The famous crocodile jump in Live and Let Die

One of the recurring features of James Bond films is how the villains devise increasingly outlandish schemes to kill him. If you have seen the 1973 film Live and Let Die which I reviewed here, you will recall the scene in which he is left standing on a tiny island surrounded by a moat containing crocodiles who can easily climb onto the island. The villains then leave him, presumably because they have other pressing things to do like iron their socks or something, and so miss Bond escaping by using three crocodiles as stepping stones, running over them to get to the safety of the other bank. [Read more...]

Distinguishing real science from fake science

One of the remarkable things about science is that it works. It produces results that are repeatable, testable, and useful. So what is it about this enterprise that we call science that makes it so successful? Philosophers and historians of science have struggled for over a century to answer this question and the related question of how to distinguish science from non-science (the well-known ‘demarcation problem’), and have basically come up empty. [Read more...]

Is the US is a center-right country?

It has long been a mantra, especially in the media, that the US is fundamentally a center-right country. This assertion is routinely made by conservatives, who argue that any policy that is ostensibly liberal is going against this consensus and should be viewed as an aberration, and that Democratic electoral wins are statistical fluctuations that do not change this underlying reality. But is this statement true? [Read more...]