Advertisement

Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

Science Archives

Hi honey, I’m ADHD

posted by Rod Dreher

Attention-deficit disorders can take a big toll on marriage. Excerpt: In a marriage, the common symptoms of the disorder — distraction, disorganization, forgetfulness — can easily be misinterpreted as laziness, selfishness, and a lack of love and concern. More: Adults […]

Advertisement

Apple & AT&T: A doomed marriage

posted by Rod Dreher

I love my iPhone, but boy, do I hate AT&T, which all iPhone users have no choice but to commit to. Wired has a great piece up about the bad marriage between the two companies. Here’s an excerpt that should […]

Advertisement

Chinese pine mouth — ever had it?

posted by Rod Dreher

When we were down in Louisiana a month or so ago, we made a pesto sauce. Turns out I was the only one who ate it. Afterward, for several days I couldn’t eat anything without it tasting really metallic and […]

Advertisement

Raw milk bad for you?

posted by Rod Dreher

Yes, says Deborah Blum, who says food faddists who go for raw milk are really putting themselves in danger for no good reason. Excerpt: But the subject of raw milk just makes people irrational. The doctor’s snit about his preferred […]

Weekend information, faith, reality posts

posted by Rod Dreher

In case you missed them over the weekend, I put up three posts about quantum mechanics, faith and the theory that information is the basis for reality. Here they are, in order: Information, the basis of reality. Introducing a theory […]

Openness and scientific discovery

posted by Rod Dreher

A colleague mentioned the other day that younger scientists may fear getting involved with certain kinds of potentially fruitful research because they risk hurting their careers by flirting with what is now scientific heterodoxy. My colleague’s concern is that science […]

BP oil spill after 1 year — shock video

posted by Rod Dreher

I haven’t blogged on the news that BP seems to have successfully capped the leaking oil well in the Gulf, because I don’t want to give in to false hope. But the news seems — seems seems seems — good. […]

Does faith open an information channel?

posted by Rod Dreher

In the “Information” thread below, Broken Yogi posted a length to this magazine article describing the pioneering work in quantum mechanics being done by Anton Zeilinger and his team in Vienna. Here’s how it ends: Late last year Brukner and […]

Information, the basis of reality

posted by Rod Dreher

Yesterday at the Foundation, I heard a presentation by Hyung Choi, a physicist, philosopher and theologian who is in charge of our grant-giving in mathematics and the physical sciences. Hyung said that the emergence of quantum mechanics caused a revolution […]

Creativity, dreams, premonitions, quantum

posted by Rod Dreher

You know how little kids, maybe at the age of three, start asking questions that are hard to answer? My kid Matthew is 10, but he’s at that stage again — except this time, he offers what he calls “theories,” […]

Coming: BP’s methane volcano?

posted by Rod Dreher

Does the BP oil disaster threaten to turn into a methane volcano that threatens doomsday? This guy thinks so. Excerpt: Ominous reports are leaking past the BP Gulf salvage operation news blackout that the disaster unfolding in the Gulf of […]

Monsanto’s genetically-modified Eucharist

posted by Rod Dreher

Many religions have laws governing ritual purity. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, ruled that under its own laws, a gluten-free wheat wafer cannot be used to confect the Eucharist. Unless you are a canonist or otherwise versed in this […]

Are Americans growing less creative?

posted by Rod Dreher

Yes, according to one study of American children. Excerpt: Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily […]

Toys fight cancer?

posted by Rod Dreher

In mice, that is. So says a new report in the science journal Cell, as reported by Jonah Lehrer. This study involved lab mice injected with cancer cells. Those who were given toys to play with in their cages were […]

Culture & their fat Kentucky home

posted by Rod Dreher

Via The Browser, here’s a really good slice-of-life portrait of a small, rural Kentucky town where most people are obese. Excerpts: The residents of this town of 2,100 — 95 miles southeast of Lexington and deep in the Appalachian foothills […]

Pride and the eclipse of reason

posted by Rod Dreher

I was e-mailing this morning with a secular atheist liberal writer acquaintance who is working on a piece about why so many fellow secular liberals refuse, in her view, to face the plain facts about Islamism and Islamic radicalism. I […]

Marilynne Robinson vs. Scientism

posted by Rod Dreher

Here’s the best five minutes you’re likely to spend today: Jon Stewart’s interview with novelist Marilynne Robinson, discussing science and religion and her new book “Absence of Mind.” Robinson’s basic view is that scientistic reductionists claim too much for science, […]

The truths of Art and Religion

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Ross Douthat, here’s poet Christian Wiman on why, in approaching truth, Art and Religion can take us places that science, by its very nature, cannot: In the Gospels Jesus is always talking to the crowds in parables, which he […]

Meanwhile, back at the oil spill disaster

posted by Rod Dreher

The levels of toxic gases in the coastal air are so high that at least one scientist is telling residents they need to prepare to leave. Watch this WWL-TV report:If you haven’t thought about the spill in a couple of […]

Tierney to win peak oil bet

posted by Rod Dreher

In 2005, NYT columnist John Tierney bet a large sum of money with Houston oil guru Matt Simmons, on the future of peak oil. Tierney, a peak oil doubter, bet that the average price of a barrel of oil for […]

The problem with blindly trusting scientists

posted by Rod Dreher

You may have read that a British investigative panel cleared UK climate scientists of Climategate charges (that they had manipulated data to support political ends). But it was not a complete exoneration. Climate scientist Roger Pielke had this to say […]

How trustworthy are scientists anyway?

