History/philosophy of science

Neuron Culture

Category archives for History/philosophy of science

Below, the “jugum penis,” designed to prevent “nocturnal lincontinence” (aka masturbation). One of many wonders in a new London Science Museum online exhibit of historical medical objects called “Brought to Life,” as featured in this New Scientist photo essay. Don’t try these at home.

I drove up to Montreal yesterday, and amid visits with anthropologist and Somatosphere founder Eugene Raikhel, anthropologist Allan Young, and Suparna Choudhury, talked about (among other things) the emerging new area of study they’re calling “critical neuroscience.” What the heck is critical neuroscience? Well, one definition calls it the attempt to assess and inform neuroscientific…

Despite the rain on my window, it’s a fine day indeed, with many wonderful celebrations of Darwin’s 200th ringing throughout the blogoshere. Most of these, naturally, focus on Darwin’s theory of evolution and its many implications and reverberations. I much admire that theory. But what I find most fascinating about Darwin is not his theory…

“Science found wanting in nation’s crime labs,” says the headline at the NY Times, which ran one of many stories on the upcoming National Academy of Sciences report on forensic science. This kind of front-page attention is long overdue, as shabby science that claims to be infallible has jailed many an innocent (and probably freed…

A coral atoll, from Darwin’s The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, 1842. For those teeming millions near Hanover, N.H., here’s notice that I’ll be giving a talk at Dartmouth at 4pm today — Thu, Feb 5 — about Darwin’s first, favorite, and (to me) most interesting theory, which was his theory about how coral…

Rolling deadlines have kept me from the blogging desk, but I can occupy it long enough now to call out a few items that either haven’t received as much coverage as they might have — or that have gotten several interesting hits. • At Huffpost, Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee offer the FDA a three-step…

The good folks at Neuroanthropology drew my attention to a pair of videos showing how chimpanzees work together to corral, kill, and then eat colubus monkeys. Amazing stuff. The embedded video below shows a hunt from the rather chaotic point of view of cameramen chasing the chase at jungle-floor level. Impressive enough in itself: Even…

Surgeon, attributed to Jan Sanders van Hemessen, c. 1550. Museo del Prado, Madrid Over at Biophemera, a ScienceBlog I’ve somehow overlooked to date, biologist and artist Jessica Palmer ponders a question raised by a number of Renaissance paintings depicting surgeons removing “stones of madness” from patients’s skulls: Did surgeons (or quacks) sham these operations? It’s…

This one’s causing a dust-up over at the Scientific American’s “60-Second Science” blog Measles is back, and it’s because your kids aren’t vaccinatedDavid Biello If you didn’t vaccinate your kids, you too could find yourself partly responsible for the resurgence of a disease thought eliminated in 2000. Measles—a highly contagious disease-causing virus—is making a comeback…

Some great stuff I’ve come across, lack time to blog on, but would hate for you to miss: In On being certain, neurologist and novelist Robert Burton, who writes a column at Slate Salon, looks at the science of what makes us feel certain about things — even when we’re dead wrong about them. His…