Terrorists? We ain’t afraid of no stinkin’ terrorists!

As Paul Waldman writes, it is almost inevitable that some person who is angered by what is happening in the middle east will be inspired by ISIS/ISIL or whatever the terror group du jour is, to get a gun and shoot up a crowd somewhere in the US. Then instead of treating it as just another mass shooting of the kind that has become routine, the terrorist connection will cause everyone to flip out and hide under their beds and demand that the government do something so that they can come out.
[Read more...]

Superstition and science

Well, Thursday came and went with absolutely none of the goodies arriving for me as promised by astrologer Susan Miller. I did not get a “big professional victory” nor a “surprising influx of unexpected cash” (can something be surprising and expected?). Of course, I did not “help things along” by doing the things she recommended such as arranging for a “big presentation, interview, or other major career event” nor did I launch a “new website or send out a press release on a recent victory”, so it may have been all my fault. I suspect that this is how believers in astrology rationalize when things fail to materialize.
[Read more...]

We’re doomed

It is astonishing to me that the US, which owes a lot of its dominance in the world to the science and technology that it produces, has on its main policy-setting body, the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, people who seem to be determined to undermine the very things that the nation depends upon. They may do this for a variety of reasons: venality because of the people who give them money, stupidity, or religious fanaticism but the end result is the same.
[Read more...]

Cell phone addiction

It is a stereotype of the current college generation that they are addicted to their cell phones. A couple of professors at Baylor University decided to ask students enrolled in their class to fill out an online survey about the amount of their cell-phone use in 24 different categories to see the degree of cell phone addiction and any gender differences, where an addiction was defined as “the repeated use of a substance despite the negative consequences suffered by the addicted individual”.
[Read more...]

Shift in the climate change zeitgeist

There has been long-standing opposition in the US to recognizing that anthropogenic climate change is a real phenomenon and needs to be taken seriously, with great efforts taken to discredit the research. The opponents have taken strength from the fact that religious ideas are strong in the US and a significant segment of the population are science skeptics and willing, even eager, to repudiate the conclusions and recommendations of the scientific community, even promoting cranks like Christopher Monckton, who was beautifully made fun of by an Australian TV show.
[Read more...]

When religious beliefs and medical needs collide

Judges have a difficult job. Author Ian McEwan has a long piece where he looks at cases in the UK where the law intersected with religious beliefs. He focuses on the decisions by one appeals court judge Sir Alan Ward who seems to be a remarkably humane and thoughtful judge and how he handled two cases where he had to go against the beliefs of families and the religious institutions they belonged to.
[Read more...]