Content Roundup — Scratching your brain’s curiosity itch: Week of 05/12/17

Here is a sampling of the best content I consumed this past week. Enjoy!



To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism — Evgeny Morozov


My Favorite from Nautilus Magazine— The Kekulé Problem by Cormac McCarthy

“Of the known characteristics of the unconscious its persistence is among the most notable. Everyone is familiar with repetitive dreams. Here the unconscious may well be imagined to have more than one voice: He’s not getting it, is he? No. He’s pretty thick. What do you want to do? I dont know. Do you want to try using his mother? His mother is dead. What difference does that make? What is at work here? And how does the unconscious know we’re not getting it? What doesnt it know? It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the unconscious is laboring under a moral compulsion to educate us. (Moral compulsion? Is he serious?)

Honorable mentions

“So what do we do? What worked last time: loud, bold and relentless grassroots action. In 2015, nearly four million people urged the FCC to protect the health of the Internet. We sent letters and voicemails, tweets and memes. And it worked.
Now — in the 10 days leading up to the May 18 vote — it’s time to make even more noise.”
“For all the breathless tail-chasing speculation about the national media’s bubble-fed coastal liberal Weltanschauung, the truth of the matter is that our press is far less I.F. Stone than Derek Zoolander: It is congenitally incapable of making a left turnHere’s a thought: It’s not our reporters, but our media managers and executives, who spend their waking lives confined within an impermeable ideological bubble. To these shrinking violets, there’s always — and indeed only — room to program right-leaning opinion, pseudo-reportage, and talking points.”
“All in all, it’s remarkable how many basic facts this letter gets wrong about Tuvel’s paper. Either the authors simply lied about the article’s contents, or they didn’t read it at all. Every single one of the hundreds of signatories on the open letter now has their name on a document that severely (and arguably maliciously) mischaracterizes the work of one of their colleagues. This is not the sort of thing that usually happens in academia — it’s a really strange, disturbing instance of mass groupthink, perhaps fueled by the dynamics of online shaming and piling-on.”
“Russell cautions that this shift from what he calls “love-knowledge” to “power-knowledge” is the single greatest hazard in the future of science, which is implicitly inseparable from the future of humanity. To protect science from such a shift, he suggests, is not only our duty but our only means of protecting us from ourselves.”
“Blaming any one technology for fake news is a bit too easy. In reality, news has never been settled or stable. The process by which people such as McLuhan tried to place the past into a neat progression according to types of media is similar to the process that generates news itself: both are attempts to organise time to locate ourselves within a changing world. The current panic about false news, then, does not tell us much about the role of social media in sharing information. It reveals, instead, that we feel like change is accelerating unpredictably and that we are looking for ways to make sense of it.”
The short answer is that scientists aren’t sure. But there are many theories…Hof seems to be able to consciously control his autonomic nervous system — functions of the body that are supposed to be completely involuntary, such as heart rate and body heat regulation — and, as a result, can influence his core temperature regardless of his surroundings. He says the combination of deep breathing, mental concentration, and cold helps him increase his metabolic rate, which a 2010 study found did indeed jump… by a whopping 300%.”
“We’ve got a big broken area of policy that’s tied to technology and also to old management structures that just don’t work. In a circumstance like this, there are two options for someone like me, a mathematician who became a computer scientist and an engineer. You can either retreat into a technical ghetto and say, “We will concentrate on developing better tools for X, Y, and Z,” or you can engage with the broader policy debate and start saying, “let’s collect the evidence and show what’s being done wrong so we can figure out ways of fixing it.””
“This cannot be the price we ask people to pay for a seat at the policy table. The moral calculus at the heart of the US model of development is broken. It has been broken for some time, which is what makes Kendzior’s writing so truly important because it documents where the problem lies, by somebody who lives there…Read her. It is important.”
“In addition to shaking up the family tree and the biogeography of human evolution, Berger and his team are taking on enduring ideas about the behavior and cognitive abilities of seemingly primitive human species.”
“So thinking about grandstanding is a cause for self-reflection, not a call to arms. An argument against grandstanding shouldn’t be used as a cudgel to attack people who say things we dislike. Rather, it’s an encouragement to reassess why and how we speak to one another about moral and political issues. Are we doing good with our moral talk? Or are we trying to convince others that we are good?”

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