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flashdance.jpg Something happens when you see the links…


Nuclear receptors show evolution is the greatest tinkerer by GrrlScientist.

Four types of scientists by Virginia Hughes, half in jest.

At the Smallest Scale, Water Is a Sloppy Liquid. It used to be a philosophical staple that you couldn’t predict the properties of water from a knowledge of the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. Now look.

The Age of Discovery: If you can’t be a scientist, don’t cry about being a philosopher.

A Rose is a Rose, Except When it’s Called Something Else – Scientists love to name species – often more than once.

Which country has the best brains? Surely not the one that cannot work out per capita rates of Nobel Prizes.

Heritability and fitness; an excellent account of the concepts by Razib Khan.

Up To A Point, Prime Minister: Henry Gee argues in favour of science funding, even for conservatives.

Are autistic people natural born criminals? The answer is surprising.

History and Philosophy of Science

Is There a Conflict of Interest between STS and History of Science? Wil Thomas discusses…

and Yes, histories of science are worth reading! says Rebekah Higgit.

Experiment and Hypothesis, Theory and Observation: Wolff vs Newton by Alberto Vanzo.

Mind & Body: The Philosopher’s Body as a Subject by Jai Virdi. Also, Conversing in a Cyberspace Community: The Growth of HPS Blogging.

Byzantine Astrology during the Reign of Manuel I Komnenos by Darin at PACHSmörgåsbord.

How I got to know Joseph Moxon: On Asking the right Questions and The London Society of Astrologers by Thony Christie (also The Velvet Underground of Renaissance Mathematics, following the meme I passed on).

Galileo by David Wootton: review by Manjit Kumar.


What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

Philippa Foot, Renowned Philosopher, Dies at 90.

The study of society part five by Robert Paul Wolff.

God knows by Jeremy Bentham, who, despite not having a head, is still blogging.

The Nash Bargaining Solution by John D. A nice piece of explanation. He also has a series on The End of Skeptical Theism, which has just had another piece added. And this: Axiomatic Bargaining, Moral Constructivism and Infant Mortality.


LA Times Story on the New Atheist/”Accommodationist” Showdown in LA. Larry objects, as did PZ.

Modern Cosmology and Theology by Kenny Pearce.

In a Mirror, Darkly – another outline – Konrad Talmont-Kaminski’s book-in-progress


  1. Porlock Junior Porlock Junior

    A book claiming that Galileo was not really a Catholic seems inriguing if unlikely to be worth much. But the review doesn’t encourage me to look into it.

    I hope the reviewer got it wrong, and Wootton doesn’t actually assert that Galileo was ordered in 1616 not to teach heliocentrism. That alleged order, after all, is the subject of a long-running debate in H of S. Concerning this order there are two contemporary witnesses: an anonymous writer of some minutes for which no one even has the original or any information on the copy, saying that the order was given; and Saint Robert Cardinal Bellarmine(*), saying Galileo was given the order not to “hold or defend”, and he accepted this, and that’s all, everything’s fine with Galileo and me.

    But my hopes wilt when he later says that in 1633 Galileo claimed not to know of the order not to defend heliocentrism. It would not be easy to get the story more wrong than this.

    Perhaps Wootton’s only failing was not to write so simple-mindedly that even a reviewer in the Telegraph couldn’t get it wrong. Yes, that’s what I can still hope for.

    (*) I am reliably informed that this is the correct form; it’s not like General Sir John Buggingham.

  2. I must say your links are always enjoyable and informative (and not just because I am featured).

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      When one can’t write stuff [because of teaching], it’s good to find those who can…

  3. John Harshman John Harshman

    I have to say that I find your friend Jeremy Bentham (is this the Jeremy Bentham who used to be John Locke or the Jeremy Bentham who merely used to be Jeremy Bentham?) typical of the critics of the gnu atheists who criticize the religious and atheist fanatics equally, in that they carefully explain the faults of the religious and then merely assert that the atheists are talking nonsense of a similar sort, without specifying what the nonsense is or why it’s nonsense. If only Bentham had been there to counsel Napoleon during his (apocryphal?) conversation with LaPlace, he could have put LaPlace in his place just as firmly as Bentham puts Hawking in his.

  4. Thank you so much for linking to that water article, it is fascinating!

  5. John Harshman said: If only Bentham had been there to counsel Napoleon during his (apocryphal?) conversation with LaPlace

    The conversation actually happened; there was a witness (Sir William Herschel) who describes it in his diary. He doesn’t give us the snappy one-liner (“I have no need for that hypothesis”), which does seem to be apocryphal, and its origin is hard to say. The earliest mention of the one-liner in print seems to be by Augustus DeMorgan, who simply says of it that it was a common story in Paris.

    • John Harshman John Harshman

      It was of course the one-liner I was really talking about, which seems equivalent to Hawking’s statement.

  6. Unlike the town of LaPlace in Louisiana the name of the French mathematician and scientist does not have a capital ‘P’ in the middle 😉

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