Are the social sciences “real” science?

YouTube channel Crash Course is starting a new series on what is perhaps the most social of social sciences: Sociology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnCJU6PaCio The social sciences, such as sociology, but also psychology, economics, anthropology, and other similar fields get a lot of grief from people about not being "real" science.  This criticism is typically justified by noting … Continue reading Are the social sciences “real” science?

What do scientific theories actually tell us about the world?

One of the things that's exciting about learning new things, is that often a new understanding in one area sheds light on what might seem like a completely separate topic.  For me, information about how the brain works appears to have shed new light on a question in the philosophy of of science, where there has long … Continue reading What do scientific theories actually tell us about the world?

Consciousness is composed of non-consciousness

The components of a thing are not individually the thing. For example, the components of the chair I type most of my blog posts from are not the chair itself, but the wood of the frame, the springs for the back and bottom, some metal parts for the reclining mechanism, the fabric coverings, cushions, etc. … Continue reading Consciousness is composed of non-consciousness

97% of the observable universe is forever unreachable

The other day, I was reading a post by Ethan Siegel on his excellent blog, Starts With a Bang, about whether it makes sense to consider the universe to be a giant brain.  (The short answer is no, but read his post for the details.)  Something he mentioned in the post caught my attention. But … Continue reading 97% of the observable universe is forever unreachable

First Peoples and Neanderthals

This weekend, I finished off the last of the 'First Peoples' PBS miniseries on prehistoric humans.  If  you've watched other documentaries on human prehistory and found them interesting, then you'll want to watch this one to get the latest findings.  It was fascinating.  (A lot of people have mentioned 'Becoming Human' to me, which I've … Continue reading First Peoples and Neanderthals

‘The Selfish Gene’: Classic science worth checking out

I don't usually read old science books.  After a decade or so, I find that their content tends to have too much dated material.  But 'The Selfish Gene' keeps coming up in conversations, not just because its author, Richard Dawkins, is the world's most famous atheist, but also because of its core message, that genes are … Continue reading ‘The Selfish Gene’: Classic science worth checking out

The evolution of the scientific method.

Empiricism, the idea that sensory experience is a source of knowledge, is ancient.  People have obviously learned through sensory experience as long as there have been people.  Studying the night skies gave ancient humans insight into the flow of the seasons, crucial knowledge as the agricultural revolution kicked into gear.  And farming techniques, medicinal practices, food … Continue reading The evolution of the scientific method.

There is only one dogma of science: truth is better than fantasy

Dave Pruett has a post up at the Huffington Post looking at a declaration of eight "eminent" scientists and scholars calling for science to move past its materialistic focus.  The list of authors in this declaration includes Rupert Sheldrake, whose TED talk was removed from the TED site last year after an outcry from the scientific community … Continue reading There is only one dogma of science: truth is better than fantasy

Free will persists even if your brain made you do it

The free will debate has been going on for millenia and, like most philosophical debates, shows little chance of being settled anytime soon.  A significant part of the debate is definitional: what do we mean when we say "free will."  We can argue endlessly about what the term should mean, but it turns out that what most … Continue reading Free will persists even if your brain made you do it

Is logic and mathematics part of science?

Last week was scientism week at Scientia Salon, and I reblogged a post by Coel Hellier on a defense of scientism, mostly by arguing that mathematics was actually part of science.  As I indicated in my comment on that reblog, while I agree with Coel that both logic and mathematics have foundations that are empirically … Continue reading Is logic and mathematics part of science?