Think Like a Scientist: Media and Writing

My Efforts to Show How Scientists Think About the Problems That Life Throws At Us


Fair enough?

Posted on July 13, 2014

Ockham's Razor, ABC Radio In Australia the topic of fairness is often discussed. For example we ask questions whether it's fair to raise the retirement age, we question whether our electoral system is fair, whether it's fair to allow racial abuse for the sake of freedom of speech etc. These and similar things involve social choices, choices we make as a group. Dr Len Fisher from the School of Physics at the University of Bristol suggests that ...

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Making Science Accessible

Interview on BBC Radio Wiltshire

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Letter to “Nature”: “Shaping policy: Science and politics need more empathy”

Nature Vol. 481 (2012) 29 Some important pointers for improving communication between scientists and politicians (Nature 480, 153; 2011) emerged from a meeting last year between the two groups, organized by the International Risk Governance Council. Support for fundamental research is essential, but scientists shouldn't be tempted to overstate their claims. Specifically, requests for funding for basic research into a particular question ...

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Wrong Turns and Dead Ends

A review of "Brilliant Blunders" by Mario Livy (published in Physics World, December 2013) Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein, Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe by Mario Livio (2013 Simon & Schuster £18.99 352pp) In his book Brilliant Blunders, Mario Livio offers a detailed and fascinating examination of major errors made by five great scientists – Charles ...

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Letter to Radio Times re Uri Geller

Posted on July 27, 2013

Radio Times, July 27 – August 2 (2013) A one-hour homage to Uri Geller? With no sceptical comment, and no reference to the number of times that this fake has been exposed on television and elsewhere? Shame, BBC, for so tarnishing your image, and shame especially to the scientifically illiterate programmer responsible for this travesty...

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Review of “Ona’s Flood”

(Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn, July 12-13, 2013) Bath Chronicle, July 17 (2013) A new suite of song texts performed in a Wiltshire tithe barn by an inexperienced community choir and a group of schoolchildren? Why should you be interested? Even when it is played as a companion piece to Benjamin Britten's famous "Noye's Fludde". But when the composer is Harvey Brough (remember Harvey and the Wallbangers?), when the theme of Noah's Flood is ...

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Risk and Resilience

Opening address to IRGC Expert Workshop "Governance of Slow-Developing Catastrophic Risk", Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue, June 27-28 (2013)

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Planning for Future Crises: Governance Principles for Slow-Developing Risks That May Have Potentially Catastrophic Consequences

European Society for Risk Analysis 22nd Conference, Trondheim, June 17-19 (2013) (with Marie Valentine-Florin) Many of the serious problems that we face today follow a similar pattern, where the effects of slow, imperceptible change go unheeded until they bring us to a point of rapid, usually irreversible, and often catastrophic, change. In this talk I discussed what we can do to predict such critical events and ameliorate their consequences ...

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Letter to “Nature”: “Scientific genius will continue to thrive”

Posted on February 28, 2013

Nature Vol. 494 (2013) 430 Dean Keith Simonton's contention that scientific genius is extinct (Nature 493, 602; 2013) invites comparison with Lord Kelvin's famous speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1900, in which he remarked, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." The discoveries of quantum mechanics and relativity soon made nonsense of ...

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Preparing for Future Catastrophes

International Risk Governance Council Report, February 2013 (http://www.irgc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/CN_Prep.-for-Future-Catastrophes_final_11March13.pdf ) Executive Summary: Many of the serious problems that we face today follow a similar pattern, where the effects of slow, imperceptible change go unheeded until they bring us to a point of rapid, usually irreversible, and often catastrophic, change. This underlying pattern of slow-d...

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