Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday grab-bag

● I really like this interview in which atheist Roy Speckhardt says nice things about Pope Francis. It's encouraging to see the Catholic church's leader moving in directions a humanist can approve of. It’s also nice to see said humanist giving credit where credit is due, yet not turning all wishy-washy about the ultimate compatibility of religion and science or suggesting “all ways of seeking the truth are equally valid” or what-have-you. Could there be a middle path between Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould after all?

● What the heck is Izabella Kaminska on about, and is there any chance it is true? As far as I can tell the gist of her (jargon-filled and neologism-heavy) argument is that we have solved scarcity, our financial system is still organized as if we hadn’t, yet rather than rethink the financial