posted by Rod Dreher

This morning on the way into the office, I heard a radio discussion on the BBC on whether or not scientists and researchers ought to be more open for scrutiny in the wake of the East Anglia climate office scandal. […]

William James was a Wii designer

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Andrew, here’s a pretty interesting commentary by Jonah Lehrer in praise of the Wii as a videogame experience that fully engages the emotion because it engages the body in ways other videogame systems do not. Excerpt: To understand how […]

Holland + U.S. humility might have saved the Gulf

posted by Rod Dreher

A reader sends me this disturbing essay from the Financial Post about how the Netherlands reached out with offers of assistance and technical expertise after the BP blowout, but Washington rebuffed them. Excerpt: Three days after the BP oil spill […]

The neuroscientist’s shocking dark secret

posted by Rod Dreher

You’ve got to read or listen to this NPR story. It’s about neuroscientist Jim Fallon, who has made a career of studying the brains of psychopaths. A few years ago, his aged mother told him he should research his father’s […]

Against the cult of the amateur

posted by Rod Dreher

David Rieff says that yes, we have grown too trusting in the opinions of experts, who have proven themselves to be unreliable, but that we now face the opposite threat from the Cult of the Amateur. Excerpt: On both the […]

Raining oil in Louisiana

posted by Rod Dreher

Sure looks like it:Meanwhile, a robot knocked the containment cap loose. The thing is gushing once again as bad as it ever was. Query: What happens if a hurricane blows through the Gulf with all this oil still on and […]

Hey Sun, what’s your problem?

posted by Rod Dreher

A kind reader, knowing how I jones for Apocalyptica, sent along this link to a New Scientist story about how the sun is acting all freaky, and scientists don’t know why. Excerpt: But for the past two years, the sunspots […]

Oil spill: Do we need another hero?

posted by Rod Dreher

I’ve decided not to comment on Obama’s oil spill speech, because I haven’t been able to figure out how to appraise it without slip-sliding into a political analysis, and I don’t want to do that on this blog. But I […]

Oil spill: This will ruin your day

posted by Rod Dreher

I don’t know if you’re reading the website The Oil Drum, and its commentary on the BP oil spill, but it’s a site that attracts a lot of knowledgeable industry workers and experts. You can learn a lot from it. […]

Freaky reverse perspective video (must-see)

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Boing Boing, this video illustrates the principle of reverse perspective, in which objects farther away become bigger, while those closer grow smaller. Very cool, though I couldn’t get through it without getting dizzy: True Reverse Perspective from JMS on […]

Dear Britons, kindly shut up about BP

posted by Rod Dreher

Clive Crook is a Washington-based British journalist who is none too fond of the way President Obama has handled the oil disaster. But he is advising his countrymen to shut up their whining whinging about how mean angry Americans are […]

Orthodoxy contra Darwinism?

posted by Rod Dreher

A troubling development from Moscow: The Russian Orthodox Church called Wednesday for an end to the “monopoly of Darwinism” in Russian schools, saying religious explanations of creation should be taught alongside evolution. Liberals said they would fight efforts to include […]

The Cloud, the Clock & the limits of reductionism

posted by Rod Dreher

Andrew Sullivan, quoting the great science blogger Jonah Lehrer, who argues that “breaking things down into particles blinds scientists to the big picture.” Excerpt: Time and time again, an experimental gadget gets introduced — it doesn’t matter if it’s a […]

The magical allergy-curing hamburger

posted by Rod Dreher

OK, this is weird. Julie woke up this morning and had a massive allergy attack, which is different for her than it is for me. With me, I can feel some histamine-related swelling, but mostly it makes me feel really […]

Britons, has BP oil occluded your minds?

posted by Rod Dreher

I am truly amazed that so many Brits actually think American anger at BP is rooted in anti-British prejudice. But here’s the otherwise intelligent Geoffrey Wheatcroft going off like a tabloid loony in a loony tabloid: Has the worm turned […]

Attack of the grass!

posted by Rod Dreher

Feeling constantly run down from seasonal allergies is apparently the new normal with me. I have been trying hard to avoid going to see a doctor, but I am running out of options. Today, though, I got a sharp clue […]

Science, religion and Templeton: A defense

posted by Rod Dreher

The prominent science journalist Chris Mooney, author of (among other titles) “The Republican War on Science,” is one of the 2010 Templeton-Cambridge journalism fellows. This is the program I was on last summer. The first session is wrapping up in […]

Autism genes discovered. Cure, closer?

posted by Rod Dreher

From the BBC: The largest ever genetic study into autism has identified many more new genes involved in the disorder. Oxford researchers writing in the journal Nature hope now to establish whether genetic tests can help in making early diagnosis. […]

Peak oil, Klingons and Cylons

posted by Rod Dreher

Great post by Sharon Astyk about how the constructed media narrative around peak-oilers and others who are preparing for what they believe will be coming hard times is slanted toward a techno-optimism that is ahistorical and, in its way, stupid […]

The power of time perspective

posted by Rod Dreher

Watching this animated clip is the coolest 10 minutes most of us will spend today. It’s a lively illustrated lecture about Time, how people perceive it, and how it affects behavior. At about the three-minute mark, the professor introduces research […]

Against politically correct science legislation

posted by Rod Dreher

The NYT’s John Tierney says that Congress is trying to do a politically correct thing on science education rather than act on solid science. Here’s what he means: This proposed law, if passed by the Senate, would require the White […]

