If life is better than ever before, why does the world seem so depressing? Have we just lived through one of the best years in human history? As we look at 2023 through the rearview mirror, I think that’s a defensible claim. In fact, the same thing could have been said at the end of pretty much every year since the beginning of the… Lees verder »The Seven Laws of Pessimism
Imagine you could choose a moment to be born, and you were offered three options: a century ago, half a century ago, or right now. Let’s assume that, behind your veil of ignorance, you don’t know in advance where on earth you’ll end up. Which era would you choose? Of course the thought experiment is not entirely fair, because we… Lees verder »Today is the best moment to be born (despite climate change)
If there were a Nobel Prize in biology, Marc Van Montagu would certainly have won it. Almost half a century ago, the Belgian molecular biologist pioneered the use of GMO technology or genetic modification. Together with his colleague Jeff Schell at the University of Ghent, Van Montagu discovered that the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which was known to produce tumor growth in plants, has the ability to… Lees verder »How GMOs can eliminate world hunger (A conversation with Marc Van Montagu)
“Why don’t you mention the problem of overpopulation?” Whenever I give a talk about climate change and what to do about it, or about human progress during the past two centuries (or about any other topic, really), this is the one question that never fails to be asked during the Q&A. It is almost always meant to be a rhetorical one.… Lees verder »Forget About Overpopulation, Soon There Will Be Too Few Humans
I’m probably the very last person on the internet to set up their own Substack, but finally, here I am! Why now? Because I’m excited to be part of the first cohort of the Roots of Progress writing program, together with 19 other writers, intellectuals and entrepreneurs. Roots of Progress is a new nonprofit organization, founded by my fellow philosopher Jason Crawford… Lees verder »I have a Substack!
Is believing in “conspiracy theories” irrational? Well, it depends! If by that term you merely mean “any hypothesis or explanation of an event involving a secret plot”, then obviously it isn’t. History books are full of real conspiracies: the Watergate break-in, the Iran-Contra affair, the murder of Julius Caesar, the Moscow show trials, and just about any terrorist attack or… Lees verder »Is there anything wrong with “conspiracy theories”?
Here’s a marathon interview I did last week with two Indian philosophy enthusiasts on the nature of scientific knowledge, the reliability of our cognitive faculties, the limits of science, the question of scientism, the evolution of reason and adaptive misbeliefs, whether we should trust gut feelings and intuitions, the misguided principle of “methodological naturalism” in science, whether we are living… Lees verder »In defense of scientism. Discussion on Reductio Malayalam podcast.
“This book couldn’t wait, it was too urgent and necessary,” the American-German philosopher Susan Neiman tells me in her hotel in Ghent. She is doing a tour across Europe to launch her latest book Left is Not Woke. Neiman was born and raised in Atlanta, but has spent most of her adult life in Germany, where she’s the Director of the Einstein… Lees verder »Left is Not Woke: An Interview with Susan Neiman
Here’s a podcast interview I did for the French chapter of RePlanet, the new environmental NGO that wants to liberate nature by using science, technology and human ingenuity (which unfortunately are being pooh-poohed by many traditional environmentalists). It’s a wide-ranging conversation, tackling my research on pseudoscience and irrationality, the confluence of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ factors in explaining science denialism, the… Lees verder »Guest appearance on podcast ‘Science & Société’
In response to global warming, countries all over the world have been devising plans for a transition to clean energy sources. But how much of this clean energy will we need in, say, 2050? Much hinges on getting this question right. What infrastructure should we build to generate the desired amount of energy? How much transmission and storage capacity should… Lees verder »In Defence of a High-Energy Future