Monthly Archives: March 2013

Error and Uncertainty Lead to Confidence

Article by Davis Jacobson

“Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

–Brown and Williamson, 1969 (internal memorandum, found here)

It is often lamented that there are misunderstandings of scientific findings in the general public. There’s no … Read more

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My Book of Lists

“When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”

─ African proverb

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe….  All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.  Time to die.”

─ Roy Batty, Blade Runner

In 2008, a number of significant life events converged that spurred me seriously to ask myself what it means to be alive.  I … Read more

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Why Atheists Stop Believing

puzzleGood writing and clear thinking don’t always go hand in hand. It’s a pleasure, then, to find both in a book about going it alone–using rationality rather than supernatural entities to face reality–titled 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists.

In one volume, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk, idiosyncratic essays by a range of atheists are featured, from science fiction authors … Read more

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Thinking Critically for Life

Article by Ken Kilgore

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

─ Derek Bok

I majored in Biology in college, but it wasn’t till I read Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World:  Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996) years later that I consciously developed a consistent and rigorous critical thinking process that applies to life in general.  In his book, Sagan devotes a … Read more

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Are We Less Violent Than in the Past?

Fingers_crossedSteven Pinker is a major modern thinker and atheist, so when I got a paperback copy of his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, I read it seriously. All 700 pages of it (add another 100 for notes, references, and index).

Could it really be true that human societies are less, rather than more, violent than at previous … Read more

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Parking Perplexity

Article by Davis Jacobson

Who wants to waste time walking if you could just drive? If only there were a perfect way to find a parking space in a big lot….

Spoiler alert: There isn’t! But there are glimmers of ways that are reliably not as bad as the worst you could do! It turns out that this problem fits within a category called … Read more

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“Not For the Body or Belly”

“And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.”

─ Doctrine & Covenants 89:9

My wife Ptarmi comes from a close-knit family, the Stones.  Unlike the Kilgores, the Stones family is large in number and deeply religious, with membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) going back several generations.  The Stones visit each other often and get together … Read more

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