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Month: February 2020

The ’80s called: Usborne Puzzle Adventures

The ’80s called: Usborne Puzzle Adventures

I’ve recently been thoroughly enjoying redoing the Usborne Puzzle Adventure series with my son (just turned 6). He’s at the age where he can do some of the puzzles by himself and most of the others with a little help, which make them a great joint activity. A child a little older could do them independently. For those unfamiliar with them, they are stories where on most pages you have to solve a puzzle to proceed, the puzzles typically comprising…

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Cooperation and Defection in the SSC Prisoner’s Dilemma

Cooperation and Defection in the SSC Prisoner’s Dilemma

In this year’s Slate Star Codex annual survey Scott Alexander tabled a prisoner’s dilemma exercise with a difference: there was real money at stake. Two of the several thousand people who take the survey would be randomly selected to ‘play’ the game, using the answers they had submitted, with the outcome being that they would win between $100 and $1000. Scott, in fact, set three different, closely related prisoner’s dilemma type exercises, presumably to see whether results differed. They were:…

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Why the Gods of Brexit smile upon Tim Shipman

Why the Gods of Brexit smile upon Tim Shipman

There’s a classic structure common to many science-fiction or fantasy trilogies, which is perhaps epitomised by the original Star Wars trilogy. In the first installment, the protagonists are introduced and win a stunning victory over their adversaries against overwhelming odds. There is much rejoicing. In Star Wars terms, Luke and Han rescue Leia and blow up the Death Star. In the second, the adversary is revealed to have not been as badly beaten as all that. Demonstrating strengths and capabilities…

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No, you are not of ‘greater moral value’

No, you are not of ‘greater moral value’

I loathe the expression ‘check your privilege’ – it serves entirely to silence debate and foster division – but I did have an occasion yesterday when I truly understood the temptation to use it. I had been delivering a talk on how scientists can have a greater impact on public policy at one of the UK’s leading science institutions (which I shall not name, as in all other respects it is a truly fantastic place). During the Q&A, one of…

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What really makes a difference in tackling climate change

What really makes a difference in tackling climate change

There’s a very good article which a friend shared recently which talks about how we are coming close to ‘peak Carbon’ – the point at which global carbon emissions start coming down. 49 countries have already passed this point (the UK cut its emissions 24% in the last decade) and others are due to follow soon. Of course, peak carbon is just the start – we need to get to net zero, or even to removing carbon from the atmosphere…

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