Gold rush. A short video takes viewers inside the gold vault of the Bank of England. The scientist/host Martyn Poliakoff has a great voice, big hair, and a super-wide tie. The video is part of the YouTube channel Periodic Videos from the University of Nottingham, which features more than 500 videos about chemistry. The website is here.
Certain? Social scientist Jonathan Haidt subjects books by three prominent new atheists to textual analysis software and discovers they use more words expressing certainty—never, always—than do conservatives like Ann Coulter.
Rich-world vanity. NYU professor William Easterly critiques the Gates Foundation annual letter on international aid, which we linked to last week. “The obsession with international aid is a rich-world vanity that exaggerates the importance of western elites,” Easterly writes. “It is comforting to imagine that benevolent leaders advised by wise experts could make the poor world rich. But this is a condescending fantasy. The progress that Mr Gates celebrates is the work of entrepreneurs, inventors, traders, investors, activists—not to mention ordinary people of commitment and ingenuity striving for a better life.” (Free registration is required to read the Easterly article at The Financial Times.)
Annoying creatures. Yale computer science professor David Gelertner writes a penetrating essay on the closing of the scientific mind. “Many scientists are proud of having booted man off his throne at the center of the universe and reduced him to just one more creature—an especially annoying one—in the great intergalactic zoo. That is their right. But when scientists use this locker-room braggadocio to belittle the human viewpoint, to belittle human life and values and virtues and civilization and moral, spiritual, and religious discoveries, which is all we human beings possess or ever will, they have outrun their own empiricism. They are abusing their cultural standing. Science has become an international bully.”