April 2010

Another interesting observation from the Paul Bloom psychology course I have been following concerns this fictional character, as well as real-life individuals who share some of his features: They’re typically male. They are defined as selfish, callous, impulsive, they’re sexually promiscuous. They seem to lack love, loyalty, normal feelings of affiliation and compassion, and they […]


Louie Miller, director of the Mississippi state Sierra Club, had this to say about the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: Unfortunately, the genie is out of the bottle with this oil spill, and I don’t think I’m overstating the case by saying


I am in the process of preparing an Ignite presentation on climate change, expressing the basic point that the amount of climate change we experience will depend primarily on what proportion of the world’s fossil fuels we burn. The Ignite format is an odd and challenging one. Each person speaks for five minutes. At the […]


I occasionally encounter people who are surprised to learn that alcohol itself contains many of the calories contained in alcoholic drinks. In some sense, the surprise is understandable; after all, we think of alcohol as a drug and a poison more than as a food. That being said, when ethanol enters the human body, it […]


While it is not surprising, it is worrisome that doctors have trouble with statistics, particularly conditional probabilities. 25 German doctors were asked about the following situation. It is clearly a tricky question, but it is surely a type of question that doctors are exposed to constantly: The probability that one of these women has breast […]


The psychology course I have been following features a Valentine’s Day lecture about love. Mostly, it is about what seems to make people attracted to one another, as demonstrated by psychological experiments. Professor Peter Salovey, the guest lecturer, argues that we have empirical evidence for seven major causes of attraction. Three of them are fairly […]


People certainly respond to climate change in odd ways. Rupert Murdock – owner of the climate denying Fox News channel – now believes that “we can’t afford the risk of inaction” when it comes to climate change, and has decided to make his News Corporation carbon neutral (probably will dubious offsets). Naturally, Fox News barely […]


Over the weekend, I found myself wondering about the relative impact of Canada’s extremely controversial seal hunt and climate change, when it comes to the prospects for Grey Seals and Harp Seals. Given that it seems highly likely that climate change will eventually eliminate summer sea ice, and given that creatures including seals seem to […]


In another demonstration of how many conservatives are hypocrites when it comes to the environment, we have the sorry example of Canada’s billion dollar green energy fund. Contrast these two situations: You oblige people to pay a fee when they emit greenhouse gases, and pay other people a reward if they can remove these gases […]


My father is quoted in a recent Vancouver Sun article about bike lanes: Council considers more bike lanes downtown. He points out how bike lanes make cyclists feel safer, encouraging the use of bikes in urban areas. He also highlights the two greatest dangers to cyclists: people opening car doors in front of them, and […]