Authority appeals

Suarez: Nature or nurture? BBC expert unable to specify, quoted extensively nonetheless

Reasons why footballer-biting-other-footballer resulted from nature (i.e., the passing of traits from parent to offspring at a biological, or genetic, level): “I would suggest he is hard-wired in this way. It’s not something that’s going to come out of his character with a few sessions with a psychologist…It’s in the man.” That was […]

Marriage causes germs (kind of)

Yesterday morning I watched an interesting breakfast TV show here in Accra, on Ghana’s GTV. Interesting for three reasons: (a) because it illustrated the passionately articulate and comfortably personable nature of many Ghanaians, with whom just about any quick chat can escalate into an eloquent debate within seconds; (b) because […]

Telling parents how vaccines are safe makes them *less* likely to vaccinate their kids

Here’s a classic science communication fiasco. Many of us believe empiricism enables the resolution of uncertainty with data, and that more information is better than less. That’s why we do science. One of the moral imperatives that drive us is that carefully scrutinized, systematically replicable, and objectively verifiable information trumps […]

How to Survive a Plane Crash (Non-survival also a possibility)

I’m travelling to China in the morning, on some university work in Hong Kong and Shantou. It takes two days to travel between here and there, and I’ll be away for 8 days. So yes, I’ll be spending half my time in transit. I’ve been doing some preparatory reading. Here’s […]

“Adultery could save your marriage”, or “How to churn out science news by riffing on Valentine’s Day”

“Could” is an awesome word. I “could” be in a position to help you. That dream job “could” be yours. Eating fish oil “could” make you smarter, or it “could” cause cancer. Or whatever. And, of course, adultery “could” make your marriage more happy. Why, yes, of course it “could”. […]

So I got this email from Noam Chomsky today, looking for my opinion…

…as did 20,000 other recipients (making their target sample an interesting n = 20,001): Dear Colleague: You have received this survey along with 20,000 other academics globally. This survey is meant to assess the attitude of the scientific community on the issue of university military research. Kindly take a moment […]