India’s Dangerous New Curriculum

Alex Traub in the New York Review of Books: From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, the Mughal Empire did much to create modern-day India. It consolidated the country into a sovereign political unit, established a secular tradition in law and administration, and built monuments such as the Taj Mahal. The Mughals were originally from…

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape Podcast: Kip Thorne on Gravitational Waves, Time Travel, and Interstellar

Sean Carroll in Preposterous Universe: I remember vividly hosting a colloquium speaker, about fifteen years ago, who talked about the LIGO gravitational-wave observatory, which had just started taking data. Comparing where they were to where they needed to get to in terms of sensitivity, the mumblings in the audience after the talk were clear: “They’ll never make…

Despite vast increases in the time and money spent on research, progress is barely keeping pace with the past. What went wrong?

Patrick Collison and Michael Nielsen in The Atlantic: It’s surprisingly difficult to measure scientific progress in meaningful ways. Part of the trouble is that it’s hard to accurately evaluate how important any given scientific discovery is. Consider the early experiments on what we now call electricity. Many of these experiments seemed strange at the time. In…

Yochai Benkler argues that the mainstream media is our best hope for tempering the radical right

Deborah Chasman in the Boston Review: Deborah Chasman: The book focuses on the 2016 election and what made the public sphere so vulnerable to what you call “disinformation, propaganda, and just sheer bullshit.” You resist the idea that technology was the primary driver of that problem, that the manipulation of Facebook’s platform, the Russian intervention, and…

Plight of the Funny Female

Olga Khazan in The Atlantic: A few years ago, Laura Mickes was teaching her regular undergraduate class on childhood psychological disorders at the University of California, San Diego. It was a weighty subject, so occasionally she would inject a sarcastic comment about her own upbringing to lighten the mood. When she collected her professor evaluations…

‘The Academy Is Largely Itself Responsible for Its Own Peril’: Jill Lepore on writing the story of America

Evan Goldstein in The Chronicle of Higher Education: The book was supposed to end with the inauguration of Barack Obama. That was Jill Lepore’s plan when she began work in 2015 on her new history of America, These Truths (W.W. Norton). She had arrived at the Civil War when Donald J. Trump was elected. Not to alter…

End Times for American Liberalism

Anis Shivani in CounterPunch: Despite the most blatant violations of civil liberties in American history by a Republican Southern evangelical president fighting a never-ending crusade against “evil” itself, the three leading Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards make almost no mention of civil liberties as a campaign…