” (or “the yartz”, as a Barry Humpries character calls them)…

Homeopathy kills too

Hard on the heels of the recent media coverage (well done Channel 7!) of the death of a child from Whooping Cough due to antivaccination sentiments in Australia, comes the death of an infant due to homeopathy. The father is a homeopathy quack, and instead of treating his child’s eczema with traditional creams, he allowed…

Suppose you have a religion and are interested in science. Do you a. Have to give up your religion b. Have to abandon your effort to find out about the natural world through science c. Try to find some accommodation? Now suppose you are a member of a scientific body, and want to suggest to…

On epigenetics

Here is an interesting discussion of a recent paper on the operational and theoretical definitions of “epigenetics”. This term – which has a deep history, well before genetics – is interpreted in every manner from inherited histone patterns on chromosomes to parental investment and extrasomatic inheritance. The authors of the discussed paper go towards the…

There are a lot of folk who think they have a handle on how to communicate science to the general public, and a lot of folk, mostly scientists, who think nobody else does. But I was reading Carl Zimmer’s twittering today, about Rebecca Skoot getting a column gig for a new magazine devoted to issues…

Laws, theories and models

A 6th grade maths and science teacher emailed me about whether theories could become laws. Below the fold is his request and my reply. The short answer is that when laws grow up, they become theories, not the other way around.