Author Archives: N.S. Palmer

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.

Grokking Our Disagreements

I finally got around to reading Robert Heinlein’s science fiction novel Starship Troopers. When I was growing up, I read two or three science fiction novels a week. How I missed Starship Troopers, I don’t know. And one of my … Continue reading

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Life is a Judgment Call

The bar patron asked the bartender, “Is life worth living?” The bartender replied, “It depends on the liver.”1 In other words, it’s a judgment call. Most of us crave simple patterns to explain life. We crave simple rules to guide … Continue reading

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The Lowered Expectations Dating Service

Utopian schemes try to create a perfect society. They usually cause more suffering than they cure. It’s a bad bargain. Moreover, people seldom agree on what a perfect society would be like. No matter how good it is or in … Continue reading

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Truth, Lies, and Bullsh-t

“I am lying,” said Epimenides the Cretan. So if he was lying, then he was telling the truth. And if he was telling the truth, he was lying. Epimenides also made the Statue of Liberty disappear. Sorry. That was a … Continue reading

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You See What You Expect

Why do smart, sane, honest people sometimes disagree no matter how hard they try to find the truth? Name an issue: Abortion Feminism Immigration Islam President Trump Racism My friends and I often have stark disagreements about those issues. But … Continue reading

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History Bends Toward Chaos

Many people say that “the arc of history bends toward justice.” Pardon my French, but ce n’est pas vrai: It’s not true. It’s the opposite of the truth. If there is going to be justice in our world, we have … Continue reading

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Trick or Treat

Is it okay to “trick people” for their own good? That question comes up early in John Staddon’s book The New Behaviorism. I’ve just started reading it, and it’s a thought-provoking analysis. Behaviorism is a psychological approach that, true to … Continue reading

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