Life on Titan? There are positive signs

posted by Rod Dreher

Now this is interesting: scientists report data coming from the Cassini space probe indicating that there might be some form of life on Titan, a moon of Saturn. Maggie Koerth-Baker is cautiously optimistic. Excerpt: This is the kind of research […]

Oil spill: This is Louisiana

posted by Rod Dreher

I, for one, would like to thank BP and U.S. government regulators for making possible the following image from coastal Louisiana: See all the photos in AP photographer Charlie Riedel’s heart-rending series. And think of Louisiana. UPDATE: You really should […]

Science & religion incompatiblists shut out?

posted by Rod Dreher

Science + Religion Today draws attention to a controversy at the World Science Festival, on now in NYC. There’s a panel discussion about the relationship between science and faith. On the panel: astrophysicist Paul Davies, biologist Francisco J. Ayala — […]

US Gov’t: Surprise! Peak oil is here

posted by Rod Dreher

From Econbrowser, these remarks by Steven Kopits, a New York energy consultant: The EIA, the statistics arm of the US Department of Energy, recently released its International Energy Outlook (IEO) for 2010. This is an important document for forecasters, as […]

Oil spill: Headed to the Atlantic?

posted by Rod Dreher

A computer simulation of where BP’s oil is likely to go if it gets into the loop current:From the Wired.com story: It is impossible to accurately predict precisely what will happen to the oil because it will depend on the […]

Icarus and the Black Hole

posted by Rod Dreher

Astrophysicist Brian Greene talks with an Atlantic correspondent about his work with composer Philip Glass on “Icarus At the Edge of Time,” a re-imagining of the Icarus myth. The work debuts this week at the World Science Festival in NYC. […]

Louisiana, oil spill is your fault too

posted by Rod Dreher

So says columnist James Gill in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, citing the way the state has been governed for years not with the public’s interest in mind, but with the interests of the oil companies. Excerpt: We have so much […]

Black Swans and BP

posted by Rod Dreher

David Leonhardt says that yes, BP had a reputation for cutting safety corners, but we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that the rest of us are immune to falling into the same cognitive trap that the oil giant’s executives […]

The never-ending allergy season

posted by Rod Dreher

Guess what? It’s still allergy season for me. Last week things seemed to be improving, but I woke up this morning hit hard with the stuff. When I’m like that, it’s hard to get out of bed, so I kept […]

Internet is rewiring our brains

posted by Rod Dreher

Nicholas Carr, in Wired: When first publicized, the findings were greeted with cheers. By keeping lots of brain cells buzzing, Google seemed to be making people smarter. But as Small was careful to point out, more brain activity is not […]

Did top-kill get the real oil spill hole?

posted by Rod Dreher

Oil industry expert Matt Simmons makes a pretty disturbing case for why the leak BP is showing on its video could not be the real leak — which he argues from the evidence is far worse than what they’re letting […]

What if there is no oil spill fix?

posted by Rod Dreher

The other night I took the train home from Washington. I found it frustrating that there was only one train to Philadelphia within a large-ish swath of time, and frustrating that I had to wait on a train at 30th […]

Gulf of Mexico as BP’s slop bucket

posted by Rod Dreher

I sat in the car in the parking garage of my office this morning, listening to an LSU scientist talk about the oil spill on a radio show. He said that before this is over, we could see oil onshore […]

Is the ‘autism diet’ really ineffective?

posted by Rod Dreher

Yesterday I saw a story about a study showing that the “autism diet” (gluten-free, casein-free) had not demonstrated effectiveness in treating kids on the autism spectrum. I passed that along to a Philadelphia friend and reader of this blog who […]

Brave new scientists create synthetic life

posted by Rod Dreher

Dr. Craig Venter and crew have designed the entire DNA of a cell, and caused it to live. It’s the first-ever wholly synthetic living cell. Excerpt: The researchers constructed a bacterium’s “genetic software” and transplanted it into a host cell. […]

Where is the oil spill going?

posted by Rod Dreher

To the left, a May 17 NASA photo of the oil slick, e-mailed by a reader (thanks Randy). I have been wondering why we haven’t seen beaches and marshes along the Gulf Coast inundated with oil. Didn’t you expect that […]

Science patriotism and scoundrels

posted by Rod Dreher

Philosopher Carlin Romano can’t stand the egotistical way some would-be defenders of science go about their work. Excerpt: Standing up for science excites some intellectuals the way beautiful actresses arouse Warren Beatty, or career liberals boil the blood of Glenn […]

Physicists stub the toe of God

posted by Rod Dreher

New results from FermiLab may explain how it was that anything at all exists. Excerpt: Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are reporting that they have discovered a new clue that could help unravel one of the biggest mysteries […]

The Current Crisis Theory of Everything

posted by Rod Dreher

You regular readers know that I have said here that I see a connection between the obesity crisis and the indebtedness crisis in the US — and that that connection is a moral refusal, conscious or unconscious, to live within […]

Michio Kaku and the Theory of Everything

posted by Rod Dreher

Physicist MIchio Kaku says that string theory is the closest thing we have to a Theory of Everything that “will in a sense summarize everything we know about the physical laws governing the universe we live in.” He goes on: […]

Truth, history and the Toynbee Convector

posted by Rod Dreher

Well, like I said I’d do last week, I went to a bookstore and bought some Ray Bradbury — a collection of 100 of his short stories. My 10 year old son is halfway through it, and loves it. I […]

Underwater oil avalanche and a dead zone

posted by Rod Dreher

With all that oil gushing out of the BP well in the Gulf, haven’t you been wondering where the oil is, and why the slick hasn’t gotten bigger, or started rolling in giant waves onto shore? I have. Well, they […]

