Back when I first mentioned the idea, people were kind of down on the idea of SciRate.com, Dave Bacon’s project to make a collaborative filter for the arxiv.org prerprint server. Not one to be easily discouraged, Dave has continued to work on it, and it now features papers from all the different arxiv categories, instead […]

The Problem of Praise

The Cosmic Variance post that led to the Cult of Theory post earlier this week was really about a New York magazine article about the negative effects of praising kids for intelligence. It mostly concerns a study done by Carol Dweck, in which fifth-graders who were praised for being smart after an easy test were […]

Put Down the Slide Rule

One of the under-reported effects of cheap and widely available personal computers is the increasing dorkification of sports. I’m talking here about the rise in obsessive stat-geekery across the board, with the accompanying increase in “fantasy” sports. Those phenomena have hardly been ignored, but not many commentators put the blame where it belongs: on the […]

Summitt and Pearl

Tennessee beat Florida by ten last night, handing the Gators their third loss in the last four games. Much as I dislike Florida, and enjoy seeing them lose, I wouldn’t ordinarily comment on this. Hell, I wouldn’t’ve watched this, ordinarily– it was an SEC game, and Vitale was calling it. I subjected myself to the […]

Unitary Evolution in Tight Shorts

Terence Tao explains quantum theory as a game of Tomb Raider: Imagine first that Lara is about to navigate a tricky rolling boulder puzzle, when she hears a distant rumbling sound – the sound of her player saving her game to disk. From the perspective of the player, what happens next is the following: Lara […]

Fire Bad Teachers or the Terrorists Win

Kate’s in Rochester to argue a couple of cases, and the Queen of Niskayuna is being Difficult this morning, so I don’t have as much time as I’d like for this. As a result, it may come out a little more inflammatory than I intend, but then, that’s half the fun of blogging. Or something. […]

Syracuse over Georgetown

Another unexpected win for one of my teams. I think Jay Bilas put it pretty well when he said “I bet Jim Boeheim didn’t expect to be playing his senior walk-ons in the final minute of a victory.” A loss, maybe, but Syracuse winning 72-58 is a real surprise. This was a good old-fashioned Big […]


This looks like it’s most likely a robin, though it was kind of big for a robin, and the color is a little weird. Maybe it’s molting, or some such. Anyway, it was perched right outside the window, and Her Majesty found it absolutely fascinating. So I took a picture.

The Cult of Theory

Over at Cosmic Variance, Julianne (not JoAnne, as I originally typed) has a very nice post about the cult of genius in physics, and its relationship to research on the problems caused by excessive praise. Doug Natelson also has some comments. There’s some fascinating stuff in the articles about praise, with some likely relevance to […]