November 1, 2018

Move over, debunkers. Latour is back, and the conspiracists are in trouble. The unlikely savior of science in the not so new millennium is Bruno Latour, the French philosopher infamous for “deconstructing” science with his sociological approach. Latour thinks the current controversies about climate change and vaccination are the predictable result of emphasizing the authority of science rather than its methodology. How Objectivity is Made In a New York Times article from last week, Ava Kofman interviews Latour and reviews… Read more

October 23, 2018

“I shiver with fear/Whenever I hear/Things that debunk in the night.” The weather hereabouts has turned colder, the trees are losing their leaves, and it’s getting to be late October. If anything is scarier than mid-term elections, it’s the coming of Halloween: gruesome costumes, ominous music, and ghost stories. Oh, and debunkers. It’s easier to escape from the clutches of an axe murderer or zombie, it seems, than to avoid articles like 5 Famous ‘Paranormal’ Phenomena (Easily Debunked By Science) by… Read more

October 18, 2018

RIP Mary Midgley, the British moral philosopher who was Dawkins’s most distinguished foe. What Is Knowledge For? Mary Midgley was an author and thinker whose work often dealt with the way we relate to scientific knowledge. Skeptical of dogmas both religious and secular, she celebrated ideas that expanded rather than circumscribed our conception of reality. Her obituary in the New York Times said: Dr. Midgley unhesitatingly challenged scientists like the entomologist Edward O. Wilson and the biologist, and noted atheist, Richard… Read more

October 9, 2018

The hoaxers are at it again. In case you don’t recall the Sokal Hoax of the 90s, physicist Allan Sokal submitted a paper to a cultural studies journal that turned out to be a parody of the way math-challenged academics mangle concepts in the field of physics. Since then it has become an annual tradition for someone in the science-fan community to quietly submit a hoax paper to a lefty journal, then cue the thunderous backslapping and triumphalist grandstanding if… Read more

October 4, 2018

There’s an algorithm for that? Really? Skeptics and humanists are good at attacking religious concepts of humanity, society and the universe, and describing the way these ideas dehumanize and denigrate us. But we should also be able to call out dehumanizing and dangerous rhetoric of the secular sort. I’m talking about the offhand way we use metaphors that compare us to machines. We also have a tendency to describe our modes of inquiry in technological terms, and talk about nature… Read more

September 28, 2018

Don’t confuse the brain with the self. I Am Not a Brain, declares the title of Markus Gabriel’s latest book. Gabriel is associated with the New Realism, and his preference for emphatic titles was evident in his previous work, The World Does Not Exist. However, Gabriel is no mere provocateur. In his lucid, subtle and witty essays, he persuades the reader to think about things in a new way. Brain Brain Go Away In his latest work, Gabriel takes aim… Read more

September 20, 2018

Those Frenchies tried to warn us that the Truth isn’t what we think it is. But did we listen? As the story of recent history goes, Reality and Truth were doing just fine until the 60s, when postmodernists and feminists messed it all up. Then everybody started to argue about what Truth is, Trump got elected, and now Truth doesn’t matter anymore. The moral is that if we had just kept believing what we know to be Truth in the first place, we… Read more

September 17, 2018

Is Nike’s Kaepernick ad a political statement or exploitation? The mayor of Kenner, Louisiana, recently had a change of heart concerning his week-old Nike ban, which would have prohibited booster clubs that operate out of Kenner athletic facilities from purchasing Nike products. After declaring the ban on September 5th, mayor Ben Zahn faced a public backlash as well as opposition from the ACLU and politicians from the city to the federal level: Zahn’s directive essentially forbade spending of public money or booster… Read more

September 12, 2018

We don’t “follow the evidence where it leads,” we only define it as evidence if it’s going our way in the first place! I’m not the savviest person when it comes to Internet buzzwords, so I only recently heard what Sea lioning means. According to Know Your Meme , Sea-Lioning is an Internet slang term referring to intrusive attempts at engaging an unwilling debate opponent by feigning civility and incessantly requesting evidence to back up their claims. Where’s Your Evidence?… Read more

September 5, 2018

Are scientific theories useful because they’re true? Or do we only consider them true if they’re useful? A recent find at the Harvard Book Store’s warehouse sale was Physical Theory: Method and Interpretation, a compilation of essays by philosophers of science edited by Lawrence Sklar. One of the essays, by University of California at Irvine philosopher P. Kyle Stanford, concerns the different ways scientific theories, and theory itself, is interpreted. In “Reading Nature,” Stanford investigates the development of two opposing… Read more

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