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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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1 March 2016

How to Clone a Mammoth, by Beth Shapiro

How to Clone a Mammoth, by Beth Shapiro

I just finished an interesting book with a provocative title. How to Clone a Mammoth, by Beth Shapiro, is a readable, sober assessment of de-extinction, the idea of bringing back extinct species through a variety of techniques. She defines very clearly at the outset that the purpose of de-extinction is ecological – to restore critical / desired organism/organism or organism/abiotic environment interactions in ecosystems. It is, in other words, a …

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6 February 2016

The Story of Western Science, by Susan Wise Bauer

The Story of Western Science, by Susan Wise Bauer

I have a great book to recommend today – a book that takes a “Great Books” approach to tracking the advance of western science through history. The book is called, straightforwardly, The Story of Western Science. Its author is Susan Wise Bauer, who writes with a confident erudition and a clear, solid style. She surveys key works in the literature that illustrate the development of scientific thought – all of …

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23 November 2015

Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

At first, I thought the titular Seveneves referred to fragments of the Moon. It blows up on the first page of the novel – or disaggregates anyhow, into seven big chunks. But these start knocking into one another, breaking off smaller pieces, and these bang into each other, making more pieces. Soon, there are a lot of pieces. Spoilers galore follow, as I feel obligated to outline the scope of …

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9 November 2015

The final days of sub-400 ppm carbon dioxide

The final days of sub-400 ppm carbon dioxide

This is probably the last week our planet’s atmosphere will have less than 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. When are we going to stop letting this heat-trapping waste gas pile up in our home?

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