History/philosophy of science

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Category archives for History/philosophy of science

On the reading table lately

Been a while, so these cover a span of reading. I’m in the midst of my friend Adrienne Mayor’s The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, and can report that Mr. M is quite a poisonous but complicated handful — a dark and deadly echo of his hero and model,…

Eric Michael Johnson contemplates the hearts, minds, teeth, and claws of bonobos and other primates. Tara Smith explains why she’ll be getting her kids their (seasonal) flu vaccines. Revere does likewise Daniel Menaker, former honcho at Random House, defends the midlist. (Where was he when my book was getting so much push?) Just in case…

photo: Philip Todeldano for the New York Times Part of any real healthcare reform will be improving practices in hospitals, and — as Obama’s proposed commission on comparative effectiveness would do — identifying what works and what doesn’t. Knowing what works and why people get better or not is vital to good medicine. But amid…

Bloggingheads.tv just posted a conversation Greg Laden and I had about the second-biggest scientific controversy of Darwin’s time, and of Darwin’s life: the argument over how coral reefs form. The coral reef argument was fascinating in its own right, both scientifically and dramatically — for here a very capable andn conscientious scientist, Alexander Agassiz, struggled…

Greg Laden, trying to toss a line between the “New Atheists” and ‘Accommodationists” who are currently squabbling about a dust-up featuring PZ Myers v Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum (who apparently rough Myers up a bit in their book Unscientific America), writes: Now, I just want to make this point: I learned early on (when…

Much much much ado on the web this week, on the too-many fronts I try to visit. From my list of notables: Carl Zimmer, who clearly doesn’t sleep, writes up a nice post about a Nature paper announcing Limusaurus, a newly discovered fossil that is, Zimmer notes, is “not — I repeat NOT — the…

Kew Gardens (that is, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew) is trying to collect and bank the seeds and pollen from 10% of the world’s plants — a nice 21st-century continuation of the stunning collecting effort that started in the 1700s and helped supply evidence, via Joseph Dalton Hooker, that proved crucial to Darwin’s theory…

A few weeks ago, Matt Stevens, the National Guard captain and medic who served in Iraq and whom I mentioned in my Scientific American article, “The Post-Traumatic Stress Trap, wrote me an email about the social unease he often encountered when he showed any behavior that might remind people he had served in Iraq —…

“Faith” is a fine invention For gentlemen who see — But microscopes are prudent In an emergency. Emily Dickinson, poet (1830-1886) via A Word a Day, 3/17/09

Ezra Klein reviews Obama’s handling of yesterday’s health summit — a piece well worth reading for a taste of how sharply focused and serious Obama is about truly comprehensive health-care reform. Karen Tumlty, a health-care expert, describes in Time her own family’s grueling wrestling match with the health-insurance industry. A timely story — no pun…