31 March 2012

Items to share: 31 March

23 March 2012

Items to share: 24 March

  • Is Homeopathy A Sham? : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR  Interesting to find this. In a lecture earlier this week (link to come) on the "Limits of Reflective Practice" I speculated that this generally inoccuous but over-rated approach to professional practice survives--like homeopathy--as a "meme", not because it does what it sets out to do, but because of side-effects valued by its proponents.  Perhaps it is a matter of selective attention (a la Invisible Gorilla) that I seem to have picked up three alternative medicine pieces this week:.
  • Online PhD Resources:Thanks to a correspondent for pointing me in this direction--looks interesting.
  • Robbers' Cave Experiment: A Week with the Boys Not quite as famous (or notorious) as Milgram's obedience experiments, or Zimbardo's prison, or Asch on conformity, the Robber's Cave study of creating conflict and co-operation is nonetheless a classic which could not be replicated today (Sherif et al., 1961). Well, not in an academic setting, but of course "reality" TV operates on different rules...
  • Removed by request (1 Feb 3013)

18 March 2012

Items to share: 18 March

  • Water has Memory Almost lends credibility to homeopathy (a claim the piece does not make). [This link has now been taken down--the source was here. Thanks to David S for the correction.]

11 March 2012

Items to share: 11 March

Apologies for this (late) ramshackle listing. I'm experimenting with delicious as a means of gleaning interesting links. It is indeed easy, but getting the results from there to here appears to be convoluted, until I get the knack...

06 March 2012

On Pinker's latest

“One always tends to overpraise a long book because one has got through it.” — E.M. Forster (Attributable  of course to cognitive dissonance.)

In that spirit Steven Pinker's On the Better Angels of our Nature is brilliant. It's the book of the century!

It's on "the decline of violence in history and its causes". The Preface sets out the argument very succinctly, so you don't really have to read the rest. The main body smacks of protesting too much, but I'm not a historian and really capable of evaluating the evidence Pinker cites; but then, nor is he. Other critics have complained about his use of relative rates of violence (instances per 100,000 population raather than absolute figures) as if it were a sleight of hand. I can't, for example, comment knowledgeably on that. I am largely convinced by what Pinker discusses, but then I don't know enough to know what he doesn't discuss, and the counter-arguments and counter-evidence.

The final chapter on game theory and violence is more convincing. But overall, I'm not convinced that Pinker has added very much to Robert Wright's argument in Nonzero: History, Evolution & Human Cooperation: The Logic of Human Destiny (2001)--certainly not 700 pages worth.

03 March 2012

Items to share (3 March)

  • Michael Ruse  on Thomas Kuhns' The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 50 years on.
  • Interesting piece arguing that in the Middle Ages it was usual to go to bed at sunset or shortly after, and then to get up again for an hour or two around midnight.