Category Archives: In the News

Constantine, Putin, Trump and the co-opting of religion

The Australian kangaroo and the American white-tailed deer are said to have evolved to dominate a very similar ecological niche. Both comprise the greatest number of large, undomesticated, plant-eating mammals on their respective continents, and both are amazingly adaptable to the pressures of human appropriation of the land. They are both, however, less adaptable to the threat of the automobile…. Read more »

Update: The gun violence lottery

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The most-viewed post in the short history of this blog was a February post entitled “The gun violence lottery”. In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting, I posited a rather cold math question: What if there is no single “cause” of mass shootings in the U.S. beyond “an unsecured gun was available, and we have millions of unsecured guns… Read more »

A moral conversation about immigration

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The debate about immigration and asylum, especially on the southern border of the United States, has reached a fever pitch, and is even on the cusp of civil disturbance. In the language of a previous post, the moral conversation is NOT happening here, either between people or even, I would argue, inside the heads of most people. In that post… Read more »

The math of changing your mind – part 2

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A recent post looked at the concept of Markov chains to help us see the process by which people change allegiance from one restaurant to another, or one political position to another. This post follows up with some of the math behind Markov chains and gives you access to a spreadsheet to let you experiment with the concept. If any… Read more »

The math of changing your mind – part 1

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Markov Change

In a recent post I explored the idea of collective delusion, where our self-concept of things like our susceptibility to advertising or the under-estimates of our gambling losses are betrayed by the total size of the advertising and gambling markets. In this post, I will look at how collective delusion can extend to our most fervently-held political convictions and the… Read more »

Las Vegas, internet advertising and collective delusions

This blog started out looking at how fragile probabilistic randomness often affects our collective and individual fates as a society. The next few posts work toward exploring some of the mathematics behind how half of America found itself embracing a collective political delusion which is objectively 180 degrees from its own long-held conservative religious and political norms. That math may… Read more »

“Wink and a nod” contract consideration – part 2

The first part of this series of posts looked at the growing inability to prosecute political bribery because the courts and legislatures have enabled layers of opaque legal entities to hide the delivery of the political favors from the receipt of the “consideration.” As I noted in that part, no official “contract” exists other than a “wink and a nod”… Read more »

“Wink and a nod” contract consideration – part 1

One of the foundational concepts of the university Business Law course, a staple of every business curriculum, is that of contracts, the agreement between two parties to do something (or sometimes, not do something). Most often, that “something” is an exchange of goods or services. And we were long taught that fundamentally, you have no contract unless you have this… Read more »

The “God language” of violence

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I noted in an earlier post in my continuing series on ethics that I believe we often see religious language backwards in this pursuit. My view is that the various religious “God languages” of humankind, as well as the many philosophical and popular cultural languages, are the “means of expression” for more basic human needs and goals. And “God languages”… Read more »