Fox News at the Reason Rally

Via The Digital Cuttlefish I found a video that Bill O’Reilly’s show shot of the Reason Rally. It is a bit disjointed with some weird cross-cutting but not too bad. The people they interviewed were pretty articulate and gave a good account of themselves. This means that either O’Reilly’s team did not go too far out of its way to selectively edit the footage to make the rallyers look bad or that they simply were not able to get video to allow them to portray atheists as crazy people.

The problem with scientific replications

One of the tenets of science is that the results be reproducible. One consequence of this maxim is that any paper that is published should have sufficient information that would enable anyone who wishes to do so to replicate the results. But there is no real incentive for people to try and replicate the work of others. It takes a lot of time and effort and one cannot publish a confirmation of someone else’s result unless the original result was so revolutionary that supportive evidence is called for. The cold fusion and the faster-than-light neutrino stories were examples of such high-profile cases. [Read more...]

Being cautious with police

In a previous post, I mentioned how one needs to be very cautious in how one responds to police requests for information, unless it is clear that you are being called upon as a mere witness, say of an accident. If there is the slightest chance that you may be a possible target, then you should invoke the Fifth Amendment and get a lawyer. It is not that you should never cooperate because after all the police need the assistance of law-abiding people to solve crimes. But you usually have plenty of time to do so. There is nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost by being in a hurry to be helpful. [Read more...]

Why do we jump to conclusions? The Trayvon Martin case

Although I have been sort-of following the news of the shooting of the teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida (who can avoid it?), I have not written anything about it so far. Part of the reason is that there does not seem to be much point in adding my voice to a case that so dominates the media and for which I have no information to contribute. [Read more...]

Earl Scruggs, 1924-2012

Earl Scruggs died yesterday.

I am not that knowledgeable about bluegrass music but love its sheer joyful sound. In this performance of Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Scruggs and friends (which was featured in the film Bonnie and Clyde), you get to see a range of virtuoso performances from a range of musicians, including Steve Martin and others whom I do not recognize. Anyone able to fill in the names of the others?

Beautiful.

A dilemma for liberal religionists

If someone says to you “I am a Christian”, where do you think they are likely to fall on the political and social spectrum?

It used to be that people who called themselves Christians could not be that easily pinned down as to their social and political and moral attitudes because they could span a wide range of viewpoints, from extremely liberal to rigidly conservative. But in an article in The New Republic, Timothy Noah argues that things have changed, and that the label Christian has been increasingly co-opted by one narrow faction, and the media is going along with it. [Read more...]