The Problem with Distracted Parents

Your phone can seem to call to you in an especially seductive way when you are a parent on playground duty. And one reason is, let’s face it, that playground duty can get old long before your children do. At a recent pediatric meeting where we discussed the new recommendations from the American Academy of … Continued

Don’t Trust Your Friends When it Come to the News

At the moment, we are so deep in the fake-news morass that it’s hard to even envision a way out. One possibility, though, is old-school media literacy: Teach people the importance of only believing and sharing stories from high-quality news sources. After all, while people don’t trust “the media” in general, polls suggest Americans actually do trust … Continued

What Science Fiction Can Teach Us About Ethics

The work of Ursula Le Guin is famous for the way in which it deals in ethical considerations – power in gender relations, the creation of a just society, the correct use of power. Aware as she is of the necessity of achieving balance in such matters, her work rarely deals in any kind of certainty – … Continued

The Dark Side of the Gig Economy

Last September, a very twenty-first-century type of story appeared on the company blog of the ride-sharing app Lyft. “Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began. “About a week away from her due date, Mary decided to drive for … Continued

Did Aristotle Create the Computer?

The history of computers is often told as a history of objects, from the abacus to the Babbage engine up through the code-breaking machines of World War II. In fact, it is better understood as a history of ideas, mainly ideas that emerged from mathematical logic, an obscure and cult-like discipline that first developed in the … Continued

Is 90 the New 60?

Immortality: Trust us, you wouldn’t like it. It’s a comforting message, in a sour-grapes sort of way. It sounds wise and mature, suggesting that we put aside childish dreams and accept once and for all that there can be no vital Veg-O-Matic that slices mortality and dices infirmity. Gerontologists like it, being particularly eager to put on … Continued

The Importance of Creativity

Humans have incredible creative potential. Our knack for creating megacities, double-decker airplanes, cures for hundreds of diseases, symphonies, and virtual reality games, among other remarkable inventions, attests to our capacity to imagine possibilities and make them real. We identified this human potential long ago, when we named our own species “sapiens,” which means “wise.” And … Continued

Another Look at Churchill

Hillsdale College in Michigan has taken on the herculean task of editing the written raw material of the life of Winston Churchill, what are known as the companion volumes to Randolph Churchill and Sir Martin Gilbert’s official biography. These comprise every important document of any kind that concerns Churchill, and the present volume, the 19th, which … Continued

In Praise of Hierarchy

The modern West has placed a high premium on the value of equality. Equal rights are enshrined in law while old hierarchies of nobility and social class have been challenged, if not completely dismantled. Few would doubt that global society is all the better for these changes. But hierarchies have not disappeared. Society is still … Continued

Why We Love Con Men

In New York City in 1849, a man named William Thompson stole a gold watch just by asking for it. Strolling down a busy Broadway, Thompson approached a stranger with a strange question: “Have you confidence in me to trust me with your watch until tomorrow?” Eager to prove his good faith, the stranger handed … Continued