What will the next major world event be? It’s difficult to make predictions, as the physicist Niels Bohr once said, especially about the future. But one thing can be prophesied with near certainty: whatever will happen, the event in question will spawn a range of conspiracy theories. The official version of events, whatever it turns out to be, will be… Lees verder »Why We Should Be Suspicious of Conspiracy Theories
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’
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!)
If we want to save the climate, we have to stop eating meat and fly less, right? Well, that will help, but only a little. There are other things we can do that will have much more impact. By Maarten Boudry and Thomas Rotthier ‘But what can we as individuals do for the climate?’ is one of the most frequently… Lees verder »What you can do for the climate to make a real difference
Have environmentalists become a bigger threat to effective climate policy than deniers? Yes, I know it sounds outrageous, but hear me out, on Australian radio ABC (at 31 minutes), talking about my latest Quillette piece.
‘Disaster threatens the world’ was the headline on the front page of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on August 31, 1971. The opening sentence was grim: “If the world carries on as we are doing now, there will be a huge catastrophe within a few decades.” The article was a worldwide scoop, based on a draft version of a report… Lees verder »Growth is not the problem, but the solution
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
(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?
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
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