Fluoridation Lowers IQ – Significantly?

The argument about whether to fluoridate municipal drinking water is far from over. This is not for lack of study. At clinicaltrials.gov the results of 193 separate studies are given. Of those, 74 were sponsored by industry — mostly toothpaste manufacturers. The …continue reading

US Patent and Purpose: Does Apple Own Rounded Corners?

Have we lost sight of the original purpose of patents? The Samsung/Apple patent fight has me shaking my head. An issue that gets a lot of play in the press is Apple’s patent that essentially covers putting round corners on things, and Samsung’s phones have …continue reading

How Much Does a Soul Weigh?

Classic Bayesian decision theory helps us make the best decisions assuming we have knowledge of several things. For instance, to decide if a given sample is good or bad, we need to know the expected fraction of bad samples in the whole population. We also …continue reading

Those of Faith and the Faithless: How We Make Decisions

Two events happened recently that made me more aware of the importance of considering how we make decisions. Notice that I did not say “make decisions,” but rather “considering how we make decisions.” In formal life, we might use logic and decision theory to make …continue reading

Cooperate or Compete?

Competition or cooperation? One of the continuing dilemmas we face in making decisions involving other people is to compete with them or cooperate. Competition often gets good press, particularly when promoting economic theories or sporting events. And there is no doubt that we are all …continue reading

Are You Antisocial if You Do Not Tweet?

Do we decide how to behave?

Maybe I have decided to be an antisocial misfit, or simply a stuck-in-the-rut, crusty old man. Today for the first time I logged onto my Facebook account and scrolled through a few interesting, and mostly uninteresting entries. Eons ago …continue reading

Is Cyber Vigilantism Ever Justified?

How do we decide if a cyber action is good or bad? If hackers attack a major site like Visa or MasterCard as part of an extortion attempt, most people would consider that to be an evil act — maybe even the people who do …continue reading

Making Babies and Religion: is That Controversial?

Making decisions is greatly affected by the way in which we display the data necessary to understand the situation well enough to make a valid decision. Too much data presented in a dry, formal way can be worse for decision making that no data at …continue reading

Daddy, What Did You Do During the Educational Revolution?

When you are in the middle of a revolution, the best way to go is not obvious. Recently an opinion article in our local newspaper explored the problems faced by schools in educating young people in an era of “No Child Left Behind,” charter school …continue reading

Painful Decisions: Should I Cheat?

If you were burned over 7% of your body and needed to have your dressings changed daily, would you rather have the nurse pull the old ones off quickly, causing intense, but short-lived pain, or would you rather have the nurse ease them off, taking …continue reading