The Sacred and the Profane are not so Different

There are hundreds of ways to be unscientific, but one of the most common is misunderstanding the relationship between theory and practice. Here’s a quote I found on Facebook today – apparently originally from this cogsci paper – that is illustrative of the problem: Opportunity costs be damned, some trade-offs should never be proposed, some…

Good News from Germany … and the World

Well, the German election is over and I think the results were about the best that could’ve been hoped for. Union (center-right CDU/CSU) gets to ditch its SPD (socialist) coalition partner in favor of the much more like-minded FDP (liberal – in the original sense), Merkel stays on as Chancellor, the SPD’s support falls dramatically…

Flashmobs and Tribes

Matt Yglesias has a post called Political Tribalism that is as brave as it is welcome. He’s in Germany now, and they’re having an election today. Here’s what makes him uncomfortable about the whole thing: One of the oddest things about being in Germany during an election campaign is that I’m pretty sure I have…

Proper Comparisons

Libertarians have a lot to answer for. I don’t mean that in the colloquial sense of having done a lot of wrong – I just mean that when you’re a fringe political philosophy, you’re starting with a lot of really different assumptions than everyone else, and so you don’t have the luxury, as, say, Democrats…

Having Done with Tipping

There’s a post that’s making the rounds about the perennial issue of tipping. Apparently 15% is no longer enough, and people should start thinking of 20% as the base rate. That’s no problem for me, since I’ve been thinking of 20% as the base rate for years now. I tip 20% by default, rounding up…

Politeness: what’s in it for us?

Via Radley Balko, here’s Kerry Howley on David Brooks’ reaction to Kanye West and Joe Wilson. There is nothing telling, interesting, or indicative about two men acting out at a couple of awkwardly staged performances. The way millions of people react to them, on the other hand, matters very much. And if you’re like David…

No YOU are!

Our most annoying ex-president thinks that racism plays a major role in opposition to Obama. Right – this time it’s racism. As opposed to … whatever it was when Clinton failed to pass national healthcare. Or … whatever it was when Johnson failed to pass national healthcare. Or … whatever it was all those times…

The Proper Reaction to a Nazi Collection

This is my response to an open question on Radley Balko’s blog. The question: This story raises an interesting question: Is there anything inherently wrong with collecting Nazi memorabilia? Would you think differently of someone if you were made aware they were a collector? The answer is no and no: No, there is nothing inherently…

40 Years of Scooby Doo

So yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Scooby Doo Where are You!, a show whose importance for my childhood (despite the fact that my parents didn’t let me watch it, or pretty much any TV) cannot be overstated. Here’s a link to my favorite episode on YouTube. Actually, I’ve never even seen that one, but…