Two professors at the University of Washington, Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West, have created a website meant to accompany a potential college seminar entitled “Calling Bullshit.” Here’s how Bergstrom and West explain the premise of their course. It’s worth quoting them at length.
The world is awash in bullshit.
There have been many theories of how human history works. Some, like German thinker G.W.F. Hegel, have thought of progress as inevitable. Others have embraced a more static view, full of “Great Men” and an immutable natural order. Then we have the counter-Enlightenment thinker Giambattista Vico.[...]
Creative Commons image by Steve Parker
It can seem like a cruel irony that some of the most celebrated people of our day didn’t receive the same acclaim during their sometimes troubled lives.
It’s always satisfying to impose order on chaos, especially if it doesn’t involve bellowing at a roomful of jacked up teenagers.
Witness the experiment above.
Image by Ferdinand Schmutzer, via Wikimedia Commons
“Should we allow celebrities to discuss politics?” goes one variation on an evergreen headline and supposedly legitimate public debate. No amount of public disapproval could have stopped some of the most outspoken public figures, and we’d be the worse off for it in many cases.
Image by Benjamin Reay, via Flickr Commons
It’s a new year, which means it’s time for the Edge.org to pose its annual question to some of the world’s finest minds.
Amazing things happen every day in New York City—some spontaneous, some whose execution is carefully planned over weeks and months.[...]
Last night, during a talk on his new book Raising the Floor, longtime labor leader and current senior fellow at Columbia University Andy Stern told the story of a king and a chessmaster engaged in pitched battle. “If you win,” said the overconfident king, “you may have anything you desire.[...]
During the 17th and 18th centuries, European Enlightenment philosophers discarded the origin stories in religious texts as wildly implausible or simply allegorical. But they found themselves charged with coming up with their own, naturalistic explanations for the origins of life, law, morality, etc.[...]
Carl Sagan may have passed away almost twenty years ago, but he continues to influence minds of all generations through intellectual heirs like Neil DeGrasse Tyson (host of the remake of Sagan’s beloved 1980 TV series Cosmos) as well as through the books he wrote in his lifetime.[...]