What is ‘innateness’, anyway?

A recurring question in both scientific and public discourse is whether any given property of an organism is innate or learned. This debate, usually framed in terms of Nature vs. Nurture, often centers around properties of human behavior and cognition: intelligence, language, morality, mathematics, and so on. But while this dichotomous framing perhaps seems obvious … Continue reading What is ‘innateness’, anyway?

The Evolution of “Bad Science”

Science faces a replicability crisis. This is well-known among scientists and even the general public. Various explanations have been proposed as to the cause of this crisis – some of them on this blog – but these proposals have usually been informal in nature. Recently, two scientists (Smaldino & McElreath, 2016) built a computational model … Continue reading The Evolution of “Bad Science”

Replication in science

Science is a framework for understanding the world. We observe a phenomenon, ask questions about it, and build models to describe and predict it[1]. Crucially, this process is iterative. We’re constantly refining our experiments, theories, and models, in an effort to improve our understanding of some phenomenon. Instead of accepting the results of a study … Continue reading Replication in science

Towards a Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy

People like to label things. One of the best-known examples of a classification scheme is our biological taxonomy, which is meant to show the relationships of different organisms to each other. But no taxonomy is set in stone; even our biological taxonomy has undergone many changes in the last century. This got me thinking: how … Continue reading Towards a Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy