Why Does January 1 Mark a New Year?

A friend mused about why the new year comes on January 1. This is part of my response.

Happy New Year! But why January first? Because the orbital periods of the Earth and moon not even multiples. And a year is not an integral number …continue reading

Quantum Twenty Questions and You

Here is a simple game that might illustrate some of the quirks of quantum mechanics — or at least might stimulate some thought.

The first is a variant of twenty questions. I believe it was invented by the physicist Wheeler (try searching on Wheeler’s twenty …continue reading

2B V -2B = ?

All the puzzles and logical posers presented here have implicitly used a common assumption. This assumption is so basic we seldom even think about it. In fact, you would likely think me odd if I ignored it. The assumption is simply that something either exists …continue reading

Can You Use Negative Evidence?

A recent puzzler I heard on Car Talk (NPR) prompted me to consider puzzles and decisions that are based on negative, or missing evidence and information present, but not always obvious. Negative evidence is often overlooked as an important clue. For that reason, many puzzles …continue reading

What Do OJ’s Trial, Airport Security, and Thanskgiving Have in Common?

Should I have more pie at Thanksgiving? What do you want to watch on television? Should I download a pirated copy of the latest Harry Potter movie?

No one is likely to use detailed decision analysis with numerical values to make such decisions (possible exceptions: …continue reading

Is John Tyner a Hero?

With all the commentary on John Tyner’s refusal to let a stranger grope his genitals at the airport, I have seen relatively few commentaries on the value of legal groping or “surrendering your rights when you purchase a ticket” in reducing the hazards of flying. …continue reading

Long and Short Terms Goals of Voting

Now that the election season is over and we have a few days break before the next cycle, let’s take a few minutes to consider some features of voting as we know it. In particular, how do we decide how we will vote. After, all, …continue reading

Answer to Charming Little Puzzle

Yesterday I posted a charming little puzzle. It is one of the types that you either see the answer immediately or you have to work on it a bit. The puzzle:

The possible answers are:

A. Answer A B. Answer A or B …continue reading

What is the Right Answer?

Too much pure decision theory gets boring.  That is why I like to intermix it with puzzles and games which are related in some way to decision making and logic.  But making up clever puzzles is difficult, and so I comb the Internet to find …continue reading

Nonsense on Stilts

I have just finished reading another good book on the nature of science and how to distinguish it from pseudoscience. The book is delightfully entitled Nonsense on Stilts by Massimo Pigliucci. You can read it simply to see why science is not a religion, …continue reading