Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg is senior analyst with the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), a nonprofit nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving public understanding of scientific and social research.

Recent Articles

Nonsense Watch:

A new report from the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that while Americans claim to love science and technology, most don't understand it. Americans seem to blindly revere things "scientific" and also extend that reverence to pseudoscience and superstition, including belief in aliens, psychic powers, and haunted houses. The Oxford English Dictionary defines superstition as the "unreasoning awe or fear of something unknown, mysterious or imaginary." So what draws us to such imaginary beliefs? Perhaps they give us a sense of control over things that are uncontrollable. Discovering exactly why things happen may be difficult if not impossible for a lay person, so the rationale provided by superstition offers a comfortable refuge from painful reality. Science is difficult and time-consuming while pseudoscience is quick and easy. Superstition is not limited to otherworldly events such as UFOs and mind reading. Some baseball fans insist on going through certain rituals before or...