No Room for Atheists at the Conservative Inn

silverman face

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is on the horizon, and, not 24 hours after the American Atheists announce that they'd registered for a booth, they were unceremoniously ejected by the organizers.  Over at my day job, I interviewed both Dave Silverman, head of the American Atheists, and Edwina Rogers, leader of the Secular Coalition for America.  They're both self-described conservatives, and they talked about why atheists should want to reach out to conservatives and vice … [Read more...]

Mammograms, University Lapses, and the Limits of Big Data

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Over at my day job, I've gotten to write about two of my major hobbyhorses recently.  First in "Did We Mess Up on Mammograms?" I got to gloss the big study on the efficacy of breast cancer screening, nerd out about history/philosophy of medicine, and design an infographic. While we remain torn between the old recommendation and the new, it’s tempting to stick which the more interventionist option. Doctors and patients would like the comfort of knowing they did something even if what they … [Read more...]

Overconfidence in Our Employment Models

…for Seventeenth Week ending 30th April 1908

Due to travel and college debate reunions that kept us on the floor until past 2am, the Pope Francis bookclub post is prorogued until tomorrow. My last two posts at The American Conservative have both been about the limitation of our ability to model the world, mathematically or otherwise, and how to be mindful of the gaps.  First off, I have "Stop Hiding Behind the CBO" kvetching about the attempts of politicians on both sides to use descriptive data to avoid spelling out their normative … [Read more...]

Who Needs Literature for Problem Solving?

back of classroom

When I was watching the State of the Union last week, one of the lines in the education section rubbed me the wrong way, and I'm blogging on the topic at AmCon today: In his State of the Union last week, President Obama talked a little about how he wants to improve the education system, but his most revealing line might have been where he listed the subjects he thinks our schools should be teaching: Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big … [Read more...]

Here’s your job. Don’t get too comfortable.

home-sweet-cubicle

I really enjoyed the article in Jacobin Magazine on the hidden (and harmful) assumption of the exhortation to Do What You Love, and I've expanded a little on their analysis for AmCon.  You also may get a sense of one way I was ill-suited to San Francisco culture (aside from not enjoying being relaxed).  Here's a teaser from my essay: "Don't Love Your Job. Love People" Instead of going out into the world and building the rest of their lives, employees are encouraged to find a way to adapt … [Read more...]

For Now We Kill As Through A Glass, Darkly

lethal-injection

Meanwhile. over at AmCon, I have a piece on the botched execution in Ohio, where the error not have been inflicting pain, but in failing to hide that suffering from the spectators.  Here's a teaser: There’s no mystery as to why Ohio found itself running low on the traditional three-drug lethal injections. Many of the components of the cocktail are manufactured outside the United States and several international companies have refused to allow their drugs to be shipped to the United … [Read more...]

Lies, Spies, and Soft Paternalists

amcon burke

I've wrapped up my second week at my new job, and I wanted to give you guys links and précis* of the pieces I've been writing over there.   A Guide to Lies, Significant Lies, and Statistics Yup, only waited til post number two to start being aggressively nerdy at the new gig. Ultimately, the peer-reviewed journal system is, to paraphrase Churchill, the worst approach to understanding the world, except for all the others that have been tried. When we make an idol of empiricism, any … [Read more...]


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