Ls&Cs: Is DNA Safe to Eat? Is America Undergoing a Mass Psychosis?

Paul Krugman on Republican resistance to investments in the future; a concern about whether DNA is safe to eat; about watching Fox News every day; and about Carl Jung’s warning about mass psychosis.

Paul Krugman patiently explains why Biden’s Build Back Better is subject in Congress to “a perfect storm of bad faith, bad logic and bad arithmetic.”

NYT, Paul Krugman, 13 Dec 2021: The Bogus Bashing of Build Back Better

He explains what the program will do, and who it will benefit.

So how can anyone be opposed to making these investments?

I guess reporting conventions require that journalists pretend to believe that Republicans have good-faith objections to the Biden plan — that they’re worried about deficits, or the effect on incentives, or something. But we all know that their main objection is simply the fact that it’s a Democratic initiative, which means that it must fail.

Also, it would tax the rich and help the poor.

And then he challenges the Republican objections to the bill, e.g. how the cost (over 10 years) is far smaller than the single year’s defense budget Congress just passed without batting an eye. And,

Remember, the U.S. economy is enormous. The budget office estimates that in its first year Build Back Better would expand the deficit by 0.6 percent of gross domestic product, a number that would shrink over time.


Many are concerned about elistist concepts they don’t understand and elite scientists who promote them. And so a major magazine addresses a significant concern.

Forbes, 13 Dec 2021: DNA Is Safe To Eat. RNA Isn’t Bad Either.

(Next up: the truth about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide!)


Salon, Chauncey DeVega, 14 Dec 2021: This man lives in the paranoid alternate universe of Fox News — so you don’t have to, subtitled, “Researcher Andrew Lawrence marinates daily in the racist terror and apocalypse porn of Tucker Carlson and friends”

In the upside-down world alternate universe created by Fox News, “real Americans” are under siege in “their own country” from nonwhite, non-English-speaking immigrants, Black and brown people more generally, and street violence orchestrated by antifa, the Black Lives Matter movement and other bogeymen.

And criminals and wokeness and “socialism” and the gays and “political correctness” and the attacks on Christmas and Christian values and “Western civilization”. A paranoid fantasy world. With an interview with Andrew Lawrence, who’s done the watching.


Looking at all this in the broadest context — in the sense that these things have happened before:

Salon, Nicole Karlis, 14 Dec 2021: Is America experiencing mass psychosis?, subtitled, “Psychologists say that America is going through what Carl Jung warned us would happen eventually.”

Citing the Covid and election-stolen hoaxes.

It should go without saying that these kinds of beliefs are fantasy, not rooted in any rational fact or evidence. Hence, someone observing from afar the rise in conspiratorial beliefs and pseudoscience might characterize a vast swath of the American public as delusional. From the COVID-truther movement to people believing the 2020 presidential election was rigged, it appears that the body politic is — to put it mildly — no longer on the same page.

Given the perturbed psychological state of so many Americans, it is worth asking if something is happening — psychologically speaking — that is causing many Americans to live in very different realities.

Psychologists say yes; and, moreover, that what is happening was actually predicted long ago by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. Indeed, Jung once wrote that the demise of society wouldn’t be a physical threat, but instead mass delusion — a collective psychosis of sorts.

It goes on. My thought is our current era would be a new chapter in a book like the famous one by Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841. (Wikipedia.) More recent books of that type have been published by Martin Gardner, and more recently by Kurt Andersen (Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (2018)).



Bright and sunny today, after the storm.

I spent the core of the today working on one of my several parallel projects, the updating and completion of the ranked lists on This entails posting lists of the “all-time best” SF and F/H novels, and of novellas, novelettes, and short stories. I finished the last round of short fiction categories, for novellas, about two months ago, in October. I promoted it on Facebook, and got some surprising flack from one commentator in particular, one Jim Harris. He accused my scheme, which combines awards data with anthology reprint data and poll data, as being a sort of bingo scheme — one check in this row, another check in that. It took me a day before I realized Jim Harris is the proprietor of Classics of Science Fiction, which uses similar schemes, albeit less nuanced, to generate lists of best novels and short fiction. So… I will leave it at that.

In any case, the time has come to finish my own ranked novel lists, and perhaps adjust the criteria for other lists. I’m now thinking, as I’ve gone back and forth about, that separate rankings for the 20th and 21st centuries might be appropriate, to avoid the issue of how to rank very recent works with much older, enculturated works.

Anyway, the first step for the short fiction (novella, novelette, short story) rankings is to include anthologies from the past couple years since the original rankings were posted. (Recent awards data has been compiled all along.)

And this entailed revisiting the steps in my various databases for importing Table of Contents (TOC) information from various sources, formatting it for inclusion in my databases, and running all the steps to update all the relevant pages on

As much as I try to document everything I’ve done in all my databases — for the perhaps imaginary idea that someone might take them over when I’m gone — I discovered that my steps for these processes were woefully incomplete. Yes, I’d compiled over 1000 anthologies, in many stages, up to a couple years ago, but in steps that I hadn’t documented sufficiently so that someone else could follow them.

I couldn’t even follow some of them myself; some were installed as macro steps, others I’d done manually, back then. So I’ve had to rediscover my own steps, and now document them very carefully, if only for my own future reference.

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