Monthly Archives: October 2014

Islamism is Stupid

In the past few days Islamist nutjobs have killed two Canadians. Why they are doing so is pretty clear: they are stupid. It is stupid to attempt to intimidate Canadians by killing a few of us. It is stupid to … Continue reading

Posted in history, politics, religion | Leave a comment

Power Too Cheap to Meter

There has been some not-entirely-unjustified skepticism about Lockheed-Martin’s recent announcement of a novel fusion reactor configuration. This post is intended to explain why I’m hopeful about this, rather than simply dismissive. I’m a technological optimist. But you knew that. Timelines, … Continue reading

Posted in physics, science, technology | Leave a comment

Fear in a Time of Ebola

I’ve seen a number of people in the past few days attempting to spread fear about the possibility of Ebola “becoming airborne” and thought it worth saying a few words about that. Although I’m a physicist by education, I’ve spent … Continue reading

Posted in evolution, probability, psychology, science | Leave a comment

What a Difference a Data-Point Makes

I just recently found out about a nice bit of work from a few years ago, involving the tracking down, digitizing and processing of Nimbus satellite images from 1964 that include the poles, so sea-ice estimates could be made. I … Continue reading

Posted in physics, politics, prediction, science | Leave a comment

How News Stories Ought to be Written

The government of Iraq is requesting American troops to defend Baghdad from ISIS attacks. Here is information the story omits. President George W. Bush signed a “Status-of-Forces Agreement” with the Iraqi government in 2008 that specified a December 31st 2011 … Continue reading

Posted in politics, psychology, war | Leave a comment

Sampling Fossils

Sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s I read an article in Nature that argued we should expect “first discovery” dates in the sciences that involve digging up fossils to take periodic leaps backward. The argument is compelling: because … Continue reading

Posted in bayes, evolution, history, probability, software | 2 Comments

The Institute of Evil Studies

The Institute of Evil Studies doesn’t actually exist, but it should. Philosophers and theologians have wittered on about evil for thousands of years without making any progress beyond irrelevant arguments about angels and demons and “deep” questions about whether humans … Continue reading

Posted in Blog, ethics, politics, psychology, religion, science | 1 Comment

Even More Things that Are Not Arguments

Canada is sending about 600 members of the RCAF and a dozen aircraft of various types to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces in their war with ISIS. Here are some things that are not arguments: 1) “ISIS are EVIL! They … Continue reading

Posted in epistemology, ethics, history, politics, probability, psychology, war | 1 Comment

Guns, Drugs and Laws

What is the role of law in a free and democratic society? Consider the data in the following areas: Drugs Alcohol Firearms Prostitution Abortion In each case, there is a clear argument to be made that laws restricting popular activities … Continue reading

Posted in economics, history, politics, prediction, psychology | Leave a comment

How Bad is the Porn Industry?

Some quotes (a few words have been changed or omitted to hide identities): I am overwhelmed with sadness, panic, fear, despair. I know I want to quit, but at this point it’s been 9 years. I am so sick of … Continue reading

Posted in epistemology, politics, psychology, science | Leave a comment