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27 April 2017

Identifying logical fallacies and scientific misdirection in a CO2 video

A quick exercise in deconstructing the argument of a “elevated CO2 is good” video on YouTube by identifying its logical fallacies. Pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn, and join us in the critique!

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24 April 2017

The bizarre world wherein we march for science

The bizarre world wherein we march for science

I marched on Saturday. In spite of the congested conditions in both the local atmosphere and my sinuses, I felt compelled to add my voice and presence to the March for Science, an event that was probably the first of its kind since the Enlightenment, aiming to push back against anti-science attitudes from the current occupant of the White House and his contemporaries on Capitol Hill. I tried to keep …

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6 March 2017

Our Final Invention, by James Barrat

Our Final Invention, by James Barrat

I am concerned about artificial general intelligence (AGI) and its likely rapid successor, artificial superintelligence (ASI). I have written here previously about that topic, after reading Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence. I have just finished another book on that topic, Our Final Invention, by James Barrat. I think it’s actually a better introduction to the topic than Bostrom, because it’s written in a more journalistic, less academic style. Most chapters read …

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28 February 2017

Unscientific America, by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum

Unscientific America, by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum

This is the second of the books about science communication / science in society that I’ve been meaning to read for years but never gotten around to. (The first was Randy Olson’s.) I’m now motivated to read them in light of the dramatic switch in the governance of my country, in hopes of gleaning lessons that will allow me to effectively promulgate reason and evidence-based decision making. The book documents …

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15 February 2017

Don’t Be *Such* a Scientist, by Randy Olson

Don't Be *Such* a Scientist, by Randy Olson

With the current political climate being what it is, I’m newly motivated to learn the best way to communicate science with the American public. I’ve decided to read several books on the topic that I’ve been aware of for years, but not yet made time for. The first is Randy Olson’s Don’t Be *Such* a Scientist. Olson has a unique perspective to apply to the question: he was a tenured …

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31 January 2017

Three kids’ books

Three kids' books

Cosmology, evolution, and ethics for the four-year old set? It can be done! Join Callan for a brief review of three excellent books for children.

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24 January 2017

Science policy in the Trumpocene

It looks like the Trump Administration is going to be tough on science. We all suspected that, but since Friday’s inauguration (now proclaimed by the new president as a “Day of Patriotic Devotion,” seriously taking a page from North Korea), there have been several incidents that raise serious, serious concerns. I’ve not been shy about expressing my upset and disdain on social media, though I worry that speaking honestly about …

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20 January 2017

Friday fooled

It’s Friday, time for a … discussion of the role of misinformation in the modern media landscape and civil society? Yep, no fold this week, folks.
In honor of the Inauguration, it’s our first ever Friday Fooled.

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15 November 2016

Hate trumps love; Ideology trumps science

It’s been a week since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the race for the President of the United States. I’ve been processing the news, and I’m not happy about it. I’ve been on “radio silence” for a week, mourning, ruminating, fretting. From my perspective, this is one of the most disturbing developments in the history of my country since the Civil War, since the McCarthy hearings, and since the …

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24 September 2016

The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby

The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby

I probably should have read this book eight years ago when it was first published, but somehow I missed it then. I recently heard the author, Susan Jacoby, on the podcast Point of Inquiry, and was impressed at the cannon of works she had produced. The current U.S. election cycle has spurred me to think more than I usually do about what constitutes rational thought, and why it seems to …

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