Category Archives: The Dice

Ethics 101 – They are still confusing legality and morality

The recent controversy over a leaked Supreme Court opinion perhaps overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision highlights how even Supreme Court justices, when blinded by sectarian religious fervor, can get Ethics 101 wrong. In a pluralistic society, issues of public morality may overlap with issues of legal practice, but only in places like Taliban-controlled Afghanistan do judges make… Read more »

“Sucks to Be You” ethics revisited

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Jimmy Swaggart: "I have sinned!"

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared the Covid pandemic over in her state yesterday, saying the state’s feeble measures to contain the coronavirus and address hospital needs are “no longer feasible or necessary.” Meanwhile, many Iowa hospitals remained stretched to the max, relying on “traveler” staff and “locums” to maintain services. Reynolds has no apparent plans for preparing for any future… Read more »

What are the odds that I am dead wrong?

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Dice

Ever since I transitioned from Iowa-based snowbird to full-time Floridian, news accounts of the storied “Florida Man” now show up regularly in my news feed. To find your own “Florida Man doppelganger,” you simply Google “Florida Man” in quotes, followed by your birth month and day, and then see what news headline comes up. My search yielded this: “Florida man,… Read more »

Dopesick, homelessness, and the casualties of culture

Junction

When faced with a friend who has succumbed to prescription opioid addiction, we commonly hear the expression, “There but for the grace of God go I!” But what if it is not divine grace at work here, rather simply the math of probability? I recently viewed the excellent Hulu television miniseries Dopesick, based on a book of the same name… Read more »

The capricious God of Covid

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Dice icon

“At the first glance, the only ‘law’ … seems to be that of Caprice — caprice in inheriting, caprice in transmitting, caprice everywhere, in turn.” — Philosopher William James (1842– 1910) One of the classic examples in an introductory statistics class is the drawing of billiard balls from an opaque sack containing an unknown mix of various colored balls, and… Read more »

When your pain becomes our pain

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Empathy-Sympathy-Compassion

Odds are…you personally will not suffer any ill effects from the coronavirus. But over 600,000 U.S. families have watched loved ones die, often without the hugs of family who had to say goodbye via FaceTime. Odds are…you personally will not be killed in a grocery store by a domestic terrorist wielding an AR-style high-lethality weapon. But over 40,000 families lost… Read more »

Biden, the bishops, and a failure to communicate

Cool Hand Luke

American Catholic bishops have apparently backed off plans to deny the Holy Communion from practicing Catholic Democratic politicians like President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Comments from the Jesuit Pope Francis and public sentiment appear to have convinced the bishops that this stance would be politically unwise at this time. California Republican and gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, who in a… Read more »

When ethics and dogma meet politics

Stephen Crane

“Think as I think,” said a man, “Or you are abominably wicked; You are a toad.” And after I had thought of it, I said: “I will, then, be a toad.” — Stephen Crane (1871–1900) It can be dangerous to bisect any part of the world around us into two paths, but I have come to view human expressions of… Read more »

Betting against the house on the Covid vaccines

Slot machines

“You have a greater chance of being in a car accident on the way to getting this vaccine than you have of having a problem from this vaccine. But that’s not how people view risk.” — Paul Offit, vaccine expert at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Maybe it is because I do not seem to have a gambling gene in my body…. Read more »

Worth a read: A Series of Fortunate Events by Sean B. Carroll

A Series of Fortunate Events

Good science is hard; good science communication may be even harder. During my publishing career I was the editor or managing editor on quite a few university-level texts, and I usually found the “Introduction to …” textbook authors to be better communicators and classroom teachers than the authors of “upper division” specialized texts. Ironically, the best-selling intro text authors may… Read more »