Category Archives: Social Progress

Hans Rosling: FACTFULNESS (2018)

This is a book that explores why most people are wrong on key facts about the world, thinking it worse than it is, e.g. concerning poverty, life expectancy, etc. In a sense it’s a modern-day counterpart to Steven Pinker’s THE … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Sustainability and Rural Living

Problem? Or solution? Sarah Smarsh: Something Special Is Happening in Rural America. Subtitle: There is a “brain gain” afoot that suggests a national homecoming to less bustling spaces. Writing from Wichita The nation’s most populous cities, the bicoastal pillars of … Continue reading

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Junger: TRIBE

Sebastian Junger’s TRIBE: On Homecoming and Belonging (Grand Central/Twelve 2016) is one of several short, relatively ‘incidental’, books I’ve read in the past month — ‘incidental’ in that they’re mostly off-topic to my more serious themes of science, philosophy, and … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Trump and His Supporters; Versions of Leviticus; Ancient Aliens, Skepticism, and What Science Fiction Is Not

I’ve been preoccupied with other matters in recent months, and need to resume regular posting of Links and Comments from things I see in the papers and magazines that I think are pertinent, in one way or another. If I … Continue reading

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David Brooks on Myths vs. Parables

New York Times columnist David Brooks runs hot and cold with me; ostensibly a conservative, he’s too inclined to dismiss new ideas in favor of sanctified values, for my taste, yet he does read widely and responds to many new … Continue reading

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Link and Comments: Hollywood and Liberals

NYT: Neil Gross, Why Is Hollywood So Liberal? Best guess: There is, however, a third explanation worth pondering: that the emotional requirements of acting are conducive to progressive politics. “The overwhelmingly liberal orientation of actors,” Professor Ross has written, “can … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Sports and Trump; Pinker and Gates; Tribal Allegiance and Actual Progress

NYT, 3Feb18: Trump’s Blood Sport Politics. The writer recalls “”The Sporting Spirit,” an essay written by George Orwell in 1945 that sought to reckon with the rise of our modern athletic-industrial complex.” For Orwell, the rise of sports was bound … Continue reading

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Passages from Pinker

As a palette cleanser from my last post, here are some thoughts from my ongoing reading of Steven Pinker’s THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE, a history of the world with focus on violence, that summarizes that history through phases: … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: On believing; Waking up; Health care fantasies

Here’s a long, multi-panel cartoon from The Oatmeal called Believe, which illustrates how readily or not we take in new information that conflicts with our previous assumptions, or foundational beliefs. (Via We Should Celebrate New Information Even When It Means … Continue reading

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Two Interviews about Current Books, about Reproductive Technologies and Social Cohesion

Two radio interviews this week worth noting, in part just for the pleasure of listening to smart people, in contrast to what we dutifully hear every day from our politicians. First, this KQED forum interview in which Bioethicist Hank Greely … Continue reading

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