Author Archives: N.S. Palmer

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.

Embrace the Paradox of Self-Improvement

Are you good enough as you are, or do you think you can do better? That question highlights the paradox of self-improvement. Before you can make your life better, you must believe you’re worthy of something better. That means accepting … Continue reading

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They’re Not Lying

Do you have friends who say things that are obviously wrong? Maybe it’s politics, religion, gender, or some other touchy subject. This might help: Your friends aren’t lying. And they’re not evil, either, unless you have very bad judgment about … Continue reading

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Can We Measure the Quality of Debates?

As an undergraduate mathematics major, I had to take three semesters of statistics. I’m pretty good at mathematics, but statistics is a different animal. To adapt the famous last words of English actor Edmund Gwenn, “Mathematics is easy. Statistics is … Continue reading

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Why My Father Was Never Sick

In “Unbreakable” (2000), Bruce Willis played a middle-aged man who discovered that he was an invulnerable superhero. Obviously, superhero movies require our suspension of disbelief. In “Unbreakable,” the hardest thing to believe was not that Willis’s character was invulnerable, or … Continue reading

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Making Peace with “the Passions”

“But what about the passions?” It was another philosophy class in college. We were discussing some abstruse intellectual topic. And my classmate Dave was interjecting — again — a lot of irrelevant chatter about “the passions.” The passions were a … Continue reading

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Puzzled About Huawei Arrest

I don’t have the answers. I’m simply puzzled. On behalf of the U.S. government, Canadian officials arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Reports say that as an executive of Huawei, she is charged with evading … Continue reading

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A Tool’s Got to Know Its Limitations

What do DNA, psychological questionnaires, and my new car have in common? DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule in which plants and animals encode the basic characteristics of their bodies. It’s what makes a rose a rose instead of a … Continue reading

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