Suggested readings, #98

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

The coup we are not talking about. We can have democracy, or we can have a surveillance society, but we cannot have both. (New York Times) And this one should very much worry us.

How the brain responds to beauty. Scientists search for the neural basis of an enigmatic experience. (Scientific American) As usual, a piece on neuroscience that promises far more than it delivers. Still, some interesting stuff.

What if selling out is the right thing to do? (Junkee) It isn’t, and this article does a decent job at critiquing the much popular Effective Altruism movement.

Metaphysics in free fall. How empty intuitions lead philosophy astray (IAI News) Along similar lines, see also this.

Pseudophilosophy encourages confused, self-indulgent thinking. (Aeon / Psyche) Along similar lines, see also this.

Where have all the lesbians gone? They’re coming out as nonbinary or as men. (The Weekly Dish) A rather controversial take on the relationship between lesbian and transgender identities.

The best science diction of 2020. Sci fi is booming, says Tom Hunter, the director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction, as he discusses their 2020 shortlist: six novels that embrace classic sci fi narratives, while subverting or reimagining them for a contemporary audience. (FiveBooks)

Suggested readings, #97

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

Did an alien life-form do a drive-by of our solar system in 2017? (New York Times) We have no good reason to believe it, but it sure sells books.

Aristotle to anti-vax: internet and the decline of reason. (World Crunch) Though one wonders whether reason was ever much higher than it is now.

The tyranny of work. Jobs have become, for so many, a relentless, unsatisfying toil. Why then does the work ethic still hold so much sway? (Aeon)

There are two kinds of happy people. Some of us strive for a virtuous life. Others strive for a pleasant one. We could all use a better balance. (Atlantic) A bit simplistic, but some food for thought.

The inflation of concepts. Human rights, health, the rule of law – why are these concepts inflated to the status of totalizing, secular religions? (Aeon) One of the best articles you’ll read this month.

Suggested readings, #96

Genetics research.

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

How religion shaped modern economics. In the 18th century, a new Protestant belief that people have control over their destinies fostered the rise of free-market ideas. (Wall Street Journal) A bit too upbeat, in my opinion, about the connection between religion and economics. But food for thought.

In science we trust? Twenty-country Pew survey shows trust in scientists—with major caveats. (Skeptical Inquirer) Major caveats indeed. Despite the title of the piece, there doesn’t seem to be much trust in science. Also, some surprising results…

What if (almost) every gene affects (almost) everything? Three Stanford scientists have a provocative way of thinking about genetic variants, and how they affect people’s bodies and health. (The Atlantic) That was my position for many years as a biologist. Doesn’t look good for prospects of precision human genetic engineering.

Marcus Aurelius in therapy. How to do psychotherapy with a Roman Emperor. (Medium)

Intellectual sins. The longer the Hume racism debate goes on, the more I’m convinced his name should not be removed from The University of Edinburgh’s tallest tower. (Medium) Yet another well balanced piece by Julian Baggini.

Self esteem is overrated. (Skeptical Inquirer) It really is.

Plato, a short guide to all the dialogues. (Britannica)

Suggested readings, #95

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

The hidden biases that drive anti-vegan hatred. (BBC)

Making sense of morality: Alasdair MacIntyre’s ethics. (Medium) I don’t make sense of ethics that way, but MacIntyre is one of the leading contemporary figures in virtue ethics.

What, if anything, can psychics tell us about all of this? Demand for their services has illuminated another kind of health crisis. (New York Times) They can’t tell us anything, except that people who feel their life is out of control often resort to pseudoscience and superstition. But we knew that already.

Sex is not an act. Why you can’t separate what goes on between the sheets with what happens before and after. (Medium)

How religion shaped modern economics. In the 18th century, a new Protestant belief that people have control over their destinies fostered the rise of free-market ideas. (Wall Street Journal) Far too upbeat for my taste, but some good points.

