Author Archives: N.S. Palmer

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.

Intimidation Is Not Argument

One aspect of civilized behavior is that we try to settle disputes by rational argument, not by violence and coercion. Sadly, many people don’t know how to make a rational argument. Their first choice is to use the “argumentum ad … Continue reading

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You Broke It, You Bought It

“You broke it, you bought it.” It’s called the Pottery Barn Rule. If you you pick up a piece of store merchandise and you break it, then you have to pay for it. What’s left of it, anyway. It’s not … Continue reading

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In Defense of Misguided People

Misguided people are all around us. Of course, which people we call misguided depends on how misguided we are, ourselves. So I want to say a few words in defense of misguided people. They might not know the facts I … Continue reading

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Why Beliefs Divide Us

Why do beliefs divide us? This will sound like a joke, but it’s the truth: Beliefs divide us because it’s part of their job. We usually think of beliefs simply as being about facts: Two plus two equals four. Flowers … Continue reading

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Why People Are Not Things

Is it ever justified to treat people unequally? Before you try to answer, notice something about the question: It’s not a factual question. It doesn’t ask what is, but what ought to be. We might include facts in our answer, but … Continue reading

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How Easily We Are Stampeded

Today, we lurch drunkenly from one moral panic to another. Last month, it was Covid Cooties. This month, it’s Killer Kops. Next month, it might be something else, just as alliterative and just as loosely connected to reality: whatever will … Continue reading

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Chumps ’R Us

I did something really stupid on Saturday evening. Our city government had imposed an 8pm curfew to discourage rioting and looting. But I’d had a busy day and I didn’t start my evening jog until 7:30pm. So when the appointed … Continue reading

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Peter Strzok on Racial Protest

Disgraced former FBI agent Peter Strzok is despised by most people who live between the gilded coasts, though possibly not as much as he despises them. However, knowing “who hates whom” tells us little about the merits of almost any … Continue reading

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“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

In 1741, the Rev. Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon about the total wickedness of humanity. It was titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It wasn’t about something that his listeners had done wrong, but about the idea … Continue reading

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The Costs of Forbidden Thoughts

“Truth has nothing to fear from open discussion and debate: in fact, they are its closest allies.” Continue reading

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