Yanis Varoufakis: Progressive Europeanism in Action

Yanis Varoufakis in Project Syndicate: Despite its obvious significance, Brexit is a mere sideshow when compared to the muffled but more fundamental disintegration taking place across the European Union. The political center is not holding in the key member states. Nationalism is on the march everywhere. Even pro-European governments have, in practice, abandoned all blueprints…

The New Evolution Deniers

Colin Wright in Quillette: The philosopher Daniel Dennett has described evolution as a sort of “universal acid” that “eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways.” Fearing this corrosive idea, opposition in the US to…

The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse by the Day

Ed Yong in The Atlantic: Before last week, few people had heard the name He Jiankui. But on November 25, the young Chinese researcher became the center of a global firestorm when it emerged that he had allegedly made the first crispr-edited babies, twin girls named Lulu and Nana. Antonio Regalado broke the story for MIT Technology Review, and…

Information Attacks on Democracies

Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier in Lawfare: Democracy is an information system. That’s the starting place of our new paper: “Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy.” In it, we look at democracy through the lens of information security, trying to understand the current waves of Internet disinformation attacks. Specifically, we wanted to explain why the same disinformation…

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape Podcast: David Chalmers on Consciousness, the Hard Problem, and Living in a Simulation

Sean Carroll in Preposterous Universe: The “Easy Problems” of consciousness have to do with how the brain takes in information, thinks about it, and turns it into action. The “Hard Problem,” on the other hand, is the task of explaining our individual, subjective, first-person experiences of the world. What is it like to be me, rather than…

Mohammed Hanif, author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes, brings a Kafkaesque doubleness of purpose to a story of war

Jonathan McAloon in The Irish Times: In Mohammed Hanif’s third novel Red Birds, US Air Force Major Ellie despairs of mission simulations being “dreamt up by some kid who’d never seen the inside of a cockpit”. Readers of literary fiction about war, if not of fiction in general, may feel a similar despair. Does the writer…

The Prophet of Envy

Robert Pogue Harrison in the New York Review of Books: René Girard (1923–2015) was one of the last of that race of Titans who dominated the human sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with their grand, synthetic theories about history, society, psychology, and aesthetics. That race has since given way to a more cautious…

The Illegitimacy of the Ruling Class

Thea N. Riofrancos in In These Times: Despite Christine Blasey Ford’s stirring testimony, an FBI investigation, thousands of protesters (hundreds of whom were arrested), petitions and phone calls from constituents, an elevator confrontation and a record-high disapproval rating, on October 6 the U.S. Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court by a margin of two. That evening,…

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

Brooke Jarvis in the New York Times: Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing. It was summer. He was…

What can psychology tell us about music?

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis at the blog of the Oxford University Press: Music can intensify moments of elation and moments of despair. It can connect people and it can divide them. The prospect of psychologists turning their lens on music might give a person the heebie-jeebies, however, conjuring up an image of humorless people in white…