Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Science

Michio Kaku is Demonstrably Wrong about Free Will

The other day, I stumbled upon a YouTube video featuring Michio Kaku, the famous theoretical physicist and public intellectual. I usually appreciate his ability to explain complex scientific concepts in ways that are comprehensible for a lay audience, but in this video (entitled “Why Quantum Physics Ends the Free Will Debate“), Kaku stepped well outside his area of expertise and delivered a breathtakingly facile argument that any person with elementary academic training in philosophy can easily and demonstrably disprove.

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Science Gandalf: When Technology is Indistinguishable from Magic

As human technology develops, the way our gadgetry operates grows steadily less accessible to laypeople. Before the industrial revolution, it was relatively easy to understand how most human tools worked. Hammers hammer, hoes hoe, plows plow. As we’ve industrialized, we’ve begun to rely on more complicated scientific principles. Chemistry, electricity, non-Newtonian physics, computing, these things all grow steadily more important, yet only a very small portion of the population truly understands how any portion of these things operate, much less all of them. The rest of us live largely in the dark, and this has a curious effect–we increasingly blur the conceptual distinction between science and magic.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Wrong about Philosophy

I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s absolutely wonderful to have scientists as public intellectuals, making science more comprehensible to laypeople and raising its public profile. However, in a recent podcast, Tyson dismissed the intellectual value of philosophy. Given that I do quite a bit of that here, I feel a duty to stand up for myself and for those others who take an interest in political and moral philosophy. I wish to emphasize that I’m a great fan of much of Tyson’s work, and it pains me to have to write a piece like this about something he said, but it has to be done.

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Nye vs. Ham: The Broken Evolution/Creation Debate

Yesterday, on encouragement from my little brother, who is an aspirant aeronautical engineer and a huge Bill Nye fan, I watched the debate between Bill Nye (of Bill Nye the Science Guyand Ken Ham, who is president of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. I also ran across this piece on Buzzfeed, in which Ham supporters ask lots of questions that, based on what I’m reading on my Facebook, don’t seem especially reasonable to Nye’s guys. Instead of contributing to the internet flame war, I’d like to try to use what philosophical skills I have to highlight what precisely the difference is between the two positions, because the gulf is incredibly vast, more vast than I believe most of the participants on either side of this debate commonly understand.

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Extraterrestrials and Katy Perry

According to a recent story in GQ, Katy Perry (American pop star extraordinaire) believes in aliens. It would appear that her song “ET” for “extraterrestrial” speaks to a genuine article belief in foreign life forms. In our culture, belief in intelligent alien life is often treated like belief in religion–you either have it or you do not, and in either case there isn’t much evidence one can muster for either side. But I’d like to have a little fun and ponder this question. What is the most reasonable position for a person to have on the existence of aliens giving existent non-conspiratorial evidence?

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