Emanuel Derman

The Complexities of Advertising

Emanuel Derman
Aug 8, 2012 21:23 UTC

I’m attending a meeting on complexity at the Santa Fe Institute, and today there was a panel during which someone bemoaned the absence of science reporting in US newspapers, and mentioned that even the NY Times Science section is mostly not serious. Someone from the UK then remarked that science programming on British TV is much better.

I postulate that you can understand what happened to the NY Times Science section by comparing nbcolympics.com to bbc.com vis a vis Olympic reporting.

NBC, like Google and Facebook is driven by advertisers, and has to deliver you to them. Hence most of what follows. BBC is funded by subscriptions (compulsory ones, for better or worse) and hence can take the high road, which has its advantages.

The NY Times Science section, like Facebook and Google, has to attract corporate advertisers. Case closed.

The perils of pragmamorphism

Emanuel Derman
Sep 23, 2011 14:57 UTC

Having been a scientist, one of my major pet peeves is the naïve use of science. Let me give you several examples.

The influential biologist and evangelistic atheist Richard Dawkins wrote in the Los Angeles Times several years ago about what he called the scientific “vandalism” involved in hanging Saddam Hussein:

“Hussein’s mind would have been a unique resource for historical, political and psychological research, a resource that is now forever unavailable to scholars. … Psychologists, struggling to understand how an individual human being could be so evil … would give their eye teeth for such a rich research subject. Political scientists … have now lost key evidence forever.”