–— surveys of religious opinion, stupid questions, and hidden agendas
Sometimes you hear of attempts to measure religious opinion by way of methods such as a survey.
Suppose someone prepares a survey. Suppose they prepare a form with a set of statements, and people are asked to respond to each statement by choosing between “true,” “false” or “don’t know”.
For a little Christmas fun, here is a third collection of jokes with a sciencey flavour. Click to enlarge the pictures.
What is the definition of a tachyon?
—It’s a gluon that’s not completely dry.
Doctor, doctor I’ve come out in spots, like cherries on a cake.
—Ah! You must have analogy.
[Image credit: C. Henze/NASA Ames Research Center]
The announcement of gravitational wave detection has made me decide to postpone the second part of the presentation of Peter van Inwagen’s paper that I began in my previous post.
I was very pleased and excited to hear the news from LIGO last week: the first direct detection of gravitational waves. These waves are sometimes called waves in spacetime itself, though one can equally well regard them as waves in a gravity field which extends throughout spacetime. However you see it, their detection opens up a new era in astronomy. In a loose comparison, it is as if up to now we have been able to see the universe, and now we are beginning to be able to hear it too.
This post is about biological evolution, and about the abuse of education and the abuse of the public promotion of science.
Gregor (Johann) Mendel
There seems to be a bit of a tussle going on over who can lay claim to the work of Gregor Mendel, the Augustinian monk who pioneered the quantitative study of inheritance and thus genetics. Was he a religious man doing good scientific work, an example of the fact that the two not only go together, but the former can promote the latter? Or was he a deist, perhaps a closet atheist, making a pragmatic choice to go along with some irksome religious constraints in order to gain the leisure to practice science without any genuine recognition of the role of prayer, or of the leadership shown by Jesus of Nazareth? For example, in his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins (writing a brief statement on this) chose to say