Category Archives: epistemology

An Individualist Humanist in a Tribal World

Stand on a beach some time, somewhere well up on dry land. Above the high water mark. Notice you don’t drown. Then walk down toward the water. If the wind is blowing and the water is rough, there will be … Continue reading

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Reflections on Faith

I’ve written about faith before. I even wrote a poem about it. But a friend’s comments the other day suggested a refinement in how I talk about faith. I’m very slow at these things so I often need to come … Continue reading

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Global Warming: so-so science, horrible politics

Rupert Darwall’s The Age of Global Warming is an interesting and important book for people who want to understand the political and diplomatic history of climate change. Environmentalism comes in two kinds: pragmatists who want to formulate policy based on … Continue reading

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Opinions, Judgements and the Bayesian Revolution

This article on what it means to “have an opinion” is not bad, but it muddles two fundamentally different types of “opinion” and as such fails to get at the root of the problem, and misses important ideas about diversity … Continue reading

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The Mutant Flowers of Fukushima

This picture of deformed flowers near Fukushima is making the rounds today, and I figured it was worth commenting on it. I am physicist who has worked fairly heavily in radiation transport and health physics, as well as genomics. It’s … Continue reading

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Narrative Predictions

The human brain is a machine for leaping to conclusions in a single bound. Activists and political agitators of every stripe use this to promote their nonsense by putting together narratives that appeal to our conclusion-jumping reflex. “Chemicals” are frequently … Continue reading

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Some Notes on Being Bad at Stuff

I’m not a big fan of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which says the language we use limits the ways we can think. The fact is we routinely create new language when we need to think new thoughts. But old language can … Continue reading

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Dark Matter, Aether, Caloric and Neutrinos

It is fairly common today to see laypeople compare dark matter to the luminferous aether, that bugaboo of 19th century physics whose existence was disproven by the Michaelson-Morley experiment and which was subsequently made redundant by Einstein’s kinematic relativity. Aether … Continue reading

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On Interpretation

“The cat is on the mat” is a reasonably clear statement, not subject to a huge range of interpretation. If anyone reading it claimed it justified killing blasphemers most people would look at them funny. And remember: this is the … Continue reading

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Ockham’s Razor is a Special Case of Bayes’ Rule

William of Ockham was an English cleric who eponymous principle of logic looms large in far too much of what passes for “debate” on the Internet. People who deploy Ockham’s razor never seem to stop and and wonder why they … Continue reading

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