The toxic rage over the abortion debate, where opponents are merely shouting their criticisms and assuming evil intentions without actually listening to each other, reveals a deeper social problem: A contempt for debate itself. And a contempt for debate is ultimately a recipe for the erosion of democracy. Debate is the price of our form of government. If you're not willing to pay it, then don't be surprised when you lose it.
Last month Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote a sobering investigative report about the dark side of the porn industry. His work inspired some concrete reforms designed to protect victims of crippling shame and sexual abuse. But are these reforms enough as long as porn continues on? Is the widespread availability of porn, now so easy to access via smartphones and the internet, a "stealth public health crisis" as one feminist scholar argues? If so, what other steps can be taken to address it?
What is courage, and how do we get more of it to face the difficult days ahead? Insights from sci-fi, art, and social activism.
The saying "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" suggests that suffering automatically produces strength. It does not.
I'm walking through a trial that has led me to study what different thinkers say about suffering.
I'm stepping away from the blog for a while.
A blog post at Nautilus argues that we need a whole new class of experts who study the science of stupidity. But don't such people already exist?
My writing colleagues and I recently presented on our favorite help systems from companies like Lego, Spotify, Google, and WordPress. Here are some things we found, and some implications for writers of help content.
Arbortext Editor is a software program that lets you do "structured writing"---a special kind of writing in which every piece of content you compose follows one or more predefined rules. In theory this helps writers to develop consistent, high-quality content. The problem is that the tool has a lot of serious shortcomings. Here's my wishlist of things to improve.
We all have stories of stupid things we have thought before, and in our current climate of political division and echo chambers, we all know people (friends, relatives, acquaintances, total strangers) whose opinions we find particularly dumb. Why is that? Why do we seem to have so much bad thinking in our lives and society at large when we have access to more knowledge and education than ever before? That is one of the central questions Alan Jacobs sets out to answer in his book, 'How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds.'