Scientific literacy

Towards a quantum Theory of Everything (including dirty dishes)

Perhaps few words in contemporary science have been abused as much as “quantum”. Simply put, a quantum is the minimum amount of an entity that can actually do anything. One example is a photon, which is the minimum amount of light that can be involved in an electromagnetic interaction. The […]

Politico.ie covers “The Babel Fish”

Following up on last week’s Irish Skeptics Society lecture on science communication, journalist John Holden filed a report on the Irish politics and current affairs website, Politico.ie. As part of his analysis, Holden notes that: “In the Irish media there is still only one page per week devoted to ‘hard science’ […]

The Babel Fish Dilemma: Talking Science with Non-Scientists

Last night I gave a public lecture in Dublin for the Irish Skeptics Society, entitled “The Babel Fish Dilemma: Talking Science with Non-Scientists“. The Irish Skeptics, under the leadership of psychologists Paul O’Donoghue and Nóirín Buckley, have been organizing a public lecture series on science engagement, critical thinking, and skepticism […]

“Radiation is good for Japan”: Coulter’s case dissected

Have a listen to Ann Coulter talking to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News last week (the show aired on St Patrick’s Day, hence O’Reilly’s green tie). Coulter is a social conservative columnist and lawyer, well known in the US for her right-wing diatribes. Here she is talking about recent events […]

When is a nuclear meltdown not a nuclear meltdown?

The horror of human suffering caused by the catastrophe in Japan is vicariously traumatic, and only compounded by the fearful prospect of mass radioactivity contamination. News organizations have a pivotal role when reporting such events in both informing and, if appropriate, reassuring a frightened public. In reality, of course, the […]

Right-wingers are better looking, study doesn’t show

Last week, the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) issued a press release with the title, “Rightwing candidates are better looking, says study”. The item described a study conducted by Swedish and Finnish economists in which 2,500 non-Finns rated 1,357 Finnish election candidates for attractiveness. The authors identified two main conclusions. […]