An aerial photo of Calgary, the Stampede grounds, flooded

Social norming, agenda setting and discourse about climate change

I am fascinated by what constitutes the limits of “respectable” public discourse. This phenomenon is related, in part, to the Overton window, which is the set of concepts that are considered politically acceptable by the dominant culture. But I am equally fascinated by the social limits …

A simple plane reminds me of the joy of physics and making a bottle rocket

My first bottle rocket!

I never had a bottle rocket growing up. At least, not that I remember. And a couple of weeks ago, a few friends and I put Mentos in a bottle of diet coke and that was really exciting and it got me…

Civilization is paid for with taxes

Five historical misconceptions, demisconceptualized

I grew up in a subtly, vaguely, self identifying Norwegian household. We ate lefse and told stories about lutefisk and had a Norwegian version of the lord’s prayer installed in our kitchen. But, most poignantly, we believed Vikings had horns on their helmets. Turns out that’s probably bullshit. We were also pretty much wrong about…

Close up of a snearing soldier by Alfred T. Palmer

The use and abuse of science in editorial

I approve of science. I approve of evidence and research. By and large and in the long run, science reveals the facts or transparently fails to do so. Along the way we make mistakes, get things wrong, get our hands dirty and learn that stuff is often really complicated. And I also approve of journalists…

Evolutionary tree sketch by Charles Darwin

What was right about “See the veil for what it is”

This post is part of a series of reflections on Dan Gardner’s Ottawa Citizen editorial, “See the veil for what it is.” There are some things that Dan Gardner got right and I thought it would be good to make note of them, before examining his many errors.

At point blank with a gun

See the veil for what it is: further reflections

I read Dan Gardner’s column in the Ottawa Citizen on Wednesday and, dissatisfied with his analysis, wrote a blog post reviewing some of his errors in judgement. During that time I had some opportunity to engage directly with Gardner via Twitter as well as with some others on the issues surrounding his column…

Santa Claus and the orbital model of the atom

I was recently asked on Twitter what the difference is between Santa Claus and the orbital model of the atom. It was asked in a way, that suggested there was no difference, so I thought it must be humour. But now I think it wasn’t.

numbers in sequence

The odds of picking of 1st, 2nd and 3rd

I was recently watching a television show, The Mentalist, in which the protagonist, Patrick Jane, pulled a slick trick of picking the first, second and third place horses at a race track. He told a guy he would do it. Of course it was a trick. I love math!

Richard Dawkins gives talk

Is Christmas a myth?

Is Christmas a myth? Is Christmas essentially Christian? If so, is Christianity essentially a myth? Does Jesus or Santa Claus want us to keep killing civilians in Afghanistan? All good questions…

Eggs (many eggs)

Twelve eggs every day

I knew this guy in Nelson. He ate twelve eggs every day. He said that everything we had ever heard about eggs being bad for us, was published by the meat and dairy…

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