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Cross-Check

Cross-Check

Critical views of science in the news

  • Copernicus, Darwin and Freud: A Tale of Science and Narcissism

    Copernicus, Darwin and Freud: A Tale of Science and Narcissism

    By John Horgan | 10 hours ago |

    In a recent column I wrote : “In spite of all the blows dealt to our egos by science—beginning with the demonstration that the Sun and not the Earth is the center of the Solar System—many of us remain convinced that this universe was created for us, and that our destiny is unfolding according to a pre-ordained divine plan.” The notion that heliocentrism was a blow to humanity’s narcissism is commonly attributed to Freud. […]

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  • Einstein and Science's Assault on Common Sense

    Einstein and Science's Assault on Common Sense

    By John Horgan | August 27, 2015 |

    Inspired by Scientific American ’s special issue on Einstein’s theory of relativity , I recently posted a revised version of an essay on Einstein that I wrote a decade ago for The New York Times . To balance out that essay, which celebrates Einstein, I’ve decided to post an edited, updated version of another Times essay, which is critical, relatively speaking. […]

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  • Einstein,

    Einstein, "The Anxiety of Influence" and "The End of Science"

    By John Horgan | August 25, 2015 |

    My last post, “ Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein ,” has me once again mulling over a thesis of my 1996 book The End of Science ( a new edition of which was republished last spring , as The New York Times recently reported ). […]

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  • Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein

    Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein

    By John Horgan | August 23, 2015 |

    Inspired by Scientific American ’s terrific September issue , which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity [see Addendum ], I’ve dusted off an essay I wrote for The New York Times a decade ago. […]

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  • Science, History and Truth at the Faculty Club

    Science, History and Truth at the Faculty Club

    By John Horgan | August 20, 2015 |

    How much bad writing has been inspired by Ulysses ? I have no idea, but I have made my own modest contribution to the genre. Several years ago, inspired by re-reading James Joyce’s masterpiece ( see my appreciation here ), I wrote a fictionalized, stream-of-consciousness account of a day in my life. […]

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  • Historian Contemplates

    Historian Contemplates "Ugly" Reality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    By John Horgan | August 5, 2015 |

    After a lifetime of obsession with nuclear weapons, I didn’t think I could learn much more about such pivotal events as the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place 70 years ago this week. But historian Alex Wellerstein, who became my colleague at Stevens Institute of Technology last year, has a knack for knocking the dust off nuclear history so I can see it afresh. […]

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  • Bethe, Teller, Trinity and the End of Earth

    Bethe, Teller, Trinity and the End of Earth

    By John Horgan | August 4, 2015 |

    The 70 th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has reminded me of an extraordinary incident that occurred during the Manhattan Project, when Edward Teller and other physicists feared the fission bomb they were building might incinerate the planet. […]

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  • The Risks of Nuclear Weapons: An Exchange

    The Risks of Nuclear Weapons: An Exchange

    By John Horgan | August 3, 2015 |

    Do we fear nuclear weapons too much or too little? Too little,  I argued in a recent post  inspired by an exchange I had with counter-culture icon Stewart Brand, who suggested that the risks of nuclear war--and even the effects of nuclear detonations--have been exaggerated. […]

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  • Science versus Religion: Excerpts from an Interview

    Science versus Religion: Excerpts from an Interview

    By John Horgan | July 22, 2015 |

    “We believe science is rational. But, like the church it once fought, it has its own established power structures and its own politics to defend. Has it become the new church, with beliefs tended by the faithful and heretics excluded from publication?” That’s how the Institute of Art and Ideas introduces an interview with me, titled “ Science: Power and Politics .” The IAI is a British non-profit engaged, it says, “in changing the current cultural landscape through the pursuit and promotion of big ideas, boundary-pushing thinkers and challenging debates.” Count me in! […]

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  • Much-touted Deep-Brain-Stimulation Treatment for Depression Fails Another Trial

    Much-touted Deep-Brain-Stimulation Treatment for Depression Fails Another Trial

    By John Horgan | July 9, 2015 |

    Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) is a highly invasive procedure, which involves drilling holes in the skull and inserting electrodes deep inside the brain.  A pacemaker-style device delivers pulses of electricity to specific neural regions. For years, journalists and researchers have touted this technique’s potential for treating depression, largely based on the work of neurologist Helen Mayberg. […]

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