When Paying Taxes Became Un-American

Topic: Taxation and democracy  

Noam Chomsky: In a democracy, April 15th, when you pay your taxes, would be a day of celebration.  Here we've gotten together as a community, we've decided on certain policies and now we're moving to implement them by our own participation.  That's not the way it's viewed in the United States.  That's a day of mourning.  There's this alien entity, sort of like a—as if it's from Mars somewhere, which is stealing our hard-earned money from us.  We have to give it up, because we have no choice.

Well, that reflects the undermining of even a conception of democracy.

Recorded on: Aug 18, 2009

In a functioning democracy, Noam Chomsky claims, people would celebrate on tax day—why then do most Americans view every April 15th as a day of mourning?

The science behind ‘us vs. them’

Humans may have evolved to be tribalistic. Is that a bad thing?

Videos
  • From politics to every day life, humans have a tendency to form social groups that are defined in part by how they differ from other groups.
  • Neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky, author Dan Shapiro, and others explore the ways that tribalism functions in society, and discuss how—as social creatures—humans have evolved for bias.
  • But bias is not inherently bad. The key to seeing things differently, according to Beau Lotto, is to "embody the fact" that everything is grounded in assumptions, to identify those assumptions, and then to question them.

Catacombs of Paris: The city of darkness finds its new raison d'être

Ancient corridors below the French capital have served as its ossuary, playground, brewery, and perhaps soon, air conditioning.

Credit: Inspection Générale des Carrières, 1857 / Public domain
Strange Maps
  • People have been digging up limestone and gypsum from below Paris since Roman times.
  • They left behind a vast network of corridors and galleries, since reused for many purposes — most famously, the Catacombs.
  • Soon, the ancient labyrinth may find a new lease of life, providing a sustainable form of air conditioning.
Keep reading Show less

What early US presidents looked like, according to AI-generated images

"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.

Magdalene Visaggio via Twitter
Technology & Innovation
  • A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
  • "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
  • It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
Keep reading Show less

Baby's first poop predicts risk of allergies

Meconium contains a wealth of information.

Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that the contents of an infants' first stool, known as meconium, can predict if they'll develop allergies with a high degree of accuracy.
  • A metabolically diverse meconium, which indicates the initial food source for the gut microbiota, is associated with fewer allergies.
  • The research hints at possible early interventions to prevent or treat allergies just after birth.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast