Neil Hall from the University of Liverpool has published a very interesting mini-study on scientists and Twitter. He developed a metric that compares the popularity of scientists on Twitter to the impact of their publications within peer-reviewed journals. The metric is called the Kardashian Index, a reference to the fact that Kim Kardashian became wildly popular for no apparent reason, and a wink at those scientists who get Twitter popularity without having accomplished as much as others in their scientific career. Neil Hall is not necessarily critiquing the individuals who use Twitter to their advantage – he simply creates a metric that finds discrepancies between Twitter popularity and scientific popularity. The idea is brilliant, but in my view the short article is based on an incorrect premise. The premise is that science and social media contributions are two fundamentally separate things that can be compared to each other. Continue reading
A couple of months ago, author Sam Harris challenged his readers to write an essay proving him wrong with respect to his book, The Moral Landscape. The winning essay was written by Ryan Born who holds a BA in cognitive science from the University of Georgia and an MA in philosophy from Georgia State University. The essay can be read here, and I extend my congratulations to the winner. Today I post my own essay which was among the 400 or so texts that were submitted to the contest. Continue reading
Does our understanding of neuroscience threaten the concept of moral responsibility? What is morality, empathy and how do progresses in brain research impact society? We discuss with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at Duke University. Continue reading
Anguish grips the country with news of another horrific mass murder. From local police to the Secret Service, law enforcement worry about the “lone wolf.” These are individuals with no criminal record, feeling alienated and angry, plotting spectacular murder and violence in secret. “Experts” lament that there is no way to track lone wolf killers, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The lone wolf is perhaps the easiest of all potential murderers to identify and stop before they act. Continue reading
I awoke this morning to a ferocious lightning storm. The house shook from thunderous booms. The predawn darkness blanched in blazing white flashes. Lightning is impressive; especially in contrast to the feeble bioelectricity generated by the body’s nerve cells. Or is that just an illusion? Neuroscientist Michael Persinger has done some back-of-the-envelope calculations that may surprise you.
Beginning on October 1, researchers seeking NIH grants must balance male and female cells and animals in their NIH funded research. Under the banner of ending sex bias, this new mandate appears to be a significant advance in the way research is done, but many scientists fear the well-intentioned directive is misguided. Continue reading
The phrase “hard wired for …” is increasingly popular. “Hard wired” is science fiction and should be abandoned. A quick google search of “hard wired for” results in a confusing list of “hard wired” behaviors: Continue reading