Category Archives: Science

Dawkins v Wilson on Group Selection

A minor irritant in Dawkins’ book just discussed is that he several times describes claims by other scientists and then patiently explains why they are wrong. In one case it’s a recently published paper in a journal. In another he … Continue reading

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Dawkins, THE SELFISH GENE

Opening paragraph, of a chapter called “Why are people?” Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Fiction and Truth, Ignorance and Knowledge, Science Denial and the Scientific Attitude

Three interesting essays this week. In the New York Times Sunday Review section, an essay by Yuval Noah Harari: Why Fiction Trumps Truth, subtitled “We humans know more truths than any species on earth. Yet we also believe the most … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Scientific Humanism; the Socialist Menace; Border Crisis

Michael Shermer’s final Scientific American column, in January, summarizes The Case for Scientific Humanism, a “blending of scientific naturalism and Enlightenment humanism,” echoing my own Provisional Conclusion #5: Modern science arose in the 16th and 17th centuries following the Scientific … Continue reading

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Oliver Sacks on Forster and Rees

There’s a short essay by the late Oliver Sacks in current issue of The New Yorker: The Machine Stops. He muses about people walking down the street staring at their phones. Much of this, remarkably, was envisaged by E. M. Forster … Continue reading

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Levitan: NOT A SCIENTIST

Journalist Dave Levitan’s NOT A SCIENTIST: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science (Norton 2017) addresses a dozen or so kinds of mistakes that are typically behind any politician’s use of the phrase “I’m not a scientist, but…”, and … Continue reading

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Lightman: SEARCHING FOR STARS ON AN ISLAND IN MAINE

Alan Lightman is the best known of the three authors reviewed today; he’s published numerous books before, including the novels EINSTEIN’S DREAMS and THE DIAGNOSIS, as well as numerous volumes of essays, out of all of which I’ve only read … Continue reading

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Hawking: BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS

This is the lightest Stephen Hawking book you are likely to read. Published posthumously, it’s a set of reminiscences on 10 big questions compiled and edited from various speeches, interviews, and essays in Hawking’s personal archives, “completed in collaboration with … Continue reading

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C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures, The Third Culture, Big History, and 2001

C.P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” is the famous 1959 lecture and then essay about the divide between the scientific community and the literary ‘intellectual’ community, an essay much referenced in books about the acceptance of science in modern culture (with, … Continue reading

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Richard Feynman’s Meaning, and Being Savvy

Here’s a short book of three essays first delivered as lectures at the University of Washington in Seattle, in 1963, gathered into a book published in 1998. Feynman, of course, was a famous CalTech physicist influential for work in quantum … Continue reading

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