Vacation time!

Time for yours truly to take a (deserved, I think) vacation to recharge my intellectual batteries and come back ready to put out new essays and podcasts.

The very word “vacation” comes from the Latin vacare, meaning to be empty, free, or at leisure. Which is precisely what I intend to do.

I will be back next month, eager as always to share my thoughts and engage with yours.

Until then, remember: Philosophia longa, vita brevis!

~Massimo

p.s.: in the meantime, you can still read plenty of my essays, check out my Stoic Meditations podcast, read one of my books, or simply browse through the archive of suggested weekly readings. Enjoy!

Suggested readings, #112

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

‘Belonging is stronger than facts’: the age of misinformation. Social and psychological forces are combining to make the sharing and believing of misinformation an endemic problem with no easy solution. (New York Times)

Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless. (Vox)

The identity politics trap. The dangers of exclusion and how to avoid them. Our social identity is important for our sense of self-worth. But the very concept of social identity implies the exclusion of everyone else. In the political realm, that exclusion can quickly turn into oppression, but also resistance and rebellion. (IAI News)

Is it ever right to do the wrong thing? Let’s look at Batman… (Junkee)

How to deconstruct the world. Don’t believe everything you hear, read and watch. To puncture received ideas about culture, start thinking like Jacques Derrida. (Psyche)

Does quantum mechanics favor Buddhist philosophy? No. But Buddhism and quantum mechanics have much to teach each other. (Big Think)

Beyond the Nation-State. Sovereign states have been mythologized as the natural unit of political order. History shows how new they are—and how we can think beyond them. (Boston Review)

How accurate are personality tests? Precious few personality assessments are known to be reliable, and researchers say their use outside academia is debatable. (Scientific American)

Suggested readings, #111

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

The miracle of the commons. Far from being profoundly destructive, we humans have deep capacities for sharing resources with generosity and foresight. (Aeon)

The Hume paradox: how great philosophy leads to dismal politics. The Enlightenment genius showed how admirable skepticism in the world of ideas can translate into a miserable reactionary stance in the world of practical affairs. (Prospect Magazine)

Stoicism and the Law. The influence of Stoicism on the doctrine of the Roman jurisconsults. (Medium)

Me, myself and others. Loneliness, solitude and the return to people. (IAI News)

How to experience more wow. Awe might seem an unobtainable luxury to many but, with the right approach, you can enjoy it daily – no mountain required. (Psyche)

Suggested readings, #110

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Reductionism vs. emergence: Are you “nothing but” your atoms? Reductionism offers a narrow view of the universe that fails to explain reality. (Big Think)

How to take better notes for information retention. Educational psychologist Kenneth Kiewra has some advice to help you retain and remember more. (inc dot com)

Archaeology society blocks video of lecture arguing for more science-based research. Society for American Archaeology refuses to publish talk after Indigenous archaeologists call it racist and white supremacist. (The College Fix)

Anti-Anti-Anti-Science. A review of Science under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America. (LA Review of Books)

If you’re reading Stoicism for life hacks, you’re missing the point. (New York Times)

Suggested readings, #109

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Is magic immoral? It played a role in the development of early Christianity. [Not that that’s necessarily a good thing…] (The Conversation)

Brain wifi. Instead of a code encrypted in the wiring of our neurons, could consciousness reside in the brain’s electromagnetic field? (Kin-Keepers)

Ancient Greece’s Army of Lovers. Comprising a hundred and fifty male couples, Thebes’s Sacred Band was undefeated until it was wiped out in 338 B.C. In the nineteenth century, the mass grave of the men was found. (New Yorker)

“Civil War Is the Ongoing Condition of Democracy”: Reflections on Nicole Loraux. (JHI Blog)

The misinformation virus. Lies and distortions don’t just afflict the ignorant. The more you know, the more vulnerable you can be to infection. (Aeon)

Suggested readings, #108

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Sci-Fi & the meaning of life. Consider how non-human minds mirror our condition back to us. (Philosophy Now)

Lessons about anger in Plato’s Dialogues. Plato has a lot to teach us about that tricky emotion. (Medium)

Beeple and nothingness. The ontology of NFT art. (Aesthetics for Birds)

Why, despite everything, you should have kids (if you want them). In a time of Covid-19, climate change and catastrophe, having a baby is an act of radical hope. (New York Times)

Greeks bearing gifts. From Antikythera to AI—tracking the labyrinthine path of technology’s progress. (Lapham’s Quarterly)

The subversive philosophy of Simone Weil. Her family called her Antigone, her classmates “the categorical imperative in skirts”—but Simone Weil was a profoundly influential thinker. (Prospect Magazine)

