Fast essays on fixable flaws in the ideas running our lives.
Why do some smart folk spout such bad ideas? Marilynne Robinson says it's because we teach them "higher twaddle.” She's right, but the situation is worse than she fears.
It is said that we still love Shakespeare because his characters enacted universal features of human nature. But what should we make of the fact that he found fault in ambition, while we don't now (mostly)....
A common belief that regulations are a burden on businesses is challenged by Maryn McKenna’s book Big Chicken.
“Scientists should think like poets,” says E.O. Wilson, because new metaphors mobilize new thinking.
Is "science broken" or self-correcting? And who is going to do the grown-up thing and fix the game (instead of scoring points within it)?
Are noble 18th-century norms fit for 21st-century life? Especially when, as Yuval Harari says, liberalism’s “factual statements just don’t stand up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.”
Does happiness require a rebellion against evolution?
Rationality isn't the rule, it's rare. That's true of the sort of optimizing rationality that economists presume we all have (even though many economists themselves fall short of that standard).
Edward Luce's new book is The Retreat of Western Liberalism, but let's clarify its logic.
We're at risk of mistaking the music for the piano in using a “jump to the gene” approach to biology. It's time for a more fitting view of genes to evolve.
Key logic in America’s founding documents is now too often neglected. Do you know what “the Declaration” lists as the first justification for America’s Independence?
How did our world come to be ruled by a view of human nature that contradicts the testimony of much of history, and the bulk of the arts, and your daily experience? Mathoholics are to blame.
Our way of life needs a skills upgrade, to reinstall certain old stoic ideas. Using your rights well needs "happiness bootcamp" skills.
Art is a key source of wisdom (it's effects can be powerfully mind-altering). Here are some examples from Shakespeare (from Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library).
A key cognitive bias isn’t a bug, it’s just operator error (and easily correctable by using reason as nature intended).
Science (and life) keep hammering nails “into the coffin of the rational individual." But rationalism and individualism still haunt and systematically mislead—even about where your mind is.
A chorus of new science is showing that evolution has orchestrated life to leave no room for solos. A grander view of life is revealing higher-level, need-centric relational logic patterns (as in...
The state of nature isn't a "war of all against all." Even no-brainer bacteria "know" that sometimes the game is "Survival of the Friendliest"
Evolution exists and exerts itself in a different way than gravity does... because natural selection is an "algorithmic force."
Natural "narrative selection" was key to turning insignificant apes (who had tools for 2 million years) into the species that now dominates the bio-sphere.