How Carl Sagan Ruined Science

I am a Carl Sagan fan from way back. His 1980 TV miniseries “Cosmos” hit me at just the right age and inflamed a lifelong love of science. But we’ve had nearly forty years to assess the long-term impact and see how Sagan unwittingly contributed to a trend that has served to muddle public understanding […]

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What Is Subsidized and What Is Not Subsidized

New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo recently touted electric cars—Tesla, actually—as a case where government regulations can have an economically beneficial effect by promoting innovation. “Researchers who study regulation and its effects on business said there have been numerous instances in which regulation speeds along, rather than impedes, technological progress.” After all, we wouldn’t […]

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Can the “Fearless Girl” Stand on Her Own?

As a PR stunt—advertising disguised as an idealistic political message—a Wall Street investment firm hawking a “Gender Diversity Index” placed a statue of a young girl in front of the famous Wall Street statue of a charging bull. It was put there on International Women’s Day, you see, and it was taken as a symbol […]

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Civil Disobedience as a Business Model

MIT recently announced that it is offering a $250,000 Disobedience Award for someone who offers “an extraordinary example of disobedience for the benefit of society.” Because, “You don’t change the world by doing what you’re told.” Is this meant to encourage civil disobedience? Of course, because “Laws evolve over time and are meant to be […]

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Our Multiple-Choice Strategy in Syria

The United States has launched air strikes against the Syrian regime, but do we have a strategy for Syria yet? Judging from the past few days, we have too many. Launching a couple dozen missiles to blow up a runway at an airbase controlled by the regime may or may not sound impressive, but in […]

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In Syria, the First Step Is Recognizing That We Have a Problem

It’s really nice that everybody is all worried about Syria now, at least for the next five minutes, because Bashar Assad decided to take a break from killing his people in other ghastly ways and decided to gas them. It’s all very shocking—if you haven’t been paying any attention to Syria for the past six […]

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But He Fights (Against Liberty)

My readers may have noticed that I am occasionally wrong in my predictions about politics, including such little things as who is going to win the presidential primaries or who is going to win the general election. But the more important part of my job is to figure out who ought to win, so I […]

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The Democrats’ Sad Search for an “Appalachian” Savior

A little gaffe caught my eye recently that sums up the desperate state of the Democratic Party right now. It was alert from the New York Times teasing the first lines of a David Leonhardt op-ed describing Tom Perriello, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia, as a “populist former Congressman […]

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The Future Will Be Different, But Will We Be the Same?

The Future of Human Augmentation and Performance Enhancement In most of our science fiction and our projections of the future, everything has changed—we have robots, flying cars, artificial intelligence, warp speed, laser swords–but we remain pretty much the same. Humans of the future are exactly the same physically and mentally as humans today. In science […]

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The Obamacare Debacle’s Silver Lining

Their failure to pass the Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill was a disaster for House Republicans. The only way the disaster could have been worse is if they had passed it. This was a case of “you had one job” if ever there was one. Republicans have spent the past seven years obstructing Obamacare, complaining […]

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