The Placebo Test

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to a number of groups about the power of belief in medicine as a part of promoting my book, Suggestible You. It’s been a fascinating process and I’ve loved hearing about people’s individual experience with placebos, self-healing and alternative medicine. But I often asked a simple question: what […]

In Defense of the Antivaxxer

I am a man of science. Okay, perhaps not of science, but certainly near it. I’m science adjacent. But regardless, I consider myself to be bound, in the end, by logic and facts. As such, I like to think that I eschew my beliefs for what the facts tell me. As a very young man, I was […]

Motherhood Week: Making Friends With Mister P.

My eight-year-old daughter is a fourth-generation perfectionist. In my family, the trait is matrilineal, so I know from firsthand experience that it has a few advantages. My daughter is likely to pay her bills on time and use semicolons correctly. She will not be intimidated by details. She will have a certain baseline competence that will make her […]

The Community Listservs of the People of LWON

  Emily Underwood, Friend of LWON, posted on Facebook a collection of topics from her community listserv. Lions (mountain lions) Free blue heeler Sick chicken Ann doesn’t know exactly where Emily lives but it sure isn’t Baltimore.  Ann’s community listserv looks more like this. 2nd Quarterly Citizen’s Decision-Making Training (formerly known as “Shoot Don’t Shoot”) […]

On Competence

As human civilization becomes ever more technologically complex, the average competence of each person declines. When a society operates using a suite of technologies that a single adult can learn in his or her lifetime—building a house from scratch, farming, spinning cotton, making medicines, having babies, hunting, fishing, singing and dancing—then it is possible to […]

Redux: You’ve got mail, you idiot!

This post originally ran on October 26, 2011, back when Donald Trump was relentlessly propagating an easily debunked conspiracy theory about President Obama. As we ponder the triumph of “alternative facts,” it’s worth considering what makes bullshit so appealing and why it’s so hard to debunk.Earlier this month, I gave an Ignite talk at the National Association of […]