Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists

David Adler in the NYT: My research suggests that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its institutions and the most supportive of authoritarianism. I examined the data from the most recentWorld Values Survey (2010 to 2014) andEuropean Values Survey (2008), two of the most comprehensive studies of…

How nations stay together

Andreas Wimmer in Aeon: hy do some countries fall apart, often along their ethnic fault lines, while others have held together over decades and centuries, despite governing a diverse population as well? Why is it, in other words, that nation-building succeeded in some places while it failed in others? The current tragedy in Syria illustrates…

The Real Driver of Rising Inequality

Lance Taylor over at INET: Income distribution and employment are crucial macroeconomic indicators. Profits are key to distribution. Ther share in the value of output has risen steadily since around 1980. Households near the top of the size distribution of income receive business profits through various channels including interest, dividends, capital gains, proprietors’ incomes, and…

Lend Me Your Ears

Isaac Butler has a new podcast over at Slate on politics and Shakespeare. The first episode is on Julius Caesar: In the summer of 2017, New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park staged a production of Julius Caesar that proved unexpectedly controversial. As played by Gregg Henry, Julius Caesar had pursed lips, inscrutable blond hair, and an…

Human nature matters

Skye Cleary and Massimo Pigliucci in Aeon: A strange thing is happening in modern philosophy: many philosophers don’t seem to believe that there is such a thing as human nature. What makes this strange is that, not only does the new attitude run counter to much of the history of philosophy, but – despite loud…

On Stedman Jones, ‘Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion’

Terence Renaud reviews Gareth Stedman-Jones’s new book in H-Net: [R]ecent, uplifting engagements with Marxism stand in contrast to Gareth Stedman Jones’s new biography of Marx. While it too aims to shatter the “monumental mythology” that has surrounded the German philosopher since the late nineteenth century, the book hardly uplifts the reader. Reading Karl Marx: Greatness and…

Human Rights and Neoliberalism

Nils Gilman in the LA Review of Books: THIS MARVELOUS BOOK is a history of one of the hardest things to explain: why something did not happen. Histories of non-events are inherently difficult to write because of the methodological commitment of historians to stick close to documentary sources, and things that don’t happen rarely leave an obvious…

New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning

Natalie Wolchover in Quanta Magazine: Even as machines known as “deep neural networks” have learned to converse, drive cars, beat video games and Go champions, dream, paint pictures and help make scientific discoveries, they have also confounded their human creators, who never expected so-called “deep-learning” algorithms to work so well. No underlying principle has guided…

Let’s Not Lose Our Minds

Carl Zimmer in Medium: Trofim Lysenko was a little-known researcher at the time. He did his experiment in the early years of Stalin’s dictatorship, when Stalin was facing dangerous food shortages across the Soviet Union. He had just responded by forcing peasants onto collectivized farms, a terrible decision that would lead over the next decade…