Science

Facts are facts

The scientific method is one of the greatest achievements of humanity, but we still have people making health, medical, and environmental decisions based on superstition and/or denial of scientific evidence. Why do we battle progress? Why do we try to prevent the use of genetically modified food, or not vaccinate our children?

Michael Specter claims we are entitled to our opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts:

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Why most published research findings are false

It appears most research findings in medicine, biology, psychology, physics, and any number of other fields may be downright wrong:

There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field.

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How accurate are genetic tests?

What does it mean if a genetic test reports 99% chance of a match? Not as much as the general public believes:

Genetic-testing experts say such additional evidence is key to ensuring a positive identification and they have no reason to doubt the conclusion in the bin Laden case. But they say probabilities such as 99% or 99.99%—frequently tossed around in other cases involving DNA testing—can be misstated or misleading.

 

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We're not good at logic unless it involves social exchange

I like doing logic puzzles. I especially like when I find a mistake the author or publisher missed (I found several in the last book I was working on... so many that I stopped working on it out of frustration).

Most people I know are inherently bad with logic. I've known this for years. What I didn't know is that this is true for most logic problems, except when applied to social situations:

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Is cheap fusion closer than we think?

Fusion as an energy source has been "just over the horizon" for about two decades now. Some believe it will never happen. But some amazing breakthroughs have happened recently and real fusion may be practical in the short term. Here's a talk by Dr. Robert Bussard, a visionary with striking results in the lab. He has passed, but his work might very well lay the groundwork for cheap, clean power:

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