(Book review of Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso: Just deserts. Debating free will, Cambridge: Polity, 2021, 223 pp, $15.99 PB. A slightly shortened version was published in Metascience) How can we ever hope to resolve philosophical questions with which some of our smartest thinkers have wrestled for centuries, with no agreed resolution in sight? Perhaps we should delegate… Lees verder »Do free will skeptics swallow their own medicine?
The philosopher Allan Bloom once lamented: ‘There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.’ Perhaps Bloom overstated his case, but as a university teacher myself, I think he’s onto something. Do people who proclaim that ‘truth is relative’ or that ‘everyone has their… Lees verder »Why Relativism is the Worst Idea Ever
Trivia question: which country was the first to pass a public smoking ban? Answer: Nazi Germany. Indeed, German scientists were among the first to determine a causal relationship between smoking and cancer. Adolf Hitler himself intensely disliked smoking and personally donated money to the Wissenschaftliches Institut zur Erforschung der Tabakgefahren (Scientific Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research). The term Passivrauchen (passive smoking) itself was coined… Lees verder »Why the Genetic Fallacy is Not a Fallacy
At long last, here’s the video of our climate debate at UGent, fully subtitled! Watch our distinguished panel of experts debate the best strategies to tackle climate change: Mark Lynas, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Opha Pauline Dube and Ted Nordhaus. Your host and moderator is Desiree Hoving. Even though there is no longer any scientific debate about the reality of man-made… Lees verder »Full video of our debate: ‘Climate Change Is Real. Now What Should We Do About It?’
(Here’s the original English version of our op-ed published in the Flemish newspaper De Morgen, written together with science journalist Mark Lynas, author of Our Final Warning) Because of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the world economy, global emissions dropped by 8% in 2020. A silver lining? Not quite. If we want to reach the goal of the Paris… Lees verder »Building new gas plants in times of climate emergency? That makes no sense.
The science is settled: our climate is rapidly warming and humans are (largely) responsible. Fossil fuels have brought unprecedented levels of wealth and prosperity, but they are also pushing our climate out of balance. If we don’t bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, we risk reaching dangerous levels of warming within a few decades. Even though there is no longer… Lees verder »Climate Change Is Real. Now What Should We Do About It? (Debate at Ghent University)
Any packaged medication will come with a leaflet that warns of possible side effects. Manufacturers have to err on the side of caution, so they report pretty much every symptom that has been observed during clinical trials, even if most were probably unrelated to the medication. The only pills without side effects are those that don’t produce any effects at… Lees verder »Why Easing Restrictions Will Lead to More, not Less, Collateral Damage
Four years ago, I gave a talk at the Skepsis conference in the Netherlands addressing the question: “What if false beliefs make you happy?” My partner-in-crime Massimo Pigliucci gave a talk about epistemic virtues in the same session, and we had an enjoyable discussion on stage afterwards. Apparently the organizers liked our joint session quite a lot, so they invited… Lees verder »Talk at Skepsis conference – What if false beliefs are useful?
Scientism Schmientism! Why There Are No Other Ways of Knowing Apart from Science (Broadly Construed)
(This is a revised and expanded version of an earlier post, now published at the APA blog) What do we talk about when we talk about scientism? Most people who have heard of the term believe it’s something bad, an epistemic sin or affliction we should avoid at all costs. And that is indeed the most common usage of the… Lees verder »Scientism Schmientism! Why There Are No Other Ways of Knowing Apart from Science (Broadly Construed)
How Not to Get Sucked Into an Intellectual Black Hole. On the Warped Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories
What will the next major world event be? It’s difficult to make predictions, as the physicist Niels Bohr once said, especially about the future. But one thing we can already state with absolute confidence: whatever happens, the event will soon spark a range of conspiracy theories. Some people will claim that nothing is as it seems. Everything was carefully staged… Lees verder »How Not to Get Sucked Into an Intellectual Black Hole. On the Warped Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories