"The negation of a [scientific] theory is not a new theory."By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/23 17:00
Here is an essay by Brett Hall about what the philosophy of science is and what it tries to achieve. It makes several claims that I think would be great starting points for building any future syllabus for science education. Chief among them is the idea that science's mission "is not to 'support' theories with evidence.... The truth is that science is about correcting errors in our explanations." (Emphasis by the original author.)
On media both social and antisocial.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/23 08:00
Steven Savage just posted about experimenting with using Facebook and Twitter less. I think it's a laudable experiment, and it seems he encountered several of the big takeaways I've been clear about for a couple of years now: that depending on these things is a bad idea (not least of all because you don't and can't own them), and that they can become self-perpetuating, self-justifying timesinks.
I was going to say something about Jordan Peterson, but this article beat me to it.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/21 08:00
I was going to say something about Jordan Peterson being a bonkwitted gasbag, but this article beat me to it. I checked off so many boxes on my Intellectual Crank Bingo card, I had to go print up another one. In the words of the article that linked me to it originally, "Nickelback jokes were tired anyway, so here’s your go-to if you need a stock joke about bad Canadian exports."
Peterson is popular partly because he criticizes social justice activists in a way many people find satisfying, and some of those criticisms have merit. He is popular partly because he offers adrift young men a sense of heroic purpose, and offers angry young men rationalizations for their hatreds. And he is popular partly because academia and the left have failed spectacularly at helping make the world intelligible to ordinary people, and giving them a clear and compelling political vision.
... If Jordan Peterson is the most influential intellectual in the Western world, the Western world has lost its damn mind. And since Jordan Peterson does indeed have a good claim to being the most influential intellectual in the Western world, we need to think seriously about what has gone wrong. What have we done to end up with this man? His success is our failure, and while it’s easy to scoff at him, it’s more important to inquire into how we got to this point. He is a symptom. He shows a culture bereft of ideas, a politics without inspiration or principle. Jordan Peterson may not be the intellectual we want. But he is probably the intellectual we deserve.
Emphasis mine. I'm reminded of another major public, political figure of recent renown about whom the same thing could be said, and for many of the same reasons.
Addendum: Another good article on Peterson. Peterson's enlightened and intellectual response to it was to hop on Twitter and verbally abuse the author with a choice array of four-letter words.
On how Zen and Buddhism are not anti-intellectual, but non-intellectual. Big diff there.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/20 17:00
Before I started practicing Zen seriously, I read approximately five-and-a-half metric butt-tons of books on Buddhism generally and Zen specifically. The book that kicked off my practice in earnest was Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen, which confronted me in language I couldn't help but pay attention to that the only thing that mattered was one's own practice. Since then, I've read other books on Zen of one kind or another, and apart from Brad's other books, the one that had the most impact was a book that for many people in the West — for instance, John Cage — served as an introduction to Zen generally: John Blofeld's translation of The Zen Teachings Of Huang Po.
Why this business of personal heroes may well be a bad idea.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/18 08:00
Someone I know in another venue posted in disgust about how he can no longer call Terry Gilliam a personal hero, because of the contortions Gilliam put himself through in defense of Harvey Weinstein. (It's something along the lines of how artists always have to be envelope-pushers; it's every bit as dumb as it sounds.) Who to call a hero in this embattled age?
I'm going to make a radical suggestion, one that I don't expect anyone to follow, but here goes: don't have "heroes".
Take your story. Rip it up and start again. What's left?By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/14 08:00
This is one of my favorite stories.
In mid-1865, Fyodor Dostoevsky was preparing to work on a novella he had tentatively titled The Drunkards, about the way alcoholism destroyed families. Then he happened across the case of the self-styled criminal intellectual Pierre François Lacenaire, and the center of the work shifted — seismically so, you might say — to this new character. What emerged was nothing less than Crime And Punishment.
How different a standard should we have for works aimed at younger audiences vs. those aimed at "all" audiences?By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/03/13 17:00
Last weekend I saw the 2018 movie adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time with my wife and her mother. We all liked the film, although I'm pretty strongly of the opinion that it is aimed at, and will be best received by, younger viewers. Adults may well find it too hokey and illogical, but then again the original book was criticized on exactly those grounds as well. Which got me thinking: how different a standard should we have for works aimed at younger audiences vs. those aimed at "all" audiences?
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind