Word of the Day: Russell’s Teapot

Before the Flying Spaghetti Monster, before the Invisible Pink Unicorn, was Bertrand Russell’s orbiting teapot. This is the classic thought experiment that exercises our ability to distinguish the plausibly real from the merely unfalsifiable. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Shibboleth

This interesting Hebrew word means “torrent of water.” But that’s not what it really means. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Cottingley Fairies

Though close to a century old, this hoax has lessons that remain valid today. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Public Square

This term has two meanings, and politicians (deliberately?) conflate them to imagine a problem where none exists. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Genetic and Ad Hominem Fallacies

Of all the logical fallacies, these are some of the most common. But be careful to understand these well enough to avoid making a false charge of fallacy. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Argument from Authority (and How Consensus Fits In)

The claim “That’s an Argument from Authority Fallacy!” is common. But when is it actually a fallacy? And when can the Argument from Authority be valid? [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Survival of the Fittest

This phrase wasn’t in Darwin’s original edition and is often misunderstood. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Bronze Age Collapse

The medieval Dark Ages in Europe aren’t history’s only dark ages. The great civilizations of the Ancient Near East mysteriously collapsed about 3200 years ago. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Confirmation Bias

We all do it—we sift through the deluge of data that surrounds us and pick a tiny subset to pay attention to. The mind is tuned to select evidence that confirms our preconceptions, and this is confirmation bias. [Read more…]

Word of the Day: Theory and Law

Saying “Evolution is just a theory” is like saying “He only won the Nobel Peace Prize.” In science, a theory is as good as it gets. Evolution deniers in particular often get this wrong. Let’s review “theory,” “law,” and similar components of scientific conclusions to make sure they’re used correctly. [Read more…]