Maths Study Shows Conspiracies ‘Prone to Unravelling’

It’s difficult to keep a conspiracy under wraps, scientists say, because sooner or later, one of the conspirators will blow its cover. A study has examined how long alleged conspiracies could “survive” before being revealed – deliberately or unwittingly – to the public at large. Read the rest at BBC News

Real-Time Reaction Polls Distort TV Debates

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

A few election cycles ago, a new feature was introduced to televised debates: The real-time reaction tracker. A small focus group of two dozen or so individuals use dials to indicate how much they agree or disagree with the statements being made by politicians during the debate. An aggregated average of these responses is then displayed in real-time for the viewing audience to see. Fascinatingly, this instant reaction poll appears to influence the opinions of the millions of people watching the debate at home. Continue reading

Why Psychology and Statistics Are Not Science

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

A few years ago, I caused considerable weeping and gnashing of teeth among psychologists for a piece I wrote explaining why psychology isn’t science. It was predicated upon a lengthier argument, which I co-authored with physicist Tom Hartsfield, on the difference between science and non-science. RCS Editor Ross Pomeroy followed up with his own haymaker, explaining why Sigmund Freud’s ideas — from penis envy to psychoanalysis — were not just whacky but unscientific and wrong. Continue reading

Women See Job Advancement as Less Desirable

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Quite rightly, our society identifies sources of disparity and works to eliminate them. One such disparity is the relative lack of women in top jobs, such as CEOs and professorships. There are multiple reasons for this, but the only politically correct one is discrimination. The data, however, often point to different conclusions. For instance, in April of this year, PNAS released a study that showed that women were preferred 2-to-1 in academic science jobs. Continue reading

What Scientists Really Think of the Public

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The stereotype of a scientist is that of a bespectacled, socially awkward nerd who would rather play with insects than interact with other members of his own species. According to this conventional wisdom, the hermit-like scientist sits perched in his Ivory Tower, stroking his microscope and looking with condescension and contempt upon the uneducated, unwashed masses below. Talk with them… about science? Humph. Why bother? Continue reading