Friday, April 18, 2014

Theme: Science

  • For most of recorded history, poverty reflected God’s will. The poor were always with us. They were not inherently immoral, dangerous, or different. They were not to be shunned, feared, or avoided. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a harsh new idea of poverty and poor people as different and inferior began to replace this ancient biblical view. In what ways, exactly, are poor people different from the rest of us became – and remains – a burning question answered with moral philosophy, political economy, social science, and, eventually, biology. Read more
  • Every day all over America, ambulances whisk people with chest pain into emergency rooms. Doctors take a history, perform a physical exam, order diagnostic tests, and, when suspicion of a heart attack is high, send the patient to coronary angiography. Once the results are available, the doctor and patient can review clinical trials, practice guidelines and other tools of evidence-based medicine. Such knowledge should enable good decisions about aspirin, thrombolytic therapy, angioplasty and bypass surgery.Read more
  • Last November I sat in a hotel ballroom surrounded by fellow historians of science as a baffling (to me, anyway) exchange unfolded over the legitimacy of the term “Cold War Social Science.” The occasion was a roundtable discussion at the History of Science Society’s annual meeting on a new book, bearing that very title, edited by Mark Solovey and Hamilton Cravens. Having just written my own book about science and the Cold War, I watched with growing alarm as colleagues spelled out their objections: decolonialization, various rights’ movements, the triumph of neoliberalism, pre-existing strains of social scientific thinking—surely each of these influenced the postwar social sciences as much as the conflict between Communism and capitalism?Read more
  • The first of a series of lectures from January 1975, where Buckminster Fuller speaks about his entire life's work.Read more
  • I need two things to start my average weekday. One of them is coffee. The coffee, of course, goes into a mug [1]. Mugs reflect our deepest-held values, proudly displaying the logo of a faceless corporate monolith or the title of that conference that you kind of remember attending two jobs ago. My mug features a mural of endangered animal species overlaid with some text. The text reads: EXTINCTION IS FOREVER. The second thing I need to start my day, you see, is a bit of light philosophy.Read more
  • In my neuropsychiatric practice, I often use cartoons and jokes to measure a patient’s neurologic and psychiatric well-being. I start off with a standard illustration called “The Cookie Theft.” It depicts a boy, precariously balanced on a stool, pilfering cookies from a kitchen cabinet as his sister eggs him on, while their absentminded mother stands drying a plate, oblivious to the water overflowing from the sink onto the floor. Read more
  • Kurzweil has honors from three US presidents (so says Wikipedia) and was the “principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner” and other useful devices, as well as receiving many other entrepreneurial awards. He is clearly a man of many parts—but is ultimate theoretician of the mind one of them?Read more
  • The lone survivor of traditional Western European ‘scientific’ culture is science. It has survived because it is now the handmaid of technology, without which contemporary civilization would collapse utterly. Anyone who doubts this should try to get a research grant for genuinely “pure” research.Read more
  • Jim Holt speaks about rocks, modern-day science and the nature of the universe.Read more
  • What is there? There is God. What else is there? There are the things that God created.The essences of created and possible things have always been. Essences are composed of 'Monads'. The 'Monads' are of such a fineness that they are imperceptible to our senses.Read more
  • The world of mathematics is a dissenter’s paradise. Although mathematical reasoning binds the mind to rigor and constrains it to obey rules of inference and to accept semantic conventions shared by the community of its practitioners, the world of mathematics at large, in society and in our imagination, is replete with diversity, disagreement and discontent.Read more
  • This semester I’ve been running a graduate level seminar at the City University of New York, on the difference between philosophy of science and science studies. The latter is a broad and somewhat vaguely defined term that includes (certain kinds of) sociology of science, postmodern criticism of science, and feminist epistemology. Read more
  • After being discharged from the Air Service at the end of the Great War, Buck Rogers was hired by the American Radioactive Gas Corporation as an inspector; while investigating a mine, he was overcome by (what else?) radioactive gas, and it preserved him for some 500 years. Read more
  • Many and many a reader has asked that. When the story first came out, in the New England Magazine about 1891, a Boston physician made protest in The Transcript. Such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.Read more
  • As in Freud’s own time, the “boundary violation” (the discipline’s contemporary euphemism) remains embarrassingly common. Usually the clinician is a man, often professionally distinguished with years of experience, and the patient a younger woman.Read more
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