Why We Believe Wacky Things, (Part III)

Billy’s Blog
This is Part III of Billy’s previous blog...As I write this morning two monsters, brothers named Said and Cherif Kouachi, are holed-up in a French printing factory with a hostage, insisting that they want to die as martyrs and thus experience the bliss of Allah’s blessing upon t ...
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Why We Believe Wacky Things (Part II)

Billy’s Blog
This is a continuation of Billy’s previous blog...Really smart and quite sane people can believe not-so-smart and way-too-crazy things. When I’m driving at night I often turn on the car radio to keep myself awake. Invariably, I stumble across a late-night program entitled “Coa ...
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Why We Believe Wacky Things (Part I)

Billy’s Blog
They say that seeing is believing, but new research suggests that isn’t so. To the contrary, believing is seeing. We do not believe things because we see them; we see things (even if they’re not actually there) or refuse to see them (though they may be right und ...
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The Power of Imagination

Billy’s Blog
Just a few months before I was born in 1958, the first International Tchaikovsky Competition was hosted, as it has been every four years since, in Moscow.  That inaugural year, the winner was a 23-year-old phenom named Van Cliburn. While Cliburn, as first-place champion, would soar to international ...
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The False Beauty of an Illusion

Billy’s Blog
il·lu·sionnoun. 1. An erroneous perception of reality. 2. An erroneous concept or belief. 3. The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief.dis·illu·sion·ment noun. The act of freeing someone from an illusion, or the state of being freed therefrom.You have a serio ...
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The View From the Peanut Gallery

Billy’s Blog
The year was 1935, and an eighth-grade boy whose uncle had nicknamed him “Sparky” was doing even worse than usual. As though being a shy, friendless nerd wasn’t bad enough, Sparky struggled mightily in school. He flunked algebra that year. He also received an F in English and Latin. Astonishin ...
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The Unwitting Doctor of Death

Billy’s Blog
In the middle of the 19th century the obstetrics ward of Krakenhaus Hospital in Vienna, Austria was supervised by Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis.  In his role there he watched fully 10% of his patients die of “childbed fever” after giving birth.  Women in that hospital f ...
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Fake it ’til You Make It!

Billy’s Blog
One of the most renowned pianists of the first half of the 20th century was the elegant, mysterious Olga Samaroff.  She was the first pianist from her country to receive a scholarship to the prestigious Paris Conservatoire in France.  She would perform with the New York Symphony Orchestra and the ...
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It’s Never Too Late!

Billy’s Blog
Harlan was a loser.  He’d lost his Dad at the age of 5, and for the next 6 decades things only seemed to get worse.  He dropped out of school at 12, and hit the road at 14.  He worked as a streetcar conductor and farm hand and hated both.  At age 16 he lied about his age and joined the army an ...
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Winner by a Nose and a Prayer

Billy’s Blog
Steven Van Rensselaer was a go-getter by anyone's definition. Elected to the New York legislature at the tender age of 25, he was upwardly mobile, it seemed, from the womb. He served in his state's legislature, then the senate, then as Lieutenant Governor, and finally the U.S. House of Representativ ...
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