Technology: The god that failed in the Gulf

posted by Rod Dreher

The WaPo’s Joel Achenbach on where our worship of the false god of Technology can lead us: There have been blowouts since the dawn of the oil drilling industry, but never a blowout like this. This one is the deepest […]

Dogs in space? Yes — with soy sauce

posted by Rod Dreher

How far we’ve come since Laika: Yang Liwei, the 44-year-old military pilot who commanded the Shenzhou Five mission in 2003, revealed the menu on-board the spacecraft in his autobiography, The Nine Levels between Heaven and Earth. “Many of my friends […]

What do we mean by ‘soul’?

posted by Rod Dreher

Philosopher Stephen Asma is irritated by the imprecise way students use the word “soul.” He says that science cannot prove the existence of the soul, so it’s an extremely dubious concept to use when philosophizing. But he believes he’s come […]

Lose the humanities, lose the human

posted by Rod Dreher

Patrick Deneen writes that the woebegone state of humanities education is not simply a legacy of the Sixties, with its Marxist fetish for oppression studies, but actually is the result of a process that began centuries ago. In short, it’s […]

Misery of the fake Mars mission

posted by Rod Dreher

This sounds horrible: six crewmen will have to live in a small space capsule for 520 days, so scientists can observe the psychological effects of a mission to Mars. They’ll even have to eat food stored on board from Day […]

No easy villains in Gulf oil spill

posted by Rod Dreher

Lisa Margonelli delivers the discomfiting truth that there are probably no easy villains in the Gulf oil spill disaster — and what that means for our reliance on “easy” oil. Excerpt: Where did that oil spill go? We’ve got millions […]

How the BP oil spill is like Chernobyl

posted by Rod Dreher

Dmitri Orlov makes a case. Excerpt: The political challenges, in both cases, centered on the inability of the political establishment to acquiesce to the fact that a key source of energy (nuclear power or deep-water oil) relied on technology that […]

The cost of chemicals in our lives

posted by Rod Dreher

Reader Conor sends a report about how the extensive use of the weedkiller Roundup has resulted in the emergence of Roundup-resistant weeds. Excerpt: Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous […]

How to avoid epistemic closure

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Andrew Sullivan, I find a rather helpful list of suggestions from Will Saletan about how to avoid epistemic closure. The broader Internet discussion started as an inquiry into whether or not conservatives today can be described as closed to […]

Epistemic closure and what Ratzinger knew

posted by Rod Dreher

At the risk of beating a dead horse (but when has that ever stopped me?), I want to bring the epistemic closure discussion to bear on what Cardinal Ratzinger knew, or should have known, about the Maciel scandal, and related […]

The malleability of memory

posted by Rod Dreher

A friend the other day mentioned a fellow of her acquaintance who likes a good story so much that he frequently embellishes — and then tells the story so many times that he starts to believe the embellishment. He should […]

BP in ’09: Oil catastrophe can’t happen here

posted by Rod Dreher

Well, well, well: BP suggested in a 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well that an accident leading to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals was unlikely, or virtually impossible. […]

Science vs. Religion: What do scientists say?

posted by Rod Dreher

I dropped by a colleague’s office today carrying a copy of a new Oxford University Press book, “Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think,” by Elaine Howard Ecklund. “Have you seen this?” I asked her. “It’s really great.” “You know,” […]

Last train out of Venice

posted by Rod Dreher

A report from Venice, La, a fishing center and ground zero for the fight to save the coast from the oil slick. Meanwhile, a friend in south Mississippi just e-mailed: I just finished my lunch of boiled crabs and beer, […]

Steve Jobs hates Flash. Here’s the secret why.

posted by Rod Dreher

Did you read Steve Jobs’ letter explaining why he’s down on Adobe’s Flash? I got bogged down and bored by it. But this analysis by Charlie Stross is anything but boring. Excerpt: If you’re using an iPad in 2015, my […]

Oil spill catastrophe a game changer?

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Andy Revkin’s blog, a Drexel University professor speculates as to how the rolling disaster unfolding in the Gulf will play out: This could have an enormous political impact. That type of spill size will eventually reach recreational areas, and […]

Hey Aspie, you might get rich!

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Jonah Lehrer, here’s a Vanity Fair excerpt from Michael Lewis’s new book, in which a one-eyed California man who always thought his social awkwardness was due to his partial blindness, and who stumbled into becoming a very rich investor. […]

Culture and epistemic closure

posted by Rod Dreher

Tired of the epistemic closure discussion? Me neither. A Texas reader sends along this post from the excellent science writer/blogger Jonah Lehrer, who discusses how becoming enculturated within a particular group involves epistemic closure. Excerpt: The process of enculturation doesn’t […]

Gulf catastrophe perhaps worst oil spill ever

posted by Rod Dreher

A Canadian oil spill expert tells the BBC today that the Louisiana oil spill is going to dwarf the Exxon Valdez disaster, and with the possible exception of the Kuwait oil field fires following the first Gulf War, will be […]

The body, the Tao and epistemic closure

posted by Rod Dreher

Further to the discussion on epistemic closure, consider science blogger Jonah Lehrer’s post about poker faces and brain testing. Excerpt: The larger lesson is that the brain can’t escape its embodiment. Even abstract information – and what’s more abstract than […]

Carbs: The source of all evil

posted by Rod Dreher

Hey, how about this, from Scientific American?: Eat less saturated fat: that has been the take-home message from the U.S. government for the past 30 years. But while Americans have dutifully reduced the percentage of daily calories from saturated fat […]

