Who is (should be) an Expert?
There is one characteristic that all the BigThink Experts have in common. They are all privileged. The word "privilege" comes from the Latin for "private law"; that is to say, rights that apply to particular individuals and are granted based on one’s position or status. If these people didn’t achieve their status as experts because of privilege, they achieved their privileged status because someone or something powerful conferred it upon them. However, as an anthropologist, I have a hard time with such an elite view on who should be or who should not be considered an expert. I hesitate to ignore the advice of others who don’t have as much privilege, but who do have valuable knowledge and wisdom drawn from a deep well of multi-generational and direct experience. Anyone who’s sat down with a commercial fisherman to talk about fish stocks, a Native American elder to talk about geography, or a farmer to talk about the weather knows what I mean.
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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