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Stories by John Horgan

A Brief, Ironic History of “Ironic Science”

A Brief, Ironic History of “Ironic Science”

Football is dead to me! I can’t watch any more without thinking about brain-damage and abuse of women and dogs. So instead of watching playoff games today (although I’m beaming bad-luck vibes at Brady and Belichick, whom I love to hate), I traced the history of “ironic science.” In my previous column, I claimed ownership [...]..

January 18, 2015 — John Horgan
What Is “Ironic Science”?

What Is “Ironic Science”?

I was scanning my Twitter feed recently, pretending to look for “news” while really searching, as usual, for items that praise, condemn or merely allude to me—I mean, let’s face it, all of us social-media addicts are narcissists–when the bells in my amygdala started clanging...

January 16, 2015 — John Horgan
Troublemaker Lee Smolin Says Physics—and Its Laws—Must Evolve*

Troublemaker Lee Smolin Says Physics–and Its Laws–Must Evolve*

What separates good from bad troublemakers? Productive provocateurs from mere contrarians, bullshit artists, attention-seekers? This is the personalized equivalent of philosophy’s demarcation problem, which involves telling genuine from pseudo-science...

January 4, 2015 — John Horgan
Need a New Year’s Resolution? Believe in Free Will!

Need a New Year’s Resolution? Believe in Free Will!

New Year’s Day is approaching, a time when we—by which I mean I–brood over past failures and vow to improve ourselves: I will be less judgmental with my kids and more romantic with my girlfriend...

December 27, 2014 — John Horgan
How an Agnostic Science Writer Celebrates Winter Solstice

How an Agnostic Science Writer Celebrates Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice, darkest day of the year, is fast approaching. So once again I’m posting an edited version of a column I originally wrote for The New York Times more than a decade ago, when I was still married and living in a Hudson Valley hamlet...

December 19, 2014 — John Horgan
Advice to Young Science Writers: Ask “What Would Chomsky Think?”

Advice to Young Science Writers: Ask “What Would Chomsky Think?”

I’ve been pondering my profession again lately, for several reasons: shifts in the Scientific American Blog Network; the launch of a science communication program at my school, Stevens Institute of Technology, which is closely allied with a new program in science, technology and society (STS); and finally a chat with editors at IEEE Spectrum, where [...]..

December 17, 2014 — John Horgan

Physicist Slams Cosmic Theory He Helped Conceive

I love apostates, believers in or, better yet, conceivers of a theory who turn against it. They restore my faith in science, because they show that scientists can overcome attachment to their own brainchildren, a feat that is essential for progress and cannot be taken for granted...

December 1, 2014 — John Horgan
Thanksgiving and the Slanderous Myth of the Savage Savage

Thanksgiving and the Slanderous Myth of the Savage Savage

The approach of Thanksgiving, that quintessential American holiday, has me brooding once again over slanderous scientific portrayals of Native Americans as bellicose brutes.* When I was in grade school, my classmates and I wore paper Indian headdresses and Pilgrim hats and reenacted the "first Thanksgiving," in which supposedly friendly Native Americans joined Pilgrims for a [...]..

November 24, 2014 — John Horgan

Are Scientists on the Cusp of Knowing How Weird We Are?

I’m writing this post for two reasons. One is to recommend a new book by Columbia astrobiologist Caleb Scharf (who also writes a terrific Scientific American blog, “Life, Unbounded“), and the other is to defend an old book of mine...

November 21, 2014 — John Horgan

Sebastian Junger's New Film "The Last Patrol" Glorifies War

“To honor a fallen peer and adjust to life outside the war zones, four men linked by combat journey by foot from Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania.” That is how HBO describes Sebastian Junger’s new documentary, The Last Patrol, which HBO is airing Monday night...

November 7, 2014 — John Horgan
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