All posts tagged: Grumbling

Voting and vaccinating

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Some people think it isn’t rational to vote. Usually the argument is as follows: the probability of being pivotal, that is: the probability that your vote will ‘decide’ the winner, shrinks rapidly as the number of voters increases. So if you vote in the hope of determining an outcome, then the probability of that happening is small enough for it not to be worthwhile trying. Let’s leave aside the virtues of this argument and consider […]

Premises

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A: You know I like the idea of using logic and logical deduction to understand how thinking should be done. This idea that beliefs are, or at least should be, the conclusions of deductive arguments is very clear and elegant. But I do worry… B: You worry?  Tell me about your worries.

What’s so great about real names?

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A little while back a New York Times article discusses the consequences for college admission of saying undiplomatic things in social media. Apparently colleges monitor, or at least check up on, the social media presence of their potential applicants to see whether they’re the right kind of person for the school. Inevitably, students scrub, curate, or simply hide their account in response. Leaving aside the possible rights and wrongs of this behaviour, we might ask: how […]

Quantifying the international search for meaning

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Inspired by Preis et al.’s article Quantifying the advantage of looking forward, recently published in Scientific Reports (one of Nature publishing group’s journals), I wondered if similar big-data web-based research methods might address a question even bigger than how much different countries wonder about next year. How about the meaning of life. Who is searching for clarification about the meaning of life? And how is that related to the more obvious life task of getting […]

On the use and abuse of weasels in science journalism

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Dean Burnett writes a column in Guardian, sometimes about science but more entertainingly on pseudo-, wannabe-, and not-actually- science. Most of the time this is good BS-shovelling fun and I recommend it. Unfortunately today we get some ill-considered overreach under the guise of shovelling. The subject is a silly equation purporting to define how depressing any day of the year is, and thereby to identify the most depressing one. It is sufficiently silly that it […]