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My conversation with Steven Pinker about ‘Rationality’

Here’s my conversation with the psychologist Steven Pinker about his latest book ‘Rationality’ at the Night of the Freethinker (Nacht van de Vrijdenker) in Ghent. We talked about the undeserved “uncoolness” of rationality, the allure of positive illusions, the cultural wisdom of jokes, the science of cultural evolution and the concept of memes, the popularity of books portraying people as… Lees verder »My conversation with Steven Pinker about ‘Rationality’

Why Covid Did Not Spell the End of Globalisation (And a good thing too!)

Probably the most common prediction about the world during the Covid pandemic was that this was the end of the era of globalization. The world as we knew it before 2020, with its daily merry-go-round of people and goods and services, would be gone forever. While some commentators deplored this, fearing a retrograde move towards greater nationalism and protectionism, many others eagerly… Lees verder »Why Covid Did Not Spell the End of Globalisation (And a good thing too!)

Why Environmentalists Pose a Bigger Obstacle to Effective Climate Policy than Denialists

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In the recent Netflix smash hit Don’t Look Up, scientists try to warn the world about a comet hurtling towards Earth that is going to wipe out human civilization and possibly life itself. Except, no-one wants to hear the bad news: the US president is too busy with the midterm elections and wants to silence the scientific Cassandras, a psychopathic tech… Lees verder »Why Environmentalists Pose a Bigger Obstacle to Effective Climate Policy than Denialists

Do free will skeptics swallow their own medicine?

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(Book review of Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso: Just deserts. Debating free will, Cambridge: Polity, 2021, 223 pp, $15.99 PB. A slightly shortened version was published in Metascience) How can we ever hope to resolve philosophical questions with which some of our smartest thinkers have wrestled for centuries, with no agreed resolution in sight? Perhaps we should delegate… Lees verder »Do free will skeptics swallow their own medicine?

Why Relativism is the Worst Idea Ever

The philosopher Allan Bloom once lamented: ‘There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.’ Perhaps Bloom overstated his case, but as a university teacher myself, I think he’s onto something. Do people who proclaim that ‘truth is relative’ or that ‘everyone has their… Lees verder »Why Relativism is the Worst Idea Ever

Why the Genetic Fallacy is Not a Fallacy

Trivia question: which country was the first to pass a public smoking ban? Answer: Nazi Germany. Indeed, German scientists were among the first to determine a causal relationship between smoking and cancer. Adolf Hitler himself intensely disliked smoking and personally donated money to the Wissenschaftliches Institut zur Erforschung der Tabakgefahren (Scientific Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research). The term Passivrauchen (passive smoking) itself was coined… Lees verder »Why the Genetic Fallacy is Not a Fallacy

Full video of our debate: ‘Climate Change Is Real. Now What Should We Do About It?’

At long last, here’s the video of our climate debate at UGent, fully subtitled! Watch our distinguished panel of experts debate the best strategies to tackle climate change: Mark Lynas, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Opha Pauline Dube and Ted Nordhaus. Your host and moderator is Desiree Hoving. Even though there is no longer any scientific debate about the reality of man-made… Lees verder »Full video of our debate: ‘Climate Change Is Real. Now What Should We Do About It?’