Although most of us would agree that both bullshit and the outright lie are modes of misrepresentation, there exists a key difference between the two. Neither the bullshitter nor the liar can be relied upon to tell the truth. But in order to lie, the liar must first believe that she knows the truth; only then can she persuade her audience of what she knows to be untrue. The bullshitter, on the other hand, maintains no relationship at all with the truth: it is irrelevant to the bullshitter whether what she says is true or false, and what she is guilty of misrepresenting is precisely her concern for the distinction between the two.
After they finished lying to her, researcher Danielle Polage asked the students to again rate their certainty that each of these events had or had not happened. Fascinatingly (and a little creepily), subjects showed a statistically significant change in their beliefs, indicating that they became less sure that untrue events hadn’t happened to them after saying that they had. Conversely, when subjects were later asked to deny events that had happened to them, they became less sure that those events did take place.
“We allow our great cultural institutions to fall into disrepair and disrepute because, as we strip them of their reverential traditions and their arduous canon, we also strip them of our reasons to cherish them. We call them before the tribunal of public opinion to justify their very existence, as if we can no longer see through the smog to the heights of Parnassus, lonelier than ever because we have forgotten that it is even there. We attempt to chain the Muses to the machinery of our modern malaise, as if we do not remember that they exist to show us the way to transcend that malaise, to find our way home again, by way of that steep and difficult climb, to the bosom of art and learning.”
Even Herodotus never considered how to integrate the historic timelines of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Persians. The problem was the lack of any fixed common calendar, any agreed-upon way of determining which year was which and what happened when, since each civilization had its own notional Year One. Then, because he got tired of having to consult many different books, the ruler of a kingdom on the Caspian Sea asked a Persian scholar to develop a timeline that could cover all peoples and their histories. (It was only happenstance that this happened in a year that carried a big round number in the European calendar.)
Over the past century we’ve vastly increased the time and money invested in science, but in scientists’ own judgement we’re producing the most important breakthroughs at a near-constant rate. On a per-dollar or per-person basis, this suggests that science is becoming far less efficient.
The ubiquitous use of ‘intellectual property’ began in the digital era of production, reproduction and distribution of cultural and technical artifacts. As a new political economy appeared, so did a new commercial and legal rhetoric. ‘Intellectual property’, a central term in that new discourse, is a culturally damaging and easily weaponised notion. Its use should be resisted.
As we attempt to grapple with this bleak post-human future, we must also confront the question of what humans can hope to understand. Parts of the physical world are understood. They can be observed and described by theories—but much of it cannot. Human observation bumps up against stark limits. Human reasoning is not limitless either, but it does allow us to think through what might in principle be “over the horizon.”
If the most polarized population uses the Internet and social media the least, to suddenly point a finger at technology says more about our anxieties about the rate of technological change than about what has actually happened to us. The fact is that this twenty-two-year-old dynamic of polarization can’t easily be associated with the Internet.
That transformation, from facts to numbers to data, traces something else: the shifting prestige placed on different ways of knowing. Facts come from the realm of the humanities, numbers represent the social sciences, and data the natural sciences. When people talk about the decline of the humanities, they are actually talking about the rise and fall of the fact, as well as other factors. When people try to re-establish the prestige of the humanities with the digital humanities and large data sets, that is no longer the humanities. What humanists do comes from a different epistemological scale of a unit of knowledge.
Respect for children means respect for the adults that they will one day become; it means helping them to the knowledge, skills, and social graces that they will need if they are to be respected in that wider world where they will be on their own and no longer protected. For the teacher, respect for children means giving them whatever one has by way of knowledge, teaching them to distinguish real knowledge from mere opinion, and introducing them to the subjects that make the mind adaptable to the unforeseen. To dismiss Latin and Greek, for example, because they are not “relevant” is to imagine that one learns another language in order, as Matthew Arnold put it, “to fight the battles of life with the waiters in foreign hotels.”
With its heavy focus on artificially intelligent curation, Google Photos suggests the dawning of a new age of personalized robot historian. The trillions of images we are all snapping will become the raw material for algorithms that will curate memories and construct narratives about our most intimate human experiences. In the future, the robots will know everything about us — and they will tell our stories.
He believes we must go beyond neuroscience and into the mysterious world of quantum mechanics to explain our rich mental life. No one quite knows what to make of this theory, developed with the American anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, but conventional wisdom goes something like this: Their theory is almost certainly wrong, but since Penrose is so brilliant (“One of the very few people I’ve met in my life who, without reservation, I call a genius,” physicist Lee Smolin has said), we’d be foolish to dismiss their theory out of hand.
Over the past year, the IDW has arisen as a puzzling political force, made up of thinkers who support “Enlightenment values” and accuse the left of setting dangerously illiberal limits on acceptable thought. The IDW has defined itself mainly by diving into third-rail topics like the genetics of gender and racial difference—territory that seems even more fraught in the era of #MeToo and the Trump resistance.
