Reference Blog Entries

Science Versus Chocolate

Megan's picture

Chocolate candiesYou may have read about the journalist who used a seemingly scientific study to fool many into believing that chocolate would help with weight loss. This was possible because the test he ran had very few subjects, so some of his results were likely to appear significant, even if they weren’t.

How do we know which of the latest scientific results are real and which aren’t? Carl Sagan would recommend honing your baloney detector, but it’s also helpful to learn more about how studies are done, and what kinds of biases and mistakes might alter their outcomes. Even if the data from a study is great, its interpretation may be flawed, making it unreliable. Unfortunately, there are many possible biases that can influence not only scientific studies, but our own understandings of how the world works. Learn more in our databases below:

The Wright Stuff

Laura's picture

Popular historian David McCullough has written a new book about Wilbur and Orville Wright called The Wright Brothers.  In it he emphasizes the brothers’ broad range of knowledge despite the fact that they never graduated from high school.  He praises their intellect, their tenacity, courage, and the meticulous record-keeping that shows beyond doubt that they were the first men to actually fly a heavier-than-air machine. 

But he doesn’t just write about their accomplishments.  He also writes about their character and the influence that members of their family and the place and time in which they lived had on building their character.

The library’s databases have extensive information on the Wright brothers including biographical sketches, primary source accounts (one written by one of their rival experimenters, Octave Chanute in 1908; one Wilbur's own diary entry from the day of the famous flight) as well as the scientific problems that they had to overcome in order to change the very way we look at ourselves as beings on the earth.

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