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Science

Why the new hoax papers on cultural studies merely confirmed everyone’s priors

In 1996 Alan Sokal published a hoax paper in the cultural studies journal Social Text which was nonsense, asserting among other things gravity was a social construct. Sokal claimed: “The editors of Social Text liked my article because they liked its conclusion: that ‘the content and methodology of postmodern science provide powerful intellectual support for the […]

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Science

Contrary to popular belief, fusion power generation is not really like the Sun

Most positive news stories about generating electricity from nuclear fusion mention fusion powers the sun. The implication being nuclear fusion is simple, clean and healthy. Unlike nuclear fission, which is what existing nuclear reactors use. Nuclear fission produces radioactive waste, and the reactors have a risk of meltdown. Not good. But fusion has its skeptics too. Negative fusion stories always quote some version of […]

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Science

Getting fat is a metabolic disorder. An evolutionary take on Paleo and Low Carb Diets.

Last year I wrote a couple of posts supportive of Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat. I’m still a believer so wanted to do an update. Though I’ve tried to be careful in noting below where Taubes’ view differs from the scientific consensus.

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Science

Mundane Science and SF are awesome. Please stop it with the invisibility cloaks and FTL.

While most of my posts are about technology, at heart this is a futurist blog. Futurism is “the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general.” And to be clear my focus is […]

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Science

The Reproducibility Crisis in Science. Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love nukes with a side of bacon.

On the left, Peter Sellers from the classic cold war satire “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb“.  On the right, a side order of bacon. Here’s how I learned to love them both.

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Science

Coal is so bad it makes fracking good

Support is roughly split for hydraulic fracking, the process of extracting shale gas using chemically treated pressurized water. A recent United States poll shows 45% support, 41% don’t support, and the rest don’t know what it is. But of course that same poll shows fracking support is highly polarized, with Republicans supporting 71%/20% and Democrats against 22%/60%. Since […]

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Science

GM Crops: The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Genetically Modified (GM) crops are slowly gaining traction against “frankenfood” opposition. I think this is great. Though if you hate GM crops, of course you’re unhappy. Similar to global warming, people tend to hold quasi-religious beliefs about GM crops. So realistically this (partisan) post won’t change anyone’s mind. But if you are on the fence […]

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Politics Science

Living with a deep faith in science

Last week’s post on Atheism as a sacred belief showed how atheists can be as dogmatic as anyone. The central insight is anything we care passionately about can become sacralized, and immune to reason. Even atheism. Since I’m a ra-ra science fan, science works that way for me. For example I love this “it works […]

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Science

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

This is part 2 of a two part series. Part 1 is here. In last week’s post we contrasted the “energy in/energy out” model of getting fat with the “wrong kinds of food” model. This framing comes from Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat. Again, be warned I’m a fan of Taubes and his book. With […]

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Science

Two Models of Why We Get Fat

This is part 1 of a two part series. Part 2 is here. Why do we get fat? The prevailing model is energy balance, pictured above on the left. When people eat more than they burn off, they get fat. All calories are the same. Just do the math. In contrast, on the right is a […]