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27 April 2017

1984, by George Orwell

My latest book review is of a cutting-edge new novel that describes our current political dystopia in excruciating detail…                                         Just kidding! Seriously: I was spurred to re-read Orwell”s 1984 after last November’s election, and the counterfactual customs of our new commander in chief. ‘Alternative facts’ have many precedents in history, but perhaps …

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24 April 2017

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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31 January 2017

Bucking the trend

It has been a stressful few days for the United States of America. Our President enacted a ban on people entering the country from several Muslim-majority countries, and it triggered confusion and protests at several international airports. A federal judge imposed a stay on the order, and yet Customs and Border Protection agents at Dulles Airport refused to abide, siding with the president instead. As Northern Virginia Representative Don Beyer …

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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

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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21 January 2014

Virginia House Bill 207: encouraging pseudoscience is a bad idea

I was first alerted to the proposal of a new bill in the Virginia House of Delegates last Wednesday by a colleague at James Madison University, Eric Pyle. Eric and I serve as state Councilors for the state of Virginia in the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. As such, we are sincerely concerned about any policy that would weaken science education in the Old Dominion, in particular when it comes …

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15 May 2013

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

The week before last, on the flight home from Texas, I finished reading Dark Star Safari, Paul Theroux’s 2004 account of traveling overland through Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. I’ve enjoyed Theroux’s traveling writing very much over the years, and although he’s written some great novels (I’m thinking of Mosquito Coast), most of them don’t appeal to me as much as the travelogues do. I’ve been reading a lot …

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