Right now, ContentID only filters videos’ soundtracks. Article 13 would expand the filter to consider text, music, video, still photos, software code, game mods, 3D printing files, and anything else that might be copyrighted. ContentID currently allows only a small set of trusted rightsholders to add to its blacklist; Article 13 would let all 2,000,000,000+ internet users add to these blacklists. ContentID reserves the right to cancel a rightsholder’s access to its blacklists for abusing the system — falsely claiming copyright through carelessness or malice, for example — while Article 13 would require perpetual access for rightsholders, even anonymous parties claiming to be rightsholders. Article 13 would give them the power to block anything and everything from being posted to the Internet.
Bullshitters pretend to a kind of wisdom that only very few people have, but that also means that only very few people are competent to challenge the bullshitters’ pretension. And here’s the rub: if bullshit clings to any undertaking that requires an unusual degree of discernment or expertise, then calling bullshit can itself become a form of bullshitting.
Folk music and pastoral poetry are both fantasy – there’s nothing of the actual folk or the actual pastoral about them. It might be time for “post-folk” thinking, composing, and writing.
There’s still that optimism. But the optimism is tempered by a sense of deliberation. Things have changed quite a bit. You know, we deliberate about things a lot more, and we are more thoughtful about what we do. But there’s a deeper thing here, which is: Technology doesn’t solve humanity’s problems. It was always naïve to think so. Technology is an enabler, but humanity has to deal with humanity’s problems. I think we’re both over-reliant on technology as a way to solve things and probably, at this moment, over-indexing on technology as a source of all problems, too.
The idea that racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted views automatically disqualify a historical figure from admiration is misguided. Anyone who cannot bring themselves to admire such a historical figure betrays a profound lack of understanding about just how socially conditioned all our minds are, even the greatest. Because the prejudice seems so self-evidently wrong, they just cannot imagine how anyone could fail to see this without being depraved.
“Preference for realistic art is a robust predictor of support for Brexit,” writes a research team led by Noah Carl of Nuffield College, Oxford. “The effect was comparable to the difference in support between those with a degree and those with no education.”
An 1897 article in The American Electrician worried that a growing dependence on the telephone would turn us all into “transparent heaps of jelly.” But while the notion of addiction to our smartphones (the most usual suspects in the current attention crisis) is contested, numerous studies have found that compulsive phone use can lead to separation anxiety, chronic fear of missing out, and a painful thumb condition known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis—signs worrying enough that we can’t rule out the eventual jellification of humanity.
“Why did Stalin airbrush those people out of those photographs?” he asked. “Why go to the trouble? It’s because there is something very, very powerful about the visual image. If you change the image, you change history. We’re incredibly visual beings. We rely on vision—and, historically, it’s been very reliable. And so photos and videos still have this incredible resonance. How much longer will that be true?”
Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy both proudly and explicitly connected themselves with the ancient Romans and borrowed many of their symbols — the very name “Fascist” refers to an important Roman status marker, and the Nazi Imperial Eagle is derived from the Roman standard. Himmler’s reading of antiquity, on that train in 1924, was extreme, but it was also the natural extension of the discipline’s origins; earlier classicists had simply been more genteel, or perhaps less proactive, in their application of white supremacy to antiquity.
Social media platforms — and Facebook and Twitter are as guilty of this as Gab is — are designed so that the awful travels twice as fast as the good. And they are operating with sloppy disregard of the consequences of that awful speech, leading to disasters that they then have to clean up after.
Curating a town as one might an art collection — or in latter days, a party or store — is not a lonely pursuit. Wealthy individuals like Mr. Resnick, well-funded nonprofits and even corporations like Walmart have begun buying deserted American main streets, hoping to reinvent them with a fresh aesthetic.
There’s no one way to answer that question. “Skeletons of skyscrapers have risen in city’s core, while unemployment rates have fallen. Occupy is gone from downtown, but homeless encampments have taken their place. When historians look back at Los Angeles cultural landscape in the years after the Great Recession — reflecting on the lives of cultural figures like Argote and the well-being of our city’s arts institutions — they’ll find a strange mix of obstacles and successes.”
Oh. Whoops. We’ve often been reprinting it with the accidental addition of a period after “the pursuit of happiness” because the first printer deposited one there. And … that’s not what that sentence means. One typo means most of us have been “losing sight of what the Declaration of Independence is all about.”
he gig economy has not only turned millions of Americans into contractors, but it’s given the more successful entrepreneurs the tools to grow even faster. A fast-moving startup can secure talent as it needs it, outsource more quotidian tasks like payroll, and stay lean and mean; indeed, I see entrepreneurs employ this approach through my work at EY supporting creative, successful startups. But there are lots of myths about gig work, whether full-time or part time.
“What’s interesting,” says Samuel West, an organizational psychologist who’s the lead curator of the Disgusting Food Museum, “is that disgust is hard-wired biologically. But you still have to learn from your surroundings what [in particular] you should find disgusting.”
VR researchers tell us that simulations can let us see what it’s like to experience the day-to-day indignities of racist microaggression, of becoming homeless, or even of being an animal primed for butchering. The hope is that this technologically-enabled empathy will help us to become better, kinder, more understanding people. But we should be skeptical of these claims. While VR might help us to cultivate sympathy, it fails to generate true empathy.
In a sense, we are all royals, even if we don’t all have royal DNA in our genomes. And yet, we are obsessed with genealogies. ‘By one estimate,’ Carl Zimmer writes, ‘genealogy has now become the second most popular search topic on the internet. It is outranked only by porn.’