Suggested readings, #94

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

Dostoevsky warned of the strain of nihilism that infects Donald Trump and his movement. (The Conversation)

Caligula’s garden of delights, unearthed and restored. Relics from the favorite hideaway of ancient Rome’s most infamous tyrant have been recovered and put on display by archaeologists. (New York Times)

Why we need climate stoicism to overcome climate despair. (Phys.org)

The paradox of inclusive language. When using inclusive words is a marker of wokeness, does it becomes a means of excluding the un-woke? (Medium)

Playing to lose: transhumanism, autonomy, and liberal democracy. (OUP Blog) Not only is transhumanism incoherent, it is dangerous.

Suggested readings, #93

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

Stoicism, cold and warm streams. (Medium)

Why your body sometimes jerks as you fall asleep. A closer look at hypnic jerks. (Medium)

The Dunning-Kruger effect may be a statistical illusion. Research finds the effect is statistically due to other psychological factors. (Psychology Today) There may go yet another major result from psychological research that turns out not to stand up to scrutiny. Remember that, the next time you rush to endorse the latest hot paper in psychology.

The irrationality of transhumanists. The unreasonable flaws in the movement’s big claims. (IAI News)

Our improbable existence is no evidence for a multiverse. Experts in probability have spotted a logical flaw in theorists’ reasoning. (Scientific American) Improbably, I completely agree with Philip Goff on this one. But I find it ironic that he, rightly, chastises supporters of the multiverse for the utter lack of empirical evidence, and yet is entirely blind to the very same problem concerning his own pet theory, panpsychism. The fact that I repeatedly pointed this out to him didn’t seem to have any effect.

Suggested readings, #92

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

Testing positivism. “The Murder of Professor Schlick” brilliantly illuminates an ambitious movement in philosophy. (Standpoint Magazine)

Best time to reopen? Economists are just guessing. Their mathematical skills are formidable, but toss out the dicey assumptions and things get squishy. (Bloomberg)

Philosophy: a history of failure? (3 Quarks Daily) Yet another attempt to show that philosophy has failed. Repeatedly. For a different view, see here.

Why I changed my mind about organics. And why you probably should too. (Medium)

What people actually say before they die. Insights into the little-studied realm of last words. (Atlantic) Scientifically a bit questionable, but interesting food for thought.

The problem of now. The injunction to immerse yourself in the present might be psychologically potent, but is it metaphysically meaningful? (Aeon) A good example of a philosopher who engages in good quality logic chopping, thereby missing the forest for the trees.

Suggested readings, #91

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

The great essay-writing machine. Some questions I ask myself to get stuff written. (Medium)

Sartre’s waiter revisited. Why playing your part does not mean sacrificing your individuality. (Medium)

Tragic life endings and Covid-19 policy. Why last days matter more. (Philosophers’ Magazine) Not sure I buy the author’s argument, but it does make for thought provoking reading.

Here lies the skull of Pliny the Elder, maybe. The Roman admiral and scholar died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Might this really be his cranium? (New York Times)

The warped morality of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’. (Forbes) I haven’t seen the movie, but the author makes an interesting case.

Suggested readings, #90

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

Why haven’t we lost our taste for clickbait? (Medium)

Rudy Giuliani was never really ‘America’s Mayor.’ (Gotham Gazette)

Stoicism versus Jordan Peterson. On the Stoic philosophy of anger. (Medium)

If everyone has a right to be heard, why are some told to keep quiet? (Medium)

To the brain, reading computer code is not the same as reading language. Neuroscientists find that interpreting code activates a general-purpose brain network, but not language-processing centers. (MIT News)

Suggested readings, #89

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

Why you make so many wrong decisions. And why it doesn’t matter. (Medium)

When does a human embryo have the moral status of a person? (Psyche / Aeon)

How foods may affect our sleep. A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices. (New York Times)

The Beet Paradox. Why the Australians’ peculiar love of beetroot is more than just a cultural curiosity, and puts into question basic assumptions in classical economics. (Medium)

On the moral obligation to stop shit-stirring. (Psyche / Aeon)