When has a book in one field helped you in a seemingly unrelated one?

quantum computing

I've just finished Scott Aaronson's Quantum Computing Since Democritus this week (making a list of the books I wanted to read has really helped me prioritize them!), and I'd like all of your help in prepping what's going to be a segment I do on it this week for my radio show.Quantum Computing Since Democritus falls into the same category for me as Flatland -- it's a book about a technical field, where most of the benefit I get out of reading it is not the increased knowledge of/mastery of … [Read more...]

I’m speaking on “Openness to Truth” in San Fran, Feb 2nd

(St. Dominic's Church by David Yu)

I'm pleased to announce that, on Monday, February 2nd at 7:30pm, I'll be speaking at the very beautiful St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco.I'll be tackling the topic "Cultivating Openness to Truth" and discussing ways to make it easier for an opponent (or you!) to have the chance to notice that s/he is in error.  (And I'll be giving some examples from my own life and conversion story).The talk plus Q&A (heavy on the latter) will take place in St. Dominic's Parish Hall (2390 Bush S … [Read more...]

Wrong Identities, Chosen and Imposed [Radio Readings]

("Conic Sections" by http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Magister_Mathematicae - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Secciones_c%C3%B3nicas.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Conic_Sections.svg#mediaviewer/File:Conic_Sections.svg)

You’ll be able to catch “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm.  And the audio this week is already up at the archive page!Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, articles, songs, (and, this week, mathematical figures!) that I cite on the show.  So, without further ado, here’s what I’m talking about this week.  Letting your "enemy" define your identity  "The Case for C … [Read more...]

7QT: Terrifying Fish, Lightning-Quick Archers (and some cussin’)


Two housekeeping notes: you can still vote for me in the "Smartest Blog" category in the Sheenazing Awards, and my weekly radio show will be streaming tomorrow at 5pm and again on Sunday at 1pm, --- 1 --- Folks, this archery video (found via Deadspin) has made my day.  Based on nerdy examination of historical art of archers, Lars Anderson overhauled his shooting technique and, well, let me let Deadspin summarize, since I prefer only to swear in direct quotations: What if I told you that the … [Read more...]

When Discerning, Fewer Relationships are “Failed” Ones

(image from SceneSisters)

Ilana Yurkiewicz explained, as a doctor, how she has to make an active effort to avoid learning callousness from the occasional deceptions of her patients.  Meanwhile, in the Federalist, Teresa Mull is tackling a similar problem in modern dating.  She's worried about the danger of being emotionally overextended, and would like to see folks engage in fewer high-turnover, emotionally-intense assignations. The practice of bonding and staying close until one partner arbitrarily changes his or her mi … [Read more...]

Holy Fools Against the Mini-Maxers

"Matejko Stańczyk" by Jan Matejko - cyfrowe.mnw.art.pl. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My friend Ilana Yurkiewicz is an excellent doctoring blogger, and I particularly appreciated one of her recent essays, "What's so healthy about skepticism?"  Her post about being deceived by a patient and deciding what lessons to learn from the encounter is excellent.  I'll blockquote a small bit here, but you should pop over and read the whole thing: I had been deceived before, both in and out of the hospital walls. But it never bothered me as much as did then. There was something about how he … [Read more...]

Using Abortion Debates to Explain Bayesian Statistics

(cc from Wikipedia)

I'm never one to pass up a chance to leverage people's interest in a hot-button social issue to talk about probability theory.  I'm over at Ethika Politika today, talking about how base-rate neglect can skew people's understanding of the significance of screening test (specifically, those for fetal abnormalities)A New Danger to Expecting Mothers: Statistical Illiteracy Abortion, the talking point goes, is a private matter between a woman and her doctor.  But, after a series of missteps by c … [Read more...]