A reader tip on a McDougall talk, and links to good science writing for March 2010

March 31, 2010

Carl Bialik writes: “Your post about the book was really interesting. Chris [McDougall] is speaking at a free event tomorrow in New York, and I thought your readers might be interested in our interview with him, and in the details of the event, if they’re in NY, and want to ask him about some of the issues your post raises (or just hear him speak).” Thanks, Carl!

Moving on, here are some links to some recently published science-related articles that I thought were well written and of general interest.

March 1: Playing along with the Mozart effect by Melissa Healy for The Los Angeles Times. Listening to Mozart offers no permanent benefit to your brain, but learning to play Mozart might.

March 8: Can You Really Predict the Success of a Marriage in 15 Minutes? by Laurie Abraham for Slate.com. Dr. John Gottman’s “predictions” of whether couples will get divorced are not so amazing after all, despite being featured in publications such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

March 18: The science of climate change: the clouds of unknowing by The Economist. “In any complex scientific picture of the world there will be gaps, misperceptions and mistakes. Whether your impression is dominated by the whole or the holes will depend on your attitude to the project at hand. You might say that some see a jigsaw where others see a house of cards. Jigsaw types have in mind an overall picture and are open to bits being taken out, moved around or abandoned should they not fit. Those who see houses of cards think that if any piece is removed, the whole lot falls down. When it comes to climate, academic scientists are jigsaw types, dissenters from their view house-of-cards-ists.”

March 22: Statistical error by Brian Hayes (bit-player.org). Hayes’ lively but sensible prose has been mentioned before. Here he offers a well-reasoned response to Odds Are, It’s Wrong, an anti-statistics rant by Science News editor Tom Siegfried.


  1. I've read Born to Run I believe that in your critique you are missing the point that Chris McDougall is trying to say that running is one of the most natural acts of man and that we have forgotten how to do it. As a runner for 44 years yet not worthy / brave / insane enough to call myself an ultra- distance runner I found this book to be an inspiration as to why I've run as long as I can remember.

  2. Jesus: I believe that you missed the point of my critique (www.running-blogs.com/crowther/2010/03/more_on_born_to_run.html). Among other remarks, I say, "McDougall expertly captures the sense that running can feel like the most natural thing in the world — that, indeed, we were born to do it." My quarrel is not with the validity of this general idea but with his exaggerations and omissions committed for the sake of manufacturing extra drama.

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