Well before Bentham, Cesare Beccaria radically questioned the right of the state to imprison and execute its citizens
Michael ShermerThe modern idea that the punishment should fit the crime (the principle of proportionality) is grounded in social contract theory & developed by Cesare Beccaria: a crime is a breach of the social contract in a secular state, not a sin in a theocracy.
Kary Mullis was an unconventional and often controversial Nobel laureate.
Michael ShermerRIP Kary Mullis (1944-2019)—one of the most colorful characters I ever met. At a party he regaled me for hours about his belief in ESP & astrology & his skepticism of global warming & HIV-AIDS. Not sure if he wasn't just provocatively poking the nest.
These stories don’t mention Jeffrey Epstein, but they are about him.
Michael ShermerPerhaps Epstein's death was not a conspiracy of dunces, as I suggested yesterday, but a conspiracy of cruelty & indifference on the part of prison staff. Again, what's more likely—that he was secretly murdered by a Clinton/Trump operative, or this?
In Science Salon # 78, Michael Shermer speaks with cognitive scientist Dr. Donald Hoffman about his new book The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth From Our Eyes, which challenges the leading scientific theories that claim that our...
Online theorists Saturday quickly offered unsubstantiated speculation — including some retweeted by President Trump — that Epstein's death wasn't a suicide, or it was faked
Michael ShermerIf you're promoting Epstein suicide conspiracy theories, Russian bots and trolls thank you. They know Americans are like Pavlov's dogs: ring the conspiratorial bell and they'll salivate on command. Just wait until we get closer to the 2020 election.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the death of Jeffrey Epstein (all times local): 4:50 p.m. A person familiar with the Manhattan jail that housed Jeffrey Epstein says it was so...
Michael ShermerRemember this adage regarding conspiracy theories:
"Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence or chance."
Epstein's suicide conspiracy theory: guards were working overtime, exhausted, & failed to complete their rounds every 30 min
After the recent mass shootings, Mike Huckabee points the finger at a lack of religion, not at guns. Social science proves him and other Christian moralizers wrong.
Michael ShermerGood Op-Ed by @phil_zuckerman on why, if anything, more religion means more gun violence, not less like Mike Huckabee thinks. In reality gun violence & religion are orthogonal (independent) variables. If religion promotes more moral behavior it is failing.
A term used to describe violent diatribes once referred to shreds of material, until it was influenced by ‘scream’ and ‘shriek’
Michael ShermerI agree & wish I'd referenced the El Paso killer's "manifesto" as it really is—a "screed". Manifesto is too elevated for what these statements are: "a smudge of excrement on a tissue surging out to sea with a million tons of raw sewage." (Charles Bukowski)
For people power movements, does momentum equal mass times velocity? Erica Chenoweth & Margherita Belgioioso reflect on their recent findings in Nature Human Behaviour.
Michael ShermerYet another reason why non-violent political movements succeed far more than violent ones: you need a sizable % of the population to back your movement to bring about real change, & violence alienates most people who would otherwise support your cause.
People were less willing to help a woman who dropped her belongings if she appeared to be Muslim, unless they'd seen her signal her respect for social norms.
Michael ShermerThe @latimes has a good summary of the new German train station study on discrimination against immigrants. My take: religion is more divisive than unifying, particularly if the dominant religion seeks political power over minority religions (eg, the U.S.)
As immigration increases due to globalization, wars, and climate change, there is more interaction between native and immigrant populations and more potential for conflict. Policymakers have emphasized the need to better integrate immigrants to...
Michael Shermer"As long as public debates and policies heighten the importance of religious differences, cultural integration will not be able to eliminate intergroup conflict."
New study finds "a shared understanding of civic behavior can form the basis of cooperation."
The U.S. should use its hard-won experience against al Qaeda and Islamic State to combat today’s surge of lethal white supremacist attacks
Michael Shermer"White supremacist terrorism has now eclipsed international jihadist terrorism in frequency and severity." Conservatives/Republicans: will you devote equivalent resources to combatting this form of terrorism as you have against jihadism since 9/11?
After a record-breaking heat wave in Europe and the Arctic, last month edged out July 2016
Michael ShermerLet's put our thinking caps on & see if this single datapoint falls on a long-term trend line. Why yes, it does. Could it be that anthropogenic warming is real & human caused? It's ok to acknowledge this fact & still debate solutions (sci-tech/political).