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The Charge of the Heavy Brigade; or, Totalitarianism Is Thriving and It Is Our Fault

The modern dictator needs only to become a client-state to Russia or China (or to be Russia or China), and there is nothing he can't get away with. We members of open societies have the power to change that. All we need is the resolve.

What is a villain?

Do we all want to be villains?

In Defense Of Hashtags

Even snobs and technophobes should accept the hashtag.

Under The Lid of Over The Top Success

Is Youthful Pain the Key to Success?

Edward Snowden Had No Way Out

Edward Snowden had no way out. 

A Judge Stops and Frisks "Stop and Frisk"

Hon. Shira A Scheindlin has struck major blow to Michael Bloomberg's and Ray Kelly's racist and megalomaniacal "Stop and Frisk" policy. Bloomberg's and Kelly's policy acts in direct opposition to both the progress of our culture and of the laws they have sworn to uphold.

"Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It." Really?

History shows that both those who do not learn history and those who do learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Remember Iraq?

Huge prison break, huge setback for costly war, many lives imperiled: no coverage. 

Stop Asking Whether Things Are "OK".

Who elected young college graduates the kings and queens of language?

The Singularity Of Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil is singularly sure about The Singularity.

"It Is What It Is." Really?

It is what it is, but it is not what it should be.

Why Homo Sapiens Still Can't "Have It All"

There is no circumstance that people could possibly contrive for ourselves which would constitute "having it all".

What is "Kafkaesque" Really?

The death of the man himself shows that the word "Kafkaesque" is not guilty of the vacuousness which it is sometimes accused of.

An American Idea: The Great Synthesizer

America is the most original country in history precisely because everything American is stolen.

"The Exception That Proves the Rule" Explained

I neglected the obvious answer to the question of why there exists a useless, contrived, poorly phrased cliche which does not meet good principles of reasoning and serves only to cloud issues.

An American Idea: The Separation of Church and State

Thomas Jefferson's metaphor of "a wall between church and state" remains as sturdy and impenetrable as ever, even as it is dangerously ignored.

An American Idea: The Blues

With The Blues, America invented modern music.

What Karl Marx and George Bush Have In Common

The biggest lesson from Popper's philosophy is that skepticism is the ultimate open-mindedness.

Orwellian Phrase of the Week: "Orwellian"

Eric Blair (George Orwell's real name) himself might not like the use of the damning, eponymous term "Orwellian"

Kafka, Orwell, and Conservatism

What if Conservative ideology is more Kafka than Orwell? Are the people who say they fear an imminent dystopia actually just really annoyed?

Why Should I Keep a Stiff Upper Lip?

What an odd and outdated national value the British have.

Superman Should Not Study Philosophy

A little bit of philosophy can be a dangerous thing.

You Are Not A Hero.

Who isn't a hero these days?

A Brief Guide to a Big Week at The Supreme Court

This week, The Supreme Court of The United States will hand down decisions on a number of major issues.

Here is what you need to know to stay up to date with the three biggest ones:

1) The court already ruled today on its Affirmative Action case, you can read the majority opinion here. A prospective student sued the University of Texas on the grounds that she had been denied admission in place of somebody who had allegedly been admitted based on racial factors. Supporters had hoped that a broad ruling might illegalize the practice of factoring race into admission across the board.

The takeaway from the ruling is not negligible but is not the sweeping change many people expected. By and large, the court kicked the decision back down to a lower court

The other two each regard gay rights.

2) DOMA, The Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, is under fire in the case of United States V. Windsor. The court did not offer a ruling, but one is expected soon, most likely Tuesday morning. The government is being sued on the grounds that married gay couples do not receive the same federal benefits as straight couples. You can read about the relationship to political policy here.

3) Proposition 8, the controversial California ballot issue, is also being challenged in the case of Hollingsworth V. Perry. While the legal matter is ostensibly a voting rights issue, this is being viewed as primarily an issue with same-sex marriage in America's most populous state. Depending on which way it goes, and what the majority opinion dictates, this could have ramifications for the legality and the illegality of gay marriage in other states as well.

You can read more of our coverage on the development of this case here and here.

Slicing Up the Brain

This is your brain on rye.

What if homosexuality were a choice?

The people who think that it is a choice to be gay think that it is a bad choice. It isn't.

How To Be Wrong Right

An "ex-gay" Ministry President shows us all how apology is done.

Orwellian Phrase of the Week: "Offensive"

I find your use of the word "offensive" to be offensive.

'A drunk mind speaks a sober heart.' Really?

Should we take people's drunken behavior as evidence of their true character?

The Standing Man

Turkey's Standing Man is inspiring protesters across the country.

Bill Nye, the Crusading Visionary Guy

Bill Nye's viral Big Think video continues to spread the thoughts of an inspirational man.

No, everything does not happen for a reason

"Everything happens for a reason" is my very least favorite thing for someone to say.

"All Men Are Created Equal." Really?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Really?

"Blood is Thicker Than Water." Really?

People who believe that blood is thicker than water seem determined to test it by shedding as much blood as possible.

Four Big Ideas Behind the NSA Leak Story

What do we need to think about in light of the recent NSA leaks story? Precedent, collateral damage, discourse, and jumping on the grenade.

The Last Men on Top?

What it was like to be a man in the early 1960s, but one who was not Don Draper or Roger Sterling, is an issue that is both poignant and chronically unconsidered in hindsight. 

"YOLO." Really?

You only live once. So don't be an idiot.

Orwellian Phrase of the Week

Which sayings are true, and which ones just sound nice?

The Tower of Terror

This is not a moral appeal. This is not a political appeal. This is a linguistic appeal.

Introducing The Proverbial Skeptic

Which sayings are true, and which ones just sound nice? 


A Review of Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Hitchens finds time to joke, to be scared and weak, and to attack belief in prayer on its own terms.

Bill Nye Isn't Dead, He's Gone Viral

Bill Nye has made national news with his statements on creationism versus evolution on Big Think. The big idea behind it: if you reject science, you won't succeed, and we as a society won't succeed to the fullest extent.

Obama's Cold, Mathematical Calculation

Cheers for STEM. But what about the, um, rest of the fabulous, life changing, extraordinary and often more important teachers who don't teach math, engineering, technology or science?

Four Technologies That Could Revolutionize The Way We Live

A rash of new companies have sprung up to meet the demand for transportation of crew and cargo to orbit and to the International Space Station left by NASA's cancelling of the shuttle program.

How Close is the Turing Test to Being Beaten?

Can the human mind be explained as a solely material thing? Can a machine ever be conscious?