Archive for the ‘in the news’ category

Mini-Belichek, even down to the hoodie…

April 3, 2009

New coach Josh McDaniels has sure put his stamp on the Denver Broncos. He’s already signed 12 new free agents. He alienated his pro-bowl QB, Jay Cutler, and yesterday traded him away for some draft picks and Kyle Orton.  I’ll leave it to the media to analyze the trade and the status of the team, but I do want to point out that McDaniels is emulating his mentor (Bill Belichek) as far as attitude goes (hardass and unforgiving in his interactions with the media and with players who don’t buy into his philosophy).   Now he’s even wearing the hoodie sweatshirt like Belichek, though McDaniels’ is quite a bit newer and less ratty.

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Davos Humor

February 1, 2009

Thomas Friedman talks about how there is no silver bullet for the financial crisis in his column today. It’s worth reading, if for no other reason than to prepare yourself for a long, drawn-out recovery from the mess we’re in.  However, he also has a funny joke that captures the absurdity of the whole situation. See below:

“Davos humor: What is the capital of Iceland? Answer: $25.”

More science in our policy making, please

December 3, 2008

Olivia Judson has a nice Op-Ed piece in the NYT today.  She references a book called “Undermining Science: Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration” by Seth Shulman that I’d like to read.  She also makes a couple of great points.  Many scientists have been dismayed by the Bush administration’s efforts to suppress the role that science plays in public policy (especially, for me, regarding climate science).  However, I’ve never been able to articulate succinctly why science and the scientific method are so valuable.  Judson does this as well as I’ve ever seen:

In schools, science is often taught as a body of knowledge — a set of facts and equations. But all that is just a consequence of scientific activity.

Science itself is something else, something both more profound and less tangible. It is an attitude, a stance towards measuring, evaluating and describing the world that is based on skepticism, investigation and evidence. The hallmark is curiosity; the aim, to see the world as it is. This is not an attitude restricted to scientists, but it is, I think, more common among them. And it is not something taught so much as acquired during a training in research or by keeping company with scientists.

Now, I don’t want to idealize this. To claim that scientists are free of bias, ambition or desires would be ridiculous. Everyone has pet ideas that they hope are right; and scientists are not famous for humility… Moreover, to downplay evidence that doesn’t fit your ideas, and to place more weight on evidence that does — this is something that human brains just seem to do. Worse, such biases become stronger under certain circumstances.

However, the beauty of the scientific approach is that even when individuals do succumb to bias or partiality, others can correct them using a framework of evidence that everyone broadly agrees on.