Why ‘political science’ is not a science

Historians and political scientists argue endlessly about the merits of their disciplines. Each side claims to be empirically-based while challenging the usefulness of the other’s methods and approaches. But the difference between political science and history can be summed it more easily, it seems. Historians recognize the futility of playing with counter-factual history.

At the New Republic political scientist David W. Rohde (not the Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter at the NYT) would have us believe that John Kerry’s defeat in 2004 was “the luckiest break” the Democrats have caught in more than 40 years. Had the Democrats not lost that election, Rohde claims, they would have been dragged under by the quagmire of the succeeding four years. It’s as if Democrats have no real ability to chart a new course.
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Archaeology: From Reel to Real

This is cute.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has its own take on Indiana Jones and it’s worth a look

I think the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones film saga opened yesterday. I, for one, can’t wait to see it. To coincide with the release, the NSF has launched a special site dedicated to differentiating between the real world of archaeology and the movie (reel) world of archaeology.

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Ben Stein should be “Expelled”

Unbeknownst to us at Colorado Confidential, our science and environmental reporter got one of the few sneak peaks at the new Intelligent Design movie, Expelled, featuring former Nixon speechwriter and game show host Ben Stein when it was screened locally at the Archdiocese of Denver ahead of its April 2008 release date.

Read his review and ponder with us at Unbossed why a film that devotes 105 minutes of celluloid to bash evolution never quite gets around to defining what intelligent design actually is.

Whoops. Those pesky facts must have been dropped on the cutting room floor.

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Rest in Peace Alex

Amidst all the sad news this week, we learn today that Alex the Grey Parrot has died at the age of 30. For those who have never heard of Alex, you may think this is a spoof or snark, but it’s not. I’ve written about Alex and his groundbreaking role in helping us understand more about the cognitive abilities of nonhuman beings. So take a moment to remember Alex or learn why he deserves recognition.
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state of Indiana declared that the value of pi = 22/7

OK, it happened in 1890. The magazine Nature has an interview on the Simpsons and science. You can read that tidbit and more here. As the lead-in to the report says:

Part of The Simpsons’ greatness is a willingness to find the humour in absolutely everything ó including science. Executive producer Al Jean, the show’s head writer and a Harvard mathematics graduate, talks to Nature about how to get a laugh out of Euler’s formula.

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Free the iPhone!

A very clever “Free the iPhone” campaign was launched yesterday to actually protest the lack of wireless freedom.

According to the organizers FreePress.net:

“Apple touts the iPhone as the ‘Internet in your pocket’ ó but itís not. You canít use it without signing on with AT&T, and once you do they cripple services, limit what you can do and restrict where you can go on the wireless Web.

We need Wireless Freedom ó and our elected officials are the only ones who can give it to us: the freedom to use all Internet devices on any wireless network in a market that offers true high-speed Internet and real consumer choice.

Take action today. Demand that the FCC and Congress free the iPhone ó and future gadgets like it ó and put the Internet in the hands of everyone.”

Flip the page to see the video:

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