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Cross-Check

Cross-Check

Critical views of science in the news

  • Are We Too Afraid of Nuclear Weapons?

    Are We Too Afraid of Nuclear Weapons?

    By John Horgan | July 1, 2015 |

    I recently attended the annual Dialogue of the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank that challenges conventional green thinking . What appeals to me most about Breakthrough isn’t its specific positions—such as its embrace of nuclear energy—but its optimism. […]

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  • Return of Electro-Cures Exposes Psychiatry's Weakness

    Return of Electro-Cures Exposes Psychiatry's Weakness

    By John Horgan | June 24, 2015 |

    Delving into the history of treatments for mental illness can be depressing. Rather than developing ever-more-potent therapies, psychiatrists and others in the mental-health industry seem merely to recycle old ones. Consider, for example, therapies that stimulate the brain with electricity. […]

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  • Oliver Sacks on Stage Fright

    Oliver Sacks on Stage Fright

    By John Horgan | June 20, 2015 |

    Neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks, about whom I’ve recently written two posts ( here and here ), has been a public figure for decades now. He has given countless lectures and interviews, including one at my school in 2008, when I asked him about his book Musicophilia and other topics. […]

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  • Cancer Kills More-and Costs More--in U.S. than in Europe

    Cancer Kills More-and Costs More--in U.S. than in Europe

    By John Horgan | June 8, 2015 |

    On this blog, I’ve often dwelled on the disturbing fact that Americans pay far more for health care per capita than any other nation in the world and yet have a relatively low life expectancy. We spend more, and yet we’re less healthy. […]

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  • Book by Biologist Jerry Coyne Goes Too Far Denouncing Religion, Defending Science

    Book by Biologist Jerry Coyne Goes Too Far Denouncing Religion, Defending Science

    By John Horgan | June 1, 2015 |

    Do we really need another book telling us how awful religion is? Biologist Jerry Coyne apparently thinks so. In Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible , he berates not only religious believers but even “accomodationists,” non-believers who think science and faith can find common ground. […]

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  • "Infidelity Gene" Hyped in New York Times

    By John Horgan | May 25, 2015 |

    The New York Times "Sunday Review" section has anointed Richard Friedman its go-to guy for touting behavioral genetics--or "gene-whiz science," as I prefer to call it. In March, Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, proclaimed that researchers had discovered a "feel-good gene," which "makes some people inherently less anxious, and more able to forget fearful and unpleasant experiences." As I pointed out on this blog , Friedman's claim—like virtually all reported linkages of complex human traits and disorders to specific genes (see Further Reading )--is based on flimsy, contradictory evidence. […]

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  • 25 Terrific Science(y) Books

    25 Terrific Science(y) Books

    By John Horgan | May 20, 2015 |

    The great physicist Steven Weinberg recently nominated his "best science books ," inspiring me to revisit a list of my favorites, posted four years ago. I've dusted off those entries and chopped them down from 40 to 25, listed in authorial alphabetical order. […]

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  • Oliver Sacks and the Binding Power of Rhythm

    Oliver Sacks and the Binding Power of Rhythm

    By John Horgan | May 18, 2015 |

    In my last post, an appreciation of neurologist and author Oliver Sacks , I described him as an "anti-theorist," who emphasizes the irreducible individuality of each of his patients. But Sacks has presented more conventional, specific theories about the brain and mind. […]

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  • An Appreciation of Oliver Sacks, Anti-Theorist of the Mind

    By John Horgan | May 10, 2015 |

    So many people are singing the praises of neurologist and author Oliver Sacks that I hesitate to chime in. In February, Sacks revealed in The New York Times that he has terminal cancer, and reviewers are now raving about his new autobiography, On the Move , and entire oeuvre. […]

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  • Profile of Steven Weinberg: from The End of Science

    By John Horgan | May 4, 2015 |

    In my last post Steven Weinberg, one of history’s greatest physicists, answers questions about progress—or the lack thereof–in particle physics, cosmology and politics . He comments on, among other topics, strings, multiverses, the anthropic principle, religion, evil, nuclear weapons and human progress. […]

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