Category Archives: Articles

My New Republic piece on the Pope and evolution

The New Republic has already published a slightly edited version of my post on Pope Francis’s views about evolution, and you can find it there under the title: “Stop celebrating the Pope’s views on evolution and the Big Bang. They make no sense.” As always, go over and see it, if for no other reason to […]

My New Republic piece on “atheism of the gaps”

The New Republic has published a revised version of my “atheism of the gaps” post from yesterday. In the magazine it’s now called “Atheists could learn a lot from religious people about how to win debates”. Give ‘em a click to keep the love and secularism flowing.  I’ve added a few references and a couple […]

My snake-handling piece in The New Republic, and a note

Just for the record, The New Republic has republished (with some changes) my website piece on the refusal of a Tennessee grand jury to indict a snake handler despite his blatant violation of the law. My revised piece is called “Snake handler not charged with abusing animals thanks to Tennessee definition of ‘religious freedom’.“ While […]

Atheism grows on campus

Just a quick but heartening note from the airport: a new article in Religion Dispatches, “Are atheists the new campus crusaders?”, discusses the growing influence of the secular movement on American college campuses. It highlights the Secular Student Alliance, but also mentions the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the Center for Inquiry, and the Secular Coalition for […]

Science writing: lite and wrong

UPDATE: Malcolm Gladwell has been nice enough to come here and defend his methods in a comment.  As always, be polite if you want to respond to that comment. ___________ Over at his eponymous website, writer and corporate consultant Eric Garland takes up an issue which has started to bother me lately: “science-lite” books that […]

My Evolution paper officially out

My paper on the relationship between acceptance of evolution, religion, and societal health is finally available for free at Evolution (you can see the early publication section here and download my pdf here; if the second link doesn’t work, just go to the first link and download my paper directly—it’s the 9th one down). There are […]

An EMBO report on science blogging

In the latest EMBO Reports (EMBO = European Molecular Biology Organization) there’s a piece by Howard Wolinsky, “More than a blog,” describing the new wave of blogging by scientists.  It discusses the genre, detailing all of its benefits and perils. And it quotes, among others, Rosie Redfield (exposer of the arsenic-bacteria problems), P. Z., Bora Zivkovic, […]

Science’s publication frenzy—and a solution

One of the onerous parts of being a research scientist is the pressure to publish lots of papers, which ranks second only to getting grants as a prime inducer of stress.  To obtain tenure or promotion, young scientists now must publish prolifically.  I remember that Mel Green, one of my mentors as a postdoc at […]

The racket of academic publishing

I’ve always thought that two of the most overpriced things in the world are lattes at places like Starbucks, and the prices of some academic journals.  Most laypeople, whose taxes go to fund scientific research through institutions like the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation, aren’t aware that if they want to […]

A strong critique of the “arsenic paper”

I’ve rarely seen a critique this strong in the reviewed scientific literature.  It’s about Wolfe-Simon et al.’s paper in Science suggesting that a bacterium could incorporate arsenic instead of phosphorus in DNA and biomolecules.  Simon Silver and and Le T. Phung take strong issue with this in a piece in the “current controversies” section of […]

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