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Cross-Check

Cross-Check

Critical views of science in the news

Inception is a clunker, but lucid dreaming is cool

Inception is an absurdly complicated, clattering contraption of a movie that impresses only in a mechanical, Rube Goldberg–ish way. My intellect had to work so hard to figure out what was happening that my emotions never got engaged.

August 2, 2010 — John Horgan

Our nature is nurture: Are shifts in child-rearing making modern kids mean?

In journalism you look for one thing and find another that confounds your expectations. It's what make makes this gig so frustrating and fun. I went looking for reassurance in Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding (Harvard University Press, 2009) by the anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and found something scary.

July 12, 2010 — John Horgan

Quitting the hominid fight club: The evidence is flimsy for innate chimpanzee--let alone human--warfare

Extraordinary claims, Carl Sagan liked to say, require extraordinary evidence. Here is an extraordinary claim: "Chimpanzeelike violence preceded and paved the way for human war, making modern humans the dazed survivors of a continuous, five-million-year habit of lethal aggression."

The anthropologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University made this statement in his 1996 book Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Houghton Mifflin, co-written with journalist Dale Peterson) and has reiterated it ever since.

June 29, 2010 — John Horgan

Chain links: Is the Internet empowering or enslaving us?

I don't believe in God—at least, not any version I've encountered so far—but I do believe in free will. Free will, which I define as our capacity to recognize and act on choices, is what makes life meaningful.

June 15, 2010 — John Horgan

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