I'm becoming a moralistic prig in my dotage. Someone dear to me just proudly told me that her son, a freshly minted Harvard grad, is training to be an investment banker.
If responses to my last post are any guide—including a diss from one of my own students!—many readers reject gun controls as a way to reduce shootings like the recent massacre in Arizona and other gun-related homicides.
It's happened again. A deranged American male has gone on a rampage with a semiautomatic weapon, shooting down a score of people—this time at a political gathering in Tucson, Ariz.
Should a scientist who believes in extrasensory perception—the ability to read minds, intuit the future and so on—be taken seriously? This question comes to mind when I ponder the iconoclastic physicist Freeman Dyson, whom the journalist Kenneth Brower recently profiled in The Atlantic 's December issue.
Has civilization been a big mistake? My friend and former neighbor Kirkpatrick Sale thinks so. Sale is a smart, feisty critic of modernity, and especially technology and big government.
In the wee hours of this morning my eyes popped open, and I spent the next half hour trying to figure out what to write about in this column. After careful, albeit groggy deliberation, I decided to go with free will, both because of the tie-in to New Year's resolutions and because some high-profile scientists have been questioning whether free will exists.
Two recent science stories, one in anthropology and the other in physics, have me wondering which field is "hard" and which "soft." The first story involves the decision of the American Anthropological Association to delete the word "science" from its mission statement.
As an old hippy I still get a kick out of anarchy, mayhem and challenges to authority. As a father, teacher, journalist and all-around pillar of the community, however, I've come to see the upside of the status quo more than I did in my carefree youth.
My last post talked about the depressing lack of progress in treatments for depression and other common psychological disorders. Talking cures and antidepressants alike are subject to the "dodo effect," which decrees that all therapies are roughly as effective—or ineffective—as one another.
When the media report on a new diet that supposedly helps people lose weight once and for all, I wonder, "Does anyone still believe these claims, given the dismal track record of diets?" I have the same reaction to new treatments for psychological disorders, such as "cybertherapy." In a long, lavishly illustrated article in The New York Times , Benedict Carey reported that psychotherapists are harnessing virtual reality for treating social anxiety disorder, alcoholism, agoraphobia, gambling addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of other mental ailments.
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