August 30, 2018

How faith in technology harms women. Breast cancer awareness is a good thing, but studies continue to cast doubt on the assertion that the benefits of routine mammograms for healthy women outweigh the risks. At The Conversation, Anne Kearney, Associate Professor of Nursing at Memorial University in Newfoundland, is emphatic when she states, “there is no reliable evidence that routine mammograms for healthy women save lives.” Cruel Irony: Cancer-Causing Cancer Screening The problems Kearney lists have to do with the process of mammography as well… Read more

August 16, 2018

Cosmic Skeptic’s take on morality is so far past wrong it couldn’t afford an Uber back to wrong. Poor Alex O’Connor. YouTube’s fresh-faced Cosmic Skeptic doesn’t seem to have gotten to the philosophy part of his university curriculum, to judge by the way he botches moral philosophy in his videos. Tinker Toy Philosophy Since the only living philosopher that Alex has ever, to my knowledge, mentioned in his videos is Christian apologist William Lane Craig, it’s not surprising that Alex… Read more

August 14, 2018

The scientific consensus on what happened to the dinosaurs is going the way of the dinosaur! For decades now, the scientific consensus has been that the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago when an asteroid struck the Earth. The Atlantic just published an article called “The Nastiest Feud in Science” that interviews some of the dissenters from that consensus. For all I know, the article may be overstating the significance of the challenge from proponents of the theory that volcanic activity… Read more

August 8, 2018

Reality check: The world does not exist! Realism used to be the conventional corner of analytic philosophy where thinkers argued about the prospects for and problems with reality. What can we say is real? Is there a mind-independent reality, separate from the conceptual schemes we use to study and define it? The Truth About Realism As a card-carrying social constructivist, I’ve always looked at such questions wearing a pragmatist’s sneer. What’s the point of making pronouncements about reality, says the constructivist, when… Read more

August 6, 2018

If we’re going to praise scientific progress for its contributions to civilization, we should recognize the downside too. Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. In 1945, tens of thousands of Japanese died from the blast of the uranium device, deployed by the Allies against the last holdout of the Axis powers in World War Two. The development and use of the atomic bomb provide a lot of lessons on the status of science as a social… Read more

July 27, 2018

Folklore for Friday: what does this folk tale say about the nature of inquiry? I saw this cartoon yesterday in a discussion about science and Theories of Everything, and found it very appropriate. You’ve all heard the fable of the blind men and the elephant. What meaning do you derive from it? To Learning Much Inclined Here is the famous poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887), Blind Men and the Elephant: It was six men of Indostan, To learning much inclined,… Read more

July 23, 2018

Aren’t we supposed to question everything, including our own beliefs? The Socratic Method (“I Drank What?”) Anthony Magnabosco recently gave an interview to The Thinking Atheist where he described his concept of “street epistemology.” He talks to strangers on the street and asks them how they know their beliefs (usually in God, ghosts, or the supernatural) are true. In this way he tries to get them to doubt their beliefs. He calls this method “a turning point for atheism.” Anthony… Read more

July 20, 2018

Two of my colleagues discuss postmodernism, truth, and bias. News flash: civil dialogue is possible in the com-box! In the comments section of the Dawkins vs. Gould wrap-up, two of my fellow bloggers exchanged ideas about human nature, informed decision-making, and trust in science. Meeting of the Minds of the Century of the Week In one corner we have Honey Crisis, creator of the wonderfully anarchic Lipstick Riot channel on Disqus. In the opposite corner we have Rick Snedeker, manager of… Read more

July 10, 2018

Finally, where do Dawkins and Gould differ in the matter of science itself? In the first two installments of my review of Kim Sterelny’s Dawkins vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest, I talked about how Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould differed in the way they conceptualized natural selection and in the way they described the history of the development of life on Earth. Now we look at the way these two scientists approach the history and methodology of empirical… Read more

July 5, 2018

Dawkins and Gould describe the history of life on Earth in very different ways. We continue our discussion of Kim Sterelny’s Dawkins vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest by focusing on the disagreements between the two scientists concerning the history of life on Earth. Punctuated Equilibrium vs. Gradualism Dawkins has always been clear that the cumulative effects of small selection-driven changes are what constitute evolution. The development of life on Earth, according to him, is explained by natural selection driving… Read more

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