Is the lone genius a total myth?

The conventional view of history is filled with lone geniuses: men and women who, through talent and inspiration, achieved feats no one else had before. Pablo Picasso. Vincent van Gogh. Albert Einstein. Emily Dickinson.

Joshua Wolf Shenk…argues that the real driver of human creativity isn’t the lone genius, but the partnership.

Scientific Proof Is A Myth

So don’t try to prove things; try to convince yourself. And be your own harshest critic and your own greatest skeptic. Every scientific theory will someday fail, and when it does, that will herald a new era of scientific inquiry and discovery. And of all the scientific theories we’ve ever come up with, the best ones succeed for the longest amounts of time and over the greatest ranges possible. In some sense, it’s better than a proof: it’s the most correct description of the physical world humanity has ever imagined.

We hail individual geniuses, but success in science comes through collaboration

We need to celebrate this collaboration more than ever, because it doesn’t happen on its own. It needs an environment that encourages researchers to build international and interdisciplinary teams, to work in different countries, to attack problems that no one person, or nation, can solve alone.


Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience

From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the “three kinds of truth”

In this 5 minute clip, from the Joe Rogan podcast, Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses his idea of the three different kinds of “truth.” It’s an interesting discussion on the definition of the word but also the implications of how we use words. Short enough to be interesting but not so long as to be tedious. For a tedious conversation on truth, see the previous post on the conversation between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson.

I linked the video at the start of the relevant conversation.

Below is just the audioclip that you can stream just the audio if youtube is blocked and download below that if you just want the mp3 file.

Download Tyson 3 truths edit


Nosek was so taken with the importance of redoing old experiments that he had also rallied more than 50 like-minded researchers across the country to participate in something he called the Reproducibility Project. The aim was to redo about 50 studies from three prominent psychology journals, to establish an estimate of how often modern psychology turns up false positive results.

It was little wonder, then, that funders didn’t come running to support Nosek: He wasn’t promising novel findings, he was promising to question them. So he ran his projects on a shoestring budget, self-­financing them with his own earnings from corporate speaking engagements on his research about bias.

Thomas Bayes and the crisis in science

Science is currently said to be suffering a “replicability crisis”. Over the last few years a worrying number of widely accepted findings in psychology, medicine and other disciplines have failed to be confirmed by repetitions of the original experiments. Well-known psychological results that have proved hard to reproduce include the claim that new-born babies imitate their mothers’ facial expressions and that will power is a limited resource that becomes depleted through use. In medicine, the drug companies Bayer and Amgen, frustrated by the slow progress of drug development, discovered that more than three-quarters of the basic science studies they were relying on didn’t stand up when repeated. When the journal Naturepolled 1,500 scientists in 2016, 70 per cent said they had failed to reproduce another scientist’s results.

This crisis of reproducibility has occasioned much wringing of hands. The finger has been pointed at badly designed experiments, not to mention occasional mutterings about rigged data. But the only real surprise is that the problem has taken so long to emerge. The statistical establishment has been reluctant to concede the point, but failures of replication are nothing but the pigeons of significance testing coming home to roost.