Category Archives: The Science-Minded Citizen

Spirituality and “Inner” Life

By Vinod Wadhawan

I have come across many scientists who say: “I do not subscribe to any religion, but I am a spiritual person.” What exactly is spirituality? Here are a couple of definitions:

The term “spirituality” lacks a definitive definition, although social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for “the sacred,” where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart … Read more

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Only a Theory?

By Laurie Hatton (in collaboration with her local Brights Community Cluster)

Sherlock Holmes commonly stated to Watson, “I have a theory.” The word “theory” means that something is a guess or speculative idea. Right?  Well, yes it can. However, when a scientist uses the term theory, he or she means something totally different.  A scientific theory is an idea that has a lot of evidence … Read more

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Belief

Tiffany Education

The Chittenden Memorial Window at Yale University

By Fran Evanisko
(in collaboration with his local Brights Community Cluster)

To my dad, the old days were either better or worse than the present, depending on the point he was trying to make.  If he wanted me to appreciate all of the good things I had, he would emphasize how bad things were during the depression.  If … Read more

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Does Literary Fiction Help You Read Minds?

Article by Dan Arel

I read a lot. However, I mostly focus on history, politics or science. I rarely break out a good piece of literary fiction. Though, after reading this recent study from the New School for Social Research, in which they studied the correlation between what people read and how well they read faces….

In the study, recently published in the journal ScienceRead more

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The Know It All Effect

Article by Dan Arel

  • Book PictureDo people who claim to have a strong understanding of science challenge their views?
  • Do people who claim religious affiliation read scientific studies that oppose their worldview?

S. Mo Jang of the University of Michigan set out to answer such questions. He recently published findings in Science Communication.

In his paper, “Seeking Congruency or Incongruency Online? Examining Selective Exposure Read more

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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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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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Fish Fights

Article by Davis Jacobson

I saw a bit in the Telegraph regarding the problems surrounding all the mackerel in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Yes, the mid-latitude Atlantic fish, and yes, the smallish island countries between Scandinavia and Greenland. Plus Russia.

A lot of science comes together here: climate science, biology, political science, economics…. (Today I’m using “science” in a broad sense like the German … Read more

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