May 15, 2013, 1:30 pm
David Birnbaum believes he has unified the fields of religion and science. He told me so in an e-mail. A book he wrote, Summa Metaphysica, Volumes I and II, “unifies the two fields—elegantly—and seemlessly” (sic).
In April of last year, Bard College devoted a three-day* conference to the role of metaphysics in science and religion, prompted by the “reflections flowing” from Birnbaum’s books, according to a program e-mailed to participants from prestigious institutions including Dartmouth, Grinnell, and Oxford. “We are especially pleased to announce that David Birnbaum will be present during discussion,” the program enthused.
Left unmentioned was that Birnbaum helped finance the conference, that he has no academic affiliation, and that his works are published by an entity that he himself runs, called “Harvard Matrix” or “Harvard Yard Press” or, as sometimes printed on the…
April 4, 2013, 2:13 pm
Prepare yourselves, dear readers: The United States of North America is coming.
Writing in the newest issue of Dædalus, two historians of science, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, have taken on a quixotic task: imagining a future historian looking back at our time, in an effort to tease out how we failed to avert a climate-caused collapse. Or, as they put it, how it came to be that “a second Dark Age” fell “on Western civilization, in which denial and self-deception, rooted in an ideological fixation on ‘free’ markets, disabled the world’s powerful nations in the face of tragedy.” (The full version of the article is online here.)
Known for their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, which examined the role of industry in casting doubts on the findings of scientists on cigarettes, climate change, and other topics, Oreskes, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, and…
November 8, 2012, 3:44 pm
In one of Dr. Seuss’s better-known tales of jealousy and prejudice, the Sneetches with stars on their bellies are considered superior to those without.
Now there’s more evidence that journals’ impact factors are similarly misleading.
A study published by three Canadian researchers has identified a two-decade-long trend in which the world’s top-ranked scientific journals are slowly losing their share of the most-cited articles.
The study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, found that in 1990, 45 percent of the top 5 percent of the most cited articles were published in journals whose impact factor was in the top 5 percent—publications like Cell, Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. By 2009, that rate had fallen to 36 percent, the authors found.
October 1, 2012, 3:35 pm
In the past two weeks, thousands of words have been published about these six: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …”
That bit of dialogue comes from a papyrus fragment written in Coptic and thought to date from the fourth century. Its existence was revealed by Karen L. King, a professor of divinity at Harvard, at the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies, in Rome. Even though King cautioned early and repeatedly that the fragment did not prove that Jesus had a wife, that immediately became the focus of popular discussion. BuzzFeed featured a video in which people were asked what they would get Jesus and his wife for a wedding gift (a blender was nixed since everyone already has one).
Among scholars, the discussion has focused on its authenticity. Francis Watson of Durham University, in…