Gulf oil slick — a satellite view

posted by Rod Dreher

Here’s a NASA shot of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as seen from space: This shocked me. I had no idea it was so large. Where is that oil going to go when it hits shore? Louisiana? Mississippi? Alabama? […]

Climate change threatens wine industry

posted by Rod Dreher

OK Mister Global Warming, it’s one thing when you cause glaciers to melt, threaten piddly Pacific islands with inundation, and promising a future of bleak migration and misery for millions, but when you start threatening Your Working Yuppie Boy’s wine […]

The epistemic closure of the ideological mind

posted by Rod Dreher

In response to my post last week about epistemic closure, the blogger Anonymous Liberal, whom I questioned in the post, has responded. Here’s part of what he wrote: Similarly, there is a major difference between someone who makes a real […]

Hawking: “Talking to aliens? MYOB.”

posted by Rod Dreher

Physics demigod Stephen Hawking sensibly says we should mind our own business on the subject of extraterrestrial life. Excerpt: Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could […]

Is goodness universal?

posted by Rod Dreher

I keep pointing my readers to the Templeton symposium on the question of what reason has to do with morality because it raises so many questions in my mind. From Antonio Damasio’s essay: The mechanisms behind such behaviors [that we […]

Climate’s not the only thing changing

posted by Rod Dreher

Thought-provoking piece on Slate today about a NOAA report forecasting what’s facing the weather agency between now and 2035. Slate writer Jim Tankersley takes the data and foresees climate-driven social and political change coming down the road. Excerpt: Mass migrations […]

C. gattii, the bisexual killer fungus

posted by Rod Dreher

Deadly omnisexual spores spreading disease in Washington, Oregon and thereabouts, killing one out of every four people who get the stuff. It’s airborne, and lays into healthy people. More: If C. gattii keeps having sex and spreading, its next victims […]

News flash: We are all epistemically closed

posted by Rod Dreher

There has been a lot of commentary on the political blogs around the concept of “epistemic closure,” which is a fancy way of saying “closed-mindedness.” The point of discussion has been on whether or not conservatives today are “epistemically closed,” […]

Oxytocin: the “trust us” medicine?

posted by Rod Dreher

Here’s an interesting report from NPR about the possible connection between distrust of government and the presence in the brain of oxytocin. I wrote not long about about research scientist Dr. Paul Zak (full disclosure: a Templeton grantee) and his […]

Science, religion and ways of knowing truth

posted by Rod Dreher

Andrew Brown on the problem with “natural theology”: But neither is it satisfactory for Christianity to retreat entirely from the world of facts about the world and to suppose that God is merely a matter of opinion, not of truth. […]

Peak phosphorus, or, for want of a nail

posted by Rod Dreher

Reflecting on how the Icelandic volcano brought much of life in Europe — especially economic life — to a near-standstill in Europe, badly inconvenienced travelers waxed philosophical: “I think Europe weirdly needs this kind of occasion to be reminded that […]

Why this Earth mother hates Earth Day

posted by Rod Dreher

Happy Earth Day. Sharon Astyk thinks its all b.s.; here’s part of the reason why: I see Earth Day as the new Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, a Hallmark holiday for us to give lip service to the environment. There […]

The next volcano could doom us

posted by Rod Dreher

So says Simon Winchester, who wrote a book on Krakatoa. Excerpts: But others of the 47 known VEI-8 volcanoes are more alarmingly recent. Taupo in New Zealand erupted with mega-colossal force some 22,500 years ago. The newer of the great […]

Fat AND crazy. Great, just great.

posted by Rod Dreher

News from The New York Times that makes you want to take the tire around your 43-year-old midsection back to bed: Being fat is bad for your brain. That, at least, is the gloomy conclusion of several recent studies. For […]

Sorry Hollywood, time travel a no-go

posted by Rod Dreher

Physicist Sean Carroll explains why time travel isn’t likely (it has to do with entropy), and how Hollywood and fiction writers fail to get the science right: Q. YOU WRITE THAT THE NATURE OF TIME IS SUCH THAT WE CAN’T […]

What if airplanes ceased to exist?

posted by Rod Dreher

The skies over northwestern Europe are largely free of airplanes these days, thanks to the volcano. I remember how strange it was in New York City on the days immediately following 9/11, when you neither saw nor heard aircraft, except […]

Hot mannequins and blind men!

posted by Rod Dreher

Are ideal female body types (according to heterosexual men) innate, or culturally conditioned by advertising and suchlike? Dutch researchers loaded sexy mannequins into the back of a van and visited with straight men who have been blind from birth to […]

What does all this seismic activity signal?

posted by Rod Dreher

What’s this?: The mouth of Hell? No, it’s an overhead radar image of the Icelandic volcano now ruining air travel in Europe. As blogger Stein Sigurddson writes of this anthropomorphic image, “The mind does some great interpolative associative processing ;-)” […]

Are we hard-wired for God?

posted by Rod Dreher

New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade has made a Darwinian case for the religion instinct. From Commonweal’s mostly favorable review of Wade’s book: Again, religion is important to Wade only because it is biologically adaptive: it has fostered the […]

Obesogenia, or, to be American is to be obese

posted by Rod Dreher

We had several threads about obesity here a few weeks back, and I urge anyone who felt strongly about them to, by all means, read the Atlantic essay by Marc Ambinder, who discussed obesity in America and his own decision […]

