Rationally Speaking Podcast: Nonsense on Stilts

The focus of this episode is Massimo’s new book, Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. The book, broadly speaking, is about what philosopher Karl Popper famously called the demarcation problem: how do we tell the difference among science, non-science and pseudoscience?  We explore the complex relationship among these, [...]

What are YOU doing this weekend?

What are we doing?  Well… we were thinking about co-hosting the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism.  That’s right, Saturday is our second… I’d like to say annual, but last year we held it in September so… semi-annual – NECSS.  Last year was full of fantastic lectures, great panel discussions, a live show by the SGU, a concert by George Hrab, and Jamy Ian Swiss confounding us with magic tricks between just about every single discussion.  And this year?  It’s shaping up to be even better.  Why?  Let’s see… … continue reading this entry.

Love is in the airwaves

If you haven’t subscribed to the Rationally Speaking podcast yet, what are you waiting for? The second episode dropped this week and it is all about love and what philosophy, science, and society has to say about it.

Will science ever really be able to explain love? Science has already found correlations between particular hormones and [...]

Podcast Teaser: Can history be a science?

Well, we did it! The first episode of Rationally Speaking, the podcast, is out and available both directly from our New York City Skeptics-sponsored web site and from the iTunes store. The second episode will come out in time for Valentine’s Day, and it will focus on the science and philosophy of love. For our third podcast we will have our first live guest, Prof. Peter Turchin from the University of Connecticut. Peter is a biologist by training, with interests ranging from theoretical ecology to population biology to biostatistics. In particular, much of his work has focused on what determines population cycles, a problem to which he has applied an array of statistical and conceptual tools, including chaos theory. … continue reading this entry.

Rationally Speaking Podcast-Early Release for You!

New York City Skeptics is proud to announce that our new podcast, Rationally Speaking, will officially debut on Sunday, January 31st, but you can get a special preview and listen to the first episode right now by visiting rationallyspeakingpodcast.org or subscribing via iTunes.

Rationally Speaking is hosted by Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef, contributors to Gotham Skeptic. [...]

Strong inference and the distinction between soft and hard science, part II

(This is a two-part commentary reposted from Rationally Speaking that I thought would be of interest to Gotham Skeptic readers, the second part will post later this week.)

Continuing our discussion of Platt’s classical paper on “strong inference” and, more broadly, the difference between soft and hard science, another reason for the difference between these two types of science mentioned but left unexamined by Platt is the relative complexity of the subject matters of different scientific disciplines. It seems to me trivially true that particle physics does in fact deal with the simplest objects in the entire universe: atoms and their constituents. At the opposite extreme, biology takes on the most complex things known to humanity: organisms made of billions of cells, and ecosystems whose properties are affected by tens of thousands of variables. In the middle we have a range of sciences dealing with the relatively simple (chemistry) or the slightly more complex (astronomy, geology), roughly on a continuum that parallels the popular perception of the divide between hard and soft disciplines. That is, a reasonable argument can in fact be made that, so to speak, physicists have been successful because they had it easy. This is of course by no means an attempt to downplay the spectacular progress of physics or chemistry, just to put it in a more reasonable perspective: if you are studying simple phenomena, are given loads of money to do it, and you are able to attract the brightest minds because they think that what you do is really cool, it would be astounding if you had not made dazzling progress! … continue reading this entry.

Podcast Teaser: Love, a skeptical inquiry

Hey there, rational readers! I’m honored to be a guest blogger for Rationally Speaking and Gotham Skeptic, and co-host of the upcoming Rationally Speaking podcast for the NYC Skeptics. Since our second episode is scheduled to air the week of Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t resist making that show’s topic, “The Skeptic’s Guide to Love.”

I do realize that raising this subject risks fueling the widespread and irritating misconception that “skeptic” = “cynical killjoy,” which is the last thing I want to do. So, please let the record show that I am enthusiastically pro-love. (Also pro-kindness, pro-motherhood, and pro-puppies, in case anyone’s keeping track.) … continue reading this entry.

Podcast Teaser: Why rationality?

Massimo Pigliucci is a member of the board of directors for NYC Skeptics and maintains the very successful Rationally Speaking blog. He will be posting on Gotham Skeptic and sharing some of his insights on philosophy, science, and skepticism starting with this very special announcement:

Rationally Speaking is soon going to be (also) a podcast, produced by New York City Skeptics, and co-hosted by Julia Galef and yours truly. Before each (initially biweekly, starting at the end of January) episode we will publish a “teaser” like the one below, introducing the topic of that episode and inviting comments from our readers. Your comments will provide us with additional food for thought, and the most interesting ones will be read and discussed during the show. … continue reading this entry.

Linky loo

I learned about QualiaSoup‘s You Tube Channel from a post on Massimo Pigliucci’s blog Rationally Speaking. I think that this video on evolution is not to be missed, so I wanted to embed it here:

He has lots of other terrific clips, and has gained a bit of renoun for his straighforward manner and lovely illustrations. If [...]

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