Scientific Ideas That Are Holding Us Back (BrainPickings)


Science enables us to develop new ideas and clarify existing ones, but it’s also an imperfect line of inquiry and based only on what we know now. The idea that new knowledge is often predicated on older knowledge suggests that scientific progress is only as good as the theories and building blocks that support it. This understanding has led John Bockman to wonder, “What scientific idea is ready for retirement?”

From Nobel laureates to actors and linguists, more than 175 of the world’s eminent thinkers and experts answer Bockman’s question. Read some of the broken theories here.

The Delusions that Define Sanity (Brain Pickings)

Thermometer - Confidence Level

Most of us consider ourselves rational people. Most of us believe we have the ability to judge our own actions and the actions of others from an objective viewpoint. And most of us are wrong.

Psychologists have found that most people have a “self-enhancement bias” that leads us to believe we are slightly smarter, better or more special than the average person — a delusion, it turns out, that may nevertheless have been responsible for the evolutionary success of our ancestors. Read the article.

Robert Bazell Gives Talk on Cancer’s Progress and Profits

Robert Bazell, former chief science and health correspondent for NBC News, spoke at Bowdoin yesterday, Feb. 23, on the advancements in cancer treatment and the commercial concerns surrounding them.

In his 37 years at NBC, Bazell reported over 4,500 news items and won dozens of awards for his journalism including an Edward R. Murrow Award, a Peabody, and five Emmys. He currently teaches molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University.

The Kates Lecture Fund supports periodic lectures, seminars or colloquia at Bowdoin on scientific topics with a preference for topics in the biological sciences or aspects related to the health sciences.

Find more lectures, discussions and talks on Bowdoin Talks.

To Feed or Not to Feed: Deer Survival in the Winter of 2015

Topsham Deer

Deer share a pine branch (Feb. 2015, Topsham, ME)

With all the deep snow and harsh temperatures, biologists expect a further decline in Maine’s deer population this winter. After last winter, the state’s deer herd stood somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 animals, down from more than 275,000 a decade ago. And while last winter was cold, it didn’t produce the deep snow covering much of New England now. The good news is that deer are built to survive these conditions. The not-so-good-news is that well-meaning humans may be killing deer with kindness by providing extra food.