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Talking about Evil

Question: Who is history’s most evil person?

Neiman:  I think the question is mistaken and I’ll tell you why. I don’t think we have a right to talk about evil people. If we could see the inside of people’s souls, we might have a right to do that but if anybody can do that it’s God and on some accounts even God doesn’t know how people are going to act. And certainly on Kant’s account and on Freud’s account we don’t know our own souls very well. We are subject to self-deception. We tell ourselves that we’re doing things for all kinds of reasons that aren’t true. So talking about evil people I think completely misses the mark. Where an awful lot of progressives go wrong is that they see that and they see that things are complicated and then they say, “Well, we can’t talk about evil at all,” and I think on the contrary we can as long as we talk about evil actions. And I think it’s not hard to come up with a whole list of evil actions and I think pointing it to the Nazis is too easy. I think there are a whole bunch of other evil actions that we can point to. We have to realize that they can be committed by people who not only may not have evil intentions but sometimes have good ones and certainly very often have mediocre ones.

Susan Neiman discusses how best to examine people in regards to evil.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
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Conspicuous consumption is over. It’s all about intangibles now

These new status behaviours are what one expert calls 'inconspicuous consumption'.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Tiffany
Politics & Current Affairs
In 1899, the economist Thorstein Veblen observed that silver spoons and corsets were markers of elite social position.
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