Review: Merchants of Doubt

This review will deal with both the book and the documentary based on it. The book was written by two historians of science Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University and Erik M. Conway and was published in 2010, while the documentary was directed by Robert Kenner and released in 2014 and has just been released on DVD. I can strongly recommend both. The book is very clearly written and makes a compelling case for the authors’ thesis. Although the documentary is based on the book, its emphasis is different (dealing mostly with the climate change debate) and provides new information that is not in the book. Here’s the trailer.
[Read more…]

When your car gets hijacked by remote hackers

Cars are now sophisticated computers on wheels. The technological improvements have enabled them to approach the point that they may be able to drive themselves. But that means that, like any computer, they are also now vulnerable to hacks by people who can break into those computer systems and take control of the car out of the driver’s hands and operate it remotely.
[Read more…]

2014 was the hottest year on record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 2014 was the warmest year on record.

In 2014, the most essential indicators of Earth’s changing climate continued to reflect trends of a warming planet, with several markers such as rising land and ocean temperature, sea levels and greenhouse gases ─ setting new records.

The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from 413 scientists from 58 countries around the world.

The report’s climate indicators show patterns, changes and trends of the global climate system. Examples of the indicators include various types of greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. The indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.

[Read more…]

Whistleblower of APA complicity in torture vindicated

Jean Maria Arrigo is a 71-year old psychologist who for nearly a decade tried to expose the complicity of the American Psychological Association in the Bush administration’s torture program and for her pains was subjected to a campaign of harassment by leading officials of the APA, often done behind closed doors, and had her warnings treated with indifference by the bulk of the membership.
[Read more…]

Twins switched at birth

There was a 1970 comedy called Start the Revolution Without Me. It took place during the period prior to the French revolution and begins with two very pregnant women, one a rich noblewoman and the other a poor peasant, who take shelter in a rural inn during a storm. They both deliver identical male twins but the local doctor who does the deliveries was either drunk or just otherwise doddering (I forget now) and mixes up the twins.
[Read more…]

Psychologists guilty of torture abuse

In May of this year, three Stephen Soldz (clinical psychologist and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis), Steven Reisner (clinical psychologist and founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology), and Nathaniel Raymond (director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the former director of the campaign against torture at Physicians for Human Rights) issued a report that was highly critical of the complicity of the American Psychological Association in the torture practices of the Bush administration, providing it with the cover to claim that what it did was legal and ethical.
[Read more…]

Other people judge our likeness better than we do

We have all experienced the situation when we see a photograph of ourselves and are appalled. Surely we can’t look as bad as that? When we see ourselves in the mirror we think we look much better so conclude that the photograph must be introducing distortions or just happened to catch us at the wrong moment. Other people who look at the photograph rarely seem to share our opinion that it is not a good likeness but we can dismiss that by saying that of course they do not know us as well as we know ourselves.
[Read more…]