Last 24 Hours

Andrew Revkin has this commentary at the New York Times: How ‘Warmest Ever’ Headlines and Debates Can Obscure What Matters About Climate Change. I will argue below that Revkin has, inadvertently or not, linked a science denialist trope to the important scientific finding that 2014 is the warmest year on record, as part of his…

In the wake of antivaccine-pandering pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears’ attempt to paint the measles as no big deal, so much so that it totally escaped his notice that it might not be a bad idea to recommend that the unvaccinated get the MMR vaccine in the midst of an outbreak, the bad news about the…

They absolutely refuse to touch themselves.

“Even when Darwin’s teaching first made its appearance, it became clear at once that its scientific, materialist core, its teaching concerning the evolution of living nature, was antagonistic to the idealism that reigned in biology.” -Trofim Lysenko We love having debates when there’s a disagreement. When there are multiple competing explanations for an effect, multiple…

The Meaning of Life

I’m not in the mood for heavy blogging just now, so how about we discuss something light and frivolous. Like the meaning of life. Back in July, I wrote this: Answers about our origins have no implications at all for questions of meaning and value. Arising through blind, uncaring forces in no way implies that…

As more research is emerging on the potential health effects of fracking, a new study — perhaps the largest to date of its kind — has found that people living near natural gas wells may be at increased risk for adverse health impacts, including skin and respiratory conditions.

The Serengeti Strategy

What is the Serengeti Strategy? “The Serengeti Strategy” is a term coined by climate scientist Michael Mann in which “special interests faced with adverse scientific evidence … target individual scientists rather than take on an entire scientific field at once.” His invention of the analogy must have been an interesting moment, given the context. In…

Gas prices have fallen to nearly half (or more depending on your starting point) in recent months. Therefore, according to Jevons Paradox, which does indeed appear to exist sans apostrophe, use of gas should have gone up. It did, but only by 1%. So, we are not impressed with Jevons paradox.

Hiring Completed

Having made several mentions here of the two tenure-track faculty positions we were trying to fill, I feel like I ought to at least note the completion of the search. As of last Friday, all the papers have been signed with properly dotted i’s and crossed t’s, and we have two new tenure-track assistant professors…

… with graphics, provided by the White House:

Poor, poor, pitiful Dr. Bob. For those of you not familiar with him, I’m referring, of course, to Robert “Dr. Bob” Sears, MD, the antivaccine-sympathetic (or, more appropriately, antivaccine-pandering) pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, CA (between Los Angeles and San Diego in Orange County) known for his Vaccine Book, a veritable font of antivaccine misinformation gussied…

The slow dance that made you (Synopsis)

“It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man!” -George Gamow But how was it that this happened? Sure, the Universe may have started off with hydrogen and helium alone, but when we look around at…

I watched the State of the Union Address, and it was great. Not nearly enough on climate change, but otherwise it was great. I did not watch the response. I heard it was not great. But then Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones asked on twitter if they, the responses, are ever great. So I went…

Sex differences in sleep apnea

I came across an interesting study published last month in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a disorder in which the upper airway is repeatedly obstructed during sleep resulting in bouts of intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen concentrations). I had no idea that OSA is…

These go up to 11

Shamelessly stolen from ATTP’s “More than half” is the same as “> 50%”!, but I think this captures brilliantly a typical argument with the “skeptics”: TPP has a link to the interesting story of Alfred Russel Wallace‘s bet with the flat-earthers that the Earth was, in fact, not flat. Somehow, that seems relevant. While I’m…