Articles about Science



Do bees make hexagons?

It is time for you to consider the deeply profound question: Do bees make hexagons? You look at a honeycomb, the thing that the bees build, and it has hexagons. So the answer seems obvious: sure, bees make hexagons. There are a lot of websites out there that will tell you that bees make hexagons […]

Only cells make cells

In his book, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, Nick Lane takes a moment to clear up something about the relationship between DNA and cells: DNA doesn’t make cells. Only cells make cells. When we talk about DNA being the “blueprint” for making an organism, a lot of people get the wrong […]

Simulating H.P. Lovecraft: a random text generation project
Sentence Structure

After much blasphemous and daemonic experimentation with abominable and vile Dark Practices, I have been able to make contact with the undead mind of H.P. Lovecraft, summoning him from the insane and unspeakable dimensions beyond this realm, and extracting from him these fragments of text that he has written whilst in his wretched timeless, bodiless […]

Teach Divine Mathematics if you want to… but do it right.
Natural Philosophy

Some religious groups are pushing the teaching of “divine mathematics”: elementary-level mathematics education with a religious slant. This news has been making the rounds on liberal political websites, with the expected combination of horror and mockery. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with including God in mathematics education… as long as it’s done […]

Quasi-crystals are not proof of intelligent design
Perplexing Poultry Large Tiling

Every once in a while, a new discovery is made in science that is only partially-understood. Inevitably, this gets reported to the masses in a watered-down way by news writers who do not understand science, and there is a great cry: “The foundations of science are crumbling! Science discovers thing that is impossible to explain! […]

What economies and brains have in common
Networks

There is an interesting, almost eerie parallel between theories of consciousness and theories of economics, and the way these theories have evolved over time.  Let’s take a look. (Note: I’ve summed up two massive histories of two broad fields in three paragraphs each. Of course they are simplified and cartoonish, so you don’t have to […]

Magic, evil, and alternate universes.
Sci-Fi Fantasy Visualization No. 1

This is a visualization of relationships between some of the biggest and most popular science fiction and fantasy universes: Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, The Golden Compass, Superman, and X-Men. The spatial position shows the “similarity” between the universes based on nine variables, the size […]

The word “all” is a problem in political surveys
Venn Diagram

I have come to realize that most people don’t understand what the word “all” means. Here is one example. The following are two results from the same survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute on February 1-5, 2012. The margin of error is ± 3.5%. “Please tell me if you completely agree, mostly agree, […]

fruit trees do not need CEO’s.

Fruit trees are really, really inefficient. In order to reproduce, they wrap their seeds in delicious, juicy fruit.  This will hopefully entice birds and animals to eat the fruit, thereby picking up the seed and moving it.  This will transport the seed to a far off land, where it will be deposited in the ground […]

Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?
Penile Plethysmograph

There are some studies that I wish I could agree with simply because I love the results so much. When a study seems to demonstrate something that I agree with, something that I support or have long suspected, there is a temptation to look past any criticism of the study itself and just hold it […]

Aristotle meets Einstein
Aristotle meets Einstein

For the last week or so I’ve been contemplating this question: What would it have taken for Aristotle to have come up with the iconic equation of the Theory of Relativity, E = mc2, two thousand years before Albert Einstein was born? It’s a fun question to ponder. Without considering the details, it’s exciting to […]

militant atheist psychotherapists are not as rational as they think
The Therapist Project

I was first introduced to Darrel Ray through an interview with him that I heard on the David Pakman Show. He was talking about something called “The Therapist Project” which describes itself as “a nationwide effort to match secular clients with secular psychotherapists.” Phrased another way, it is a resource to help people who are […]

ptochosagnosia : a neurological epidemic
Neurological Disorder

The term “agnosia” refers to a family of neurological disorders that have to do with the inability of the brain to recognize, understand, or even think about certain things. Someone with prosopagnosia cannot recognize or identify faces. Someone with hemiagnosia is unable to see, act on, or even think about one side of the world […]

academia, liberal bias and statistics abuse

Liberal Bias: it’s all fun and games until you start abusing data and statistics. Then the gloves come off. I have a great time making fun of the hoots and hollers on the conservative side about supposed “liberal bias” in the media and other places. I even have started a little satire website at liberalbias.com […]

genetic perfection

Imagine a society where complete genetic engineering is possible. Imagine that you and another person can go to a fertilization clinic and pay them to find the combination of your genes that will minimize the chances of major diseases and disorders. Pay them a little more, and they can remove high-risk factor genes entirely in […]

the magicians of science

“I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in [demons] (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to the belief in [God]. The ‘Life Force’, the worship of […]

rethinking physics: an interdisciplinary view

Buck Field is a philosopher, a scientist, and an MBA: an unusual intersection of fields of expertise. Synthesizing concepts from philosophy, physics, and project management, he has envisioned a way to revolutionize our basic understanding of the universe, and perhaps carve a path to one of the “holy grails” of modern physics along the way: […]

Taxes, Mark Levin, and Statistics Abuse
Percentage of Total Federal Income Tax Paid, By Income Bracket

I’ve ranted about lying with statistics and statistics abuse before.  This time, though, it overlaps with another of my favorite topics: taxes. For a very long time now, the silk-voiced and soothing Mark Levin has pushed the idea that our tax system is horribly skewed and unfair against rich people.  His evidence for this is […]

what is a theory?

Recently, Michelle Bachman said: “Why would we forestall any particular theory? Because I don’t think that even evolutionists, by and large, would say that this is proven fact. They say that this is a theory…” This is really just an echo of the continuous drone of the “evolution is just a theory” mantra that has been […]

have a stochastic Christmas
Christmas Tree Decorations

The decorating of the Christmas tree, for me, is always a time to reflect on family, love, charity, and of course probability theory. Each year, we choose a different selection of ornament “styles” from the huge collection of ornaments that we have in storage. Last year, it was doves and metal and glass ornaments. This […]

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