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Critical views of science in the news

Journalist Chris Mooney Is Wrong, Again, about “Experts”

Journalist Chris Mooney Is Wrong, Again, about “Experts”

I recently knocked science journalist Chris Mooney for asserting that “You Have No Business Challenging Scientific Experts.” Non-experts have the right and even the duty, I retorted, to question scientific experts, who often get things wrong...

April 8, 2015 — John Horgan

How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Beat Rival Treatments?

Alcoholics Anonymous, the 80-year-old self-help program, has always had critics, who fault it for being too religious and unscientific. Journalist Gabrielle Glaser revives both these charges in her April Atlantic article, “The False Gospel of Alcoholics Anonymous.” She claims that “researchers have debunked central tenets of A.A...

April 4, 2015 — John Horgan

Steven Pinker, John Gray and the End of War

Fisticuffs have broken out in The Guardian between two intellectual big shots, philosopher John Gray and psychologist Steven Pinker. The fight, which features lots of rhetorical flourishes and high dudgeon, addresses a serious issue: Is humanity achieving moral progress?...

April 1, 2015 — John Horgan
Sociologist Steve Fuller: Scientists Aren’t More Rational Than the Rest of Us

Sociologist Steve Fuller: Scientists Aren’t More Rational Than the Rest of Us

In a column last week, I argued that journalists and other non-scientists have the right and even in some cases the responsibility to question the authority of scientific experts; after all, “even the most accomplished scientists at the most prestigious institutions often make claims that turn out to be erroneous or exaggerated.” My post criticized [...]..

March 23, 2015 — John Horgan
For Pi Day: A Reminiscence on “The Death of Proof”*

For Pi Day: A Reminiscence on “The Death of Proof”*

In 1993, when I was a full-time staff writer for Scientific American, my boss, Jonathan Piel, asked, or rather, commanded me to write an in-depth feature on something, anything, mathematical...

March 14, 2015 — John Horgan

N.Y. Times Hype of “Feel-Good Gene” Makes Me Feel Bad

In 1990 The New York Times published a front-page article by Lawrence Altman, a reporter with a medical degree, announcing that scientists had discovered “a link between alcoholism and a specific gene.” That was merely one in a string of reports in which the Times and other major media hyped what turned out to be [...]..

March 13, 2015 — John Horgan
How a Goshawk Scalped Me—Twice

How a Goshawk Scalped Me—Twice

A charming article about northern goshawks by James Gorman of the New York Times has dredged up a memory of my run-in with one of these fierce creatures.

March 2, 2015 — John Horgan

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