science and witchcraft

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“The spread of germs is the price we pay for the spread of ideas.”
Nicholas Christakis

1990s Hackers: “I’m building a free operating system to run the internet”.
2020s Hackers: “I’m building a casino to sell memes to gullible people for fake money by incinerating the planet”.


“It’s easy to do great things within a great culture; the real trailblazers do great things within toxic cultures.”@white_owly

Psychological Safety and Rocket Science by @ACuginotti

You can find out the real cause of the [Challenger] accident by listening to the testimonials of the then junior engineers. They speak of emotions like guilt and remorse for not stepping up to their bosses and managers on a decision that they deep inside knew it was wrong. One of the interviewees talk about his mixed feelings while pressing the button to send the authorisation document to NASA … But those engineers were actually good in rocket science. What they were not good at, not individually but as a collective, was in creating a space that was psychologically safe to speak out.

Blood on the virtual street at Clubhouse

The appeal of Clubhouse is the addictive feeling it gives of participating in serious and thoughtful conversation between interesting people in an atmosphere of conviviality and trust. But conversational quality, and convivial trust, can only be fostered by constraining who can participate. This serves to keep the speakers interesting and safeguard a measure of shared adherence to conversational norms.

Why Did Women Stop Dominating the Beer Industry? via @finnern

So if you traveled back in time to the Middle Ages or the Renaissance and went to a market in England, you’d probably see an oddly familiar sight: women wearing tall, pointy hats. In many instances, they’d be standing in front of big cauldrons.

But these women were no witches; they were brewers.

They wore the tall, pointy hats so that their customers could see them in the crowded marketplace. They transported their brew in cauldrons. And those who sold their beer out of stores had cats not as demon familiars, but to keep mice away from the grain. Some argue that iconography we associate with witches, from the pointy hat to the cauldron, originated from women working as master brewers.

three witches of northampton

Cover of the pamphlet “The Witches of Northampton” showing three witches riding on a sow, published after the Northamptonshire witch trials

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