The foundations of scientific thought are slippery

I was having dinner two friends, a mathematician and a scientist. The mathematician mentioned that “regular” mathematicians (a funny idea) take no notice of the foundations of mathematics. That work belongs to logicians and philosophers. The classic story is about Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory, which is too weak to be really interesting. In other words, it doesn’t assume enough to get to what we consider interesting math. But when you add the special ingredient, the axiom of choice, you get enough power to do interesting math, but you also end up with paradoxes.

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Washington is not next

President Trump, in comment on the events in Charlottesville, noted that George Washington was a slaveholder, and wondered, “Is it George Washington next week?” No, he’s not.

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“Bad luck” cancer

Claire Duvallet wrote a great post about the Science papers (the original and the follow-up) that examined the role of environmental factors versus “bad luck” in the acquisition of cancer. Claire talks about a lot of the angles around these papers that I also find really interesting: the scope of the work, how was it communicated, and how microbiome science compares to cancer science in its fairness.

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