David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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A Literary Critic for Biologists?

Question: What do you set\r\nout to accomplish when you write a literary essay?


Louis Menand:  I’m\r\n trying to make the subject\r\ninteresting to other people, that’s the main job of being a writer. \r\nBecause\r\nit’s a subject that I’m interested in, so that’s what I really care \r\nabout, I\r\ndon’t really usually push an agenda, and I don’t feel that my main job \r\nis to\r\npersuade people of something.  My\r\nmain job is to help them think about something.


Question: Who is your\r\npresumed audience when you write? 


Louis Menand:  For\r\n the kind of places I’ve written for\r\nand the kind of writing that I’ve done, the general way to think about \r\nyour\r\naudience is to think about somebody who’s like yourself, but in a \r\ncompletely\r\ndifferent discipline.  So I\r\ngenerally think of a biologist, or professor of biology. \r\n So if I’m writing about T. S.\r\nEliot,  this is probably someone\r\nwho’s heard of T. S. Eliot, may have read some T. S. Eliot in college, \r\nbut\r\ndoesn’t know a whole lot more about T. S. Eliot, because they’re busy \r\ndoing more\r\nimportant things with their brains, but they might be interested in \r\nsomething\r\nthat I have to say about T. S. Eliot. \r\nSo I have to write it in a way that appreciates that this \r\nperson’s\r\nprobably very well educated, a smart person, and at the same time, \r\ndoesn’t know\r\nanything effectively about what it is I’m writing about. \r\n And that’s really the trick of writing\r\nfor places like the New York Review of Books or the New Yorker, which \r\nare two\r\nof the places that I’ve written a lot for.


So that’s really my audience.  Now,\r\n the actual audience could be very different, could be a\r\nlot of retired high school teachers, or, you know, or graduate students \r\nor\r\nanybody.  It’s very hard to know\r\nwho your readers are, but that’s who I’m... if I have somebody in my \r\nhead, that’s\r\nprobably who it is.

The audience that the New Yorker critic has in mind is "somebody who’s like yourself, but in a completely different discipline."

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

  • From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
  • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
  • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

COVID-19 brain study to explore long-term effects of the virus

A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.

  • The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
  • Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
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Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
  • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
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Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

Image: metamorworks / Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
  • More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
  • SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
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