Meritocracy and the future of work. Why we must overcome the “cult of intelligence.” [A very bizarre article, some interesting points, but…] (New Statesman)

Suggested readings, #107

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Stoic methods of journaling. Self-improvement through moral self-examination. (Medium)

When your authenticity is an act, something’s gone wrong. (Psyche)

Stockdale Paradox: why confronting reality is vital to success. Balancing realism and optimism in a dire situation is a key to success. (Big Think)

Should a self-driving car kill the baby or the grandma? Depends on where you’re from. The infamous “trolley problem” was put to millions of people in a global study, revealing how much ethics diverge across cultures. (MIT Technology Review)

The four moral judgments you make everyday. Our brains make snap moral decisions in mere seconds. (Big Think)

Suggested readings, #106

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Coronavirus: do we have a moral duty not to get sick? Yes, we do. (The Conversation)

An ontology of evil. Evolutionary biology, data science, and why evil is a bigger problem than many like to admit. (Medium)

What’s it like to go mad? Meet the man who found out. Psychosis gave Dutch linguist Wouter Kusters an insight into mental illness. See if you can make much sense of it, because I couldn’t. (Irish Times)

What does it mean to be a living thing? Review of what looks like a very good by science journalist Carl Zimmer. (New York Times)

The radiant inner life of a robot. Kazuo Ishiguro returns to masters and servants with a story of love between a machine and the girl she belongs to. Another book review, this time of a philosophically laden sci-fi book that I’ll probably put on the list for my regular philosophy book club. (The Atlantic)

Is indigenous science actually pseudoscience? Yup

Below are the first couple of paragraphs of two papers I have written about the ongoing problem (in Canada) of “indigenizing” the university, i.e., of introducing so-called indigenous science into standard science courses. Spoiler alert: with all due respect to indigenous people and what they have suffered, I think this is a terrible idea. You can download the two full papers here and here. The full book can be obtained here.

First paper: Is Indigenous Science Pseudoscience? A Response to Gorelick

There has been much debate of late about alternative ways of doing science, particularly within the delicate context of Indigenous practices in Canada, Australia, and other countries around the world. Some authors have called for the integration of what they refer to as traditional ecological knowledge into university science education curricula (Snively and Corsiglia 2000); others have made an even broader call pertinent to science in general (Michie 2002). Some have suggested that not just science education, but science proper, will benefit from the integration of Indigenous methods, especially when it comes to practical applications (Johnson et al. 2016).

The debate is often understandably emotional, as it is set against the background of the lingering aftermath of colonialism (Williams and Chrisman 2013), and within the broader issue of multiculturalism (Race 2015) and the productive coexistence of different traditions within a given society. It is also often framed in terms of pseudoscience (Pigliucci and Boudry 2013), with (some) critics of Indigenous approaches dismissively labelling the latter as pseudoscientific, and defenders of such approaches striving to show that they represent legitimate alternatives to what is often characterized as “Western” science. …

Second paper: Is Indigenous Science Pseudoscience? A Further Response to Gorelick

I wish to thank Root Gorelick for his kind words about me at the beginning of his response, though I would hardly recommend anyone to “revere” me! That said, his second piece is a bit all over the place, which makes it hard to pinpoint crucial aspects to respond to in a short follow-up. Nevertheless, I will highlight what I think are Gorelick’s major points and offer a counter- commentary.

He begins with an apology: “I am defending Indigenous ways of knowing despite being a naïve white person. There is nothing Indigenous about my carpet-bagger heritage.” This (in my view unnecessary) bit of self-deprecation is then followed, later on in the essay, by criticizing me as the white man who has not checked his privilege. For instance: “‘Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury,’ a luxury that we have as professors, being in a place of privilege [implying that I am a hypocritical individual who is unaware of his privilege, since Gorelick has just checked his own publicly] … Modern proponents of Indigenous ways of knowing strive for inclusivity, not usurpation nor conquest [implying that I am on the side of usurpation and conquest].” …

Suggested readings, #105

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Where Do Posthumanist Fantasies of Tech-Enabled Life Fit Into Evolution? (LitHub)

The fight against fake-paper factories that churn out sham science. Some publishers say they are battling industrialized cheating. A Nature analysis examines the ‘paper mill’ problem — and how editors are trying to cope. (Nature)

Where science and miracles meet. Recent speculations in physics reveal that believers and nonbelievers may have more in common than they think. (The Atlantic)

I have come to bury Ayn Rand. A prominent evolutionary biologist slays the beast of Individualism. (Nautilus)

Huxley’s warning. Orwell vs. Huxley, fear vs. pacification, and the battleground of individuality. (Medium)