The source of the leak on the International Space Station. Source: NASA TV

Hanlon’s Razor and Human Behavior


WC wants to introduce his readers – especially those inclined to see a conspiracy behind every tree – to an analytical principle, Hanlon’s Razor. There’s a vigorous debate about the recent pressure leak on the International Space Station. It wasn’t a catastrophic leak. But unresolved it would have depressurized the entire space station over the…

Justus Susterman's Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636

Galileo, Pisa and Those Two Famous Balls


Galileo Galilei famously faced the Inquisition for steadfastly asserting the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the Sun around the Earth. But before that, he is credited with the equally famous experiment at Pisa, where he dropped two heavy metal balls, of different sizes, from Pisa’s Leaning Tower. Aristotle had written the heavier metal…

© 1982 Gary Larson, "The Far Side," United Press Syndicate

Engaging in Real Debate: Words Matter


WC was a zealous debater in high school. It wasn’t just formal debate tournaments; WC cherished the Tanana Valley State Fair and the opportunity to go and argue with the old geezers at the John Birch Society booth. WC argued with teachers. WC argued with classmates. WC’s professional career was built around persuasive argument: effectively…

Tree Trunk, Eliis and 21st Street, Boise, Idaho

Pareidoila


If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills.…

The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

A Trump Lexicon — Updated


Our President uses language in strange and unusual ways. Notably, he often uses the same words or phrases in numerous different Twitter messages. As a service to readers, WC offers the following Trump Lexicon, offering definition of those word and phrases as an aid to understanding what the President is really saying.   Word or…

© Chris Madden

Can We Talk About Reasoning and Razors?


A lot of pundits are working hard to identify the method to President Trump’s apparent madness. What is the purpose of the apparent lies? Why the complete contradictions? Why the fixations on trivial issues? Is it some nefarious scheme, some clever strategy, some secret plan? Naw. You know Occam’s Razor, probably, the problem-solving principle that among competing…