Digital power in the postmodern age

posted by Rod Dreher

A great Edge exchange between Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirky about how the Internet and digital technology works to affect power relations within polities. Morozov says he thinks techno-utopians in the press are taking a too-narrow view of how the […]

Psychedelic medicine on the rise

posted by Rod Dreher

John Tierney reports on doctors who are revisiting the therapeutic effects of psilocybin, psychedelic compound. Excerpt: The subjects’ reports mirrored so closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences, Dr. Griffiths said, that it seems likely the human brain is wired […]

Walker Percy and our deranged world

posted by Rod Dreher

It’s startling to realize that we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of Walker Percy’s death (May 10, 1990). Has he really been gone that long? What would he have to say to us today? I wish he were still […]

Slow minds = creative minds

posted by Rod Dreher

I’ve mentioned in this space before that one of the most striking interviews I ever did as an arts journalist was with the actor John Hurt, who gave a stunning performance in a small indie film called “Love and Death […]

Evolution defense behind theologian’s ouster?

posted by Rod Dreher

Shocking news from the world of Protestant theology: Bruce Waltke, arguably the pre-eminent Old Testament scholar in the field, has resigned from the Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando. Why? It’s not clear, but this comes right after he was excoriated by […]

The Tiger Woods effect

posted by Rod Dreher

Jonah Lehrer reports on research showing that competing against people who are far and away better does not make you better, but causes you instead to shut down. Excerpt: According to a paper by Jennifer Brown, an applied macroeconomist at […]

Cancer, death and denial

posted by Rod Dreher

Yesterday’s New York Times published a riveting account of a young doctor who became a leader in palliative care for terminally ill patients, who ended up denying her own training and advice (so to speak) when she became terminally ill […]

The agony of lung cancer

posted by Rod Dreher

I spoke with my mother this morning on the way to work, and she was telling me in detail how much my sister Ruthie is suffering from the heavy chemotherapy she’s on to fight her lung cancer. It’s absolutely heartbreaking […]

Stewart Brand: Underpopulation hurts the environment

posted by Rod Dreher

A Chicago area reader passes along a Boston Globe Ideas section Q&A in which Stewart Brand, pioneering environmentalist and author of “The Whole Earth Catalog,” sounds the alarm about the dangers of underpopulation. Excerpt: IDEAS: So as people start to […]

“Neigh” doesn’t always mean no, darling

posted by Rod Dreher

From — believe it or not — Scientific American, research psychologist Jesse Bering’s charming reflections on how science is paving the way for an even wider celebration of diversity. Excerpt: In any event, philosophical questions aside, I simply find it […]

Francisco Ayala wins the Templeton Prize

posted by Rod Dreher

At this moment, I’m at the National Academy of Sciences watching biologist Francisco Ayala named as winner of the 2010 Templeton Prize. Ayala, a former Dominican priest, is being recognized in part for his work in reconciling evolution with Christian […]

Cancer and enlightenment

posted by Rod Dreher

In “The Quantum and the Lotus,” a book-length dialogue between astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan (born a Buddhist), and former scientist Matthieu Ricard, who left the Pasteur Institute to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Ricard writes of why he abandoned his […]

A philosopher battles scientism

posted by Rod Dreher

Philosopher Edward Feser, on why scientism — the view that science is the only valid way of knowing — is philosophically incoherent: Part I here, part II here. Excerpt: Why would anyone be attracted to such a bizarre and muddleheaded […]

How might the world end? Scientists guess.

posted by Rod Dreher

Big Think asked scientists and scientific types for their best guesses as to how the world might end. A cheerful video series!

Doubts about Darwin

posted by Rod Dreher

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Ruse, the historian and philosopher of science, considers recent skepticism about Charles Darwin voiced not by creationists, but by eminent philosophers. Excerpt: Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini were an isolated case, one could dismiss […]

Eyes (and brains) worn out from modernity

posted by Rod Dreher

The NYT Magazine examines the controversial field of behavioral optometry, which holds that many kids diagnosed with ADHD and other modern maladies are actually suffering from neurological problems that can be cured or at least ameliorated with eye therapy. Though […]

The Cloud of Knowing

posted by Rod Dreher

The visionary David Gelernter, one of the smartest people on the planet re: the Internet, says “it’s time to start taking the Internet seriously.” These excerpts can’t begin to do justice to the ideas in his short essay, but they’ll […]

Your living will may be invalid

posted by Rod Dreher

Reader Helen writes: I thought of your blog when I saw this post at the NY Times’s New Old Age blog. Apparently a new directive from Catholic bishops requires assisted nutrition and hydration in all Catholic hospitals and nursing homes, […]

What will we say to the aliens?

posted by Rod Dreher

Here’s a Guardian journalist’s pleasant lunchtime excursion with the superbrilliant cosmologist Paul Davies, who is in charge of the group of eminent scientists in charge of coming up with something non-stupid to say to aliens if ever they make contact. […]

Scientific knowing, religious knowing

posted by Rod Dreher

Gary Zukav, who wrote “The Dancing Wu Li Masters,” has this famous aphorism: Acceptance without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western religion, rejection without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western science. I thought of it when I read […]

Ideology 1, science 0

posted by Rod Dreher

Oh brother: Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools. More: […]

‘A New Age of Wonder.’ Really?

posted by Rod Dreher

The big science and tech thinkers in the orbit of Edge.org recently held a grand dinner in California, on the theme of “A New Age of Wonder.” The title was taken from a Freeman Dyson essay reflecting on how the […]

Fewer jobs, fewer baby boys

posted by Rod Dreher

A new University of California study finds a rise in miscarriages of frail male children. Why? Look: The researchers, led by Ralph Catalano and Claire Margerison Zilko, write that the previously reported health effects of economic insecurity may “represent only […]

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming

posted by Rod Dreher

This morning we at Templeton launched a new online version of our magazine In Character, which ceases print publication with its current issue. IC is going to be a web-only publication now, and will be updated frequently. Check it out […]

Bad news for fat people

posted by Rod Dreher

Well, this stinks. Excerpt: But bodies don’t gain or lose weight indefinitely. Eventually, a cascade of biological changes kicks in to help the body maintain a new weight. As the JAMA article explains, a person who eats an extra cookie […]

Does Templeton “buy off” journalists?

posted by Rod Dreher

The John Templeton Foundation — for which I now work, please note — has announced winners of its 2010 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion. They are: Qanta Ahmed, Contributor, Huffington Post, and Broadcast Commentator John Farrell, Freelance Journalist […]

Freedom of choice, freedom from choice

posted by Rod Dreher

Remember that Devo song “Freedom of Choice” ? Especially this lyric: Freedom of choice is what you got/Freedom from choice is what you want Turns out they were right. From today’s NYT, a column about scientific findings showing that people […]

And that’s why they call them killer whales

posted by Rod Dreher

Jim Nash states the bleeding obvious. Excerpt: You take 32 feet of muscle, teeth and brains out of the ocean, put it in a featureless tank the size of Graceland, force it to act like an idiot in public, and […]

Health as harmony

posted by Rod Dreher

More from that Krista Tippett interview with Dr. Sherwin Nuland I blogged about yesterday — an excerpt from a Nuland book: Always, the purpose of treatment is only to restore nature’s balance against disease. There is no recovery unless it […]

Toxins and autism

posted by Rod Dreher

Nicholas Kristof reports growing evidence that there is a connection: Concern about toxins in the environment used to be a fringe view. But alarm has moved into the medical mainstream. Toxicologists, endocrinologists and oncologists seem to be the most concerned. […]

Temple Grandin: We’re failing our geeks

posted by Rod Dreher

In her TED talk, Temple Grandin gives an overview of how people on the autism spectrum think, and makes a brief case for neurological diversity as a benefit to society. She says that in most places, we have no idea […]

Family medicine: Small is beautiful?

posted by Rod Dreher

I e-mailed a physician friend and medical school professor today to tell him about Dr. Tim Lindsey, and the incredible personal care he’s giving to my cancer-stricken sister, who recently became his patient. I recalled for my friend a conversation […]

Atheist scientist duns Darwinism

posted by Rod Dreher

Now this is combustible stuff: a Salon interview with Jerry Foder, a cognitive scientist and philosopher who does not believe in God, but who says Darwinism is built on a shaky foundation. Excerpt: Do you think people are defending Darwinism […]

What good has intelligent design done?

posted by Rod Dreher

Not much, either for science or religion, says physicist Stephen Barr. Excerpt: None of this is to say that the conclusions the ID movement draws about how life came to be and how it evolves are intrinsically unreasonable or necessarily […]

Acid and our oceans

posted by Rod Dreher

Carl Zimmer has very bad news: A new study says the seas are acidifying ten times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. And, the study concludes, current changes in ocean chemistry […]

Learning from chickens

posted by Rod Dreher

A poultry-positive reader in Colorado Springs passes along this recent UK essay about what one learns about science and the nature of life from watching chickens. Excerpt: Watching chickens is a very old human pastime, and the forerunner of psychology, […]

The good doctors do

posted by Rod Dreher

A New York Times story today about doctors who rushed to Haiti to do rescue work, and who feel emotionally broken over those they weren’t able to help contains this haunting passage: In Uganda, three weeks away from her return […]

Darwin & Gray: How to talk about science and religion

posted by Rod Dreher

Via a New Scientist blog, here’s a nifty notice of the stage play “Re: Design,” built on the real-life 40-year correspondence between Charles Darwin and his friend, Harvard botanist Asa Gray, who accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution without losing his […]

The end of the Space Age

posted by Rod Dreher

Ross Douthat says that it makes sense that the U.S. government is abandoning manned space exploration, at least for the time being. He approvingly quotes John Derbyshire, who says: From the beginnings of modern science in the late 17th century, […]

The skyscraper or the cathedral?

posted by Rod Dreher

David Schaengold finds the skyscraper to be the emblematic building of the age of science, and the observation deck on some of them to be akin to a cathedral’s high altar. Excerpt: Nothing like the scientific method was found in […]

The miracle of forgiveness

posted by Rod Dreher

After last night’s bleak post about man’s inhumanity to man, I wanted to counter with a post about something awesome: man’s capacity for forgiveness and healing. On my Templeton-Cambridge seminar last summer, my friend and colleague Amy Sullivan presented a […]

Modernity and seeing through a glass, darkly

posted by Rod Dreher

I’m really enjoying Templeton Prize winner Charles Taylor’s massive tome, “A Secular Age.” Unlike most philosophers, Taylor is a crystal-clear writer, and has the gift of being able to discuss profound and complex thoughts without giving himself over to impenetrable […]

Everything’s a hologram

posted by Rod Dreher

That’s the implication of a new cosmological finding. Excerpt from the report in New Scientist: If this doesn’t blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger […]

Information, the basis of reality?

posted by Rod Dreher

Via the physics blog on MIT’s Technology Review site, here’s fascinating news from the world of quantum physics, about the potential for using quantum principles to teleport energy. Excerpt: Just how we might exploit the ability to teleport energy isn’t […]

Faith, reason and paradigm shifts

posted by Rod Dreher

Writing in The Guardian, Mark Vernon comments on a recent Cambridge University lecture delivered by the major philosopher and Templeton Prize winner Charles Taylor, who spoke about religion and science. Taylor reportedly said that in the conventional understanding of faith […]

When social science won’t cooperate

posted by Rod Dreher

I have avoided blogging about gay marriage since starting this new blog, because without fail, gay marriage threads on Crunchy Con were examples of 99 percent heat/1 percent light. This new blog is not meant to be polemical, especially not […]

Oxytocin, the con man’s secret weapon

posted by Rod Dreher

So, we’ve been in a big day-long meeting at the Foundation, and one of the things I learned was about how we helped fund Dr. Paul Zak’s research into the role the brain chemical oxytocin plays in warm, fuzzy emotions. […]

The amazing tale of Henrietta Lacks

posted by Rod Dreher

Now this sounds like a book I want to read. Excerpt from the NYT review: The best book blurb I’m aware of came from Roy Blount Jr., who said about Pete Dexter’s 1988 novel, “Paris Trout”: “I put it down […]

Researchers: Now abstinence education works?

posted by Rod Dreher

Big new federal study finds that abstinence education can work. Excerpt: In the first carefully designed study to evaluate the controversial approach to sex ed, researchers found that only about a third of 6th and 7th graders who went through […]

G x E, or, how to think of genius

posted by Rod Dreher

David Shenk: Genes are always interacting with the environment, so the new way to think about this is that it’s not nature plus nurture on nature versus nurture. If anything it’s nature interacting with nurture if you have to use […]

Would you cure your kid’s Down syndrome?

posted by Rod Dreher

Reader Helen sent a link to this discussion from a NYT blog entry asking whether or not a parent should cure his child’s Down syndrome if a cure became available. My first response is, “Absolutely” — but it turns out […]

Empathy’s dark side

posted by Rod Dreher

Just up on the Templeton Foundation’s YouTube channel is a nine-part conversation between the eminent primatologist and psychologist Frans de Waal and Discover magazine’s Carl Zimmer about de Waal’s celebrated new book, “The Age of Empathy.” Note especially the final […]

All sex abuse victims traumatized? Maybe not

posted by Rod Dreher

Here’s a favorable review in today’s NYTimes of a new book, “The Trauma Myth,” by a Harvard psychologist. Here’s the book’s gist: For a graduate research project at Harvard in the mid-1990s, the psychologist Susan A. Clancy arranged to interview […]

Would space aliens need redemption?

posted by Rod Dreher

Via Science & Religion Today, we learn of a two-day Royal Society conference in London in which scientific big thinkers speculate on what alien life is likely to be like, if it indeed is ever discovered. A piece in New […]

M. d’Espagnat, the apophatic quantum physicist

posted by Rod Dreher

I’ve been at Templeton only two weeks, and all these great and fascinating things keep turning up. Yesterday after church, I spoke with a friend at coffee hour who, when I told him I’d gone to work for Templeton, spoke […]

Steven Pinker on the blank slate

posted by Rod Dreher

After liturgy yesterday, I was talking to a friend who was pleased to learn that I’d been at a dinner the other night with Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker. My friend, though an Orthodox Christian, finds reading the atheist scientist […]

Dr. Gould, small-town physician of the gods

posted by Rod Dreher

Last night I was up with insomnia and started poking around Facebook, which I never do. And what did I find? A tribute page to Alfred R. Gould, M.D., now retired, but in his day the small-town physician of myth. […]

Religion and empiricism

posted by Rod Dreher

I’m on a Wade Davis kick this week, so I do apologize for the repetition in this week’s blogging of these themes of religion, truth, and culture. But I find this stuff engaging at the moment, and appreciate your comments […]

Wade Davis on ancient religious knowledge

posted by Rod Dreher

Excerpt from a more recent TED talk by Wade Davis — the entire thing is in the video above — reflecting on the meaning of the worldwide web of religious knowledge: And if we slip from the realm of the […]

Crazy like Americans

posted by Rod Dreher

Utterly fascinating report from Ethan Watters, writing in The New York Times. Excerpt: In any given era, those who minister to the mentally ill — doctors or shamans or priests — inadvertently help to select which symptoms will be recognized […]

A black linguist defends Harry Reid

posted by Rod Dreher

As you know, this is no longer a politically partisan blog, but I do want to call your attention to the black linguist John McWhorter’s defense of Harry Reid re: the senator’s controversial remarks about Obama and black English. I […]

“Avatar” and cultural loss

posted by Rod Dreher

I finally made it to “Avatar” today. Whatever else there is to say about the film, it was well worth seeing for the visual spectacle alone. I saw it in 3D, and it was great fun. It’s also fun, in […]

The Internet and our thinking

posted by Rod Dreher

The Edge’s 2010 World Question survey is out today. The question, and answers: How is the Internet changing the way you think? I’m about to get on the road for the long drive back to Texas, so I don’t have […]

Hooray! A Walker Percy documentary

posted by Rod Dreher

Via First Things and Doug LeBlanc comes fantastic news! Watch: About the filmmaker.

The future of Britain’s food

posted by Rod Dreher

The UK government has announced a new “food security” policy — and it’s not going to make localists happy. Excerpt: Imported beef. Genetically modified potatoes. The disappearance of those handy labels that tell you just how far your green beans […]

Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!! ...

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done ...

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the ...

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to! ...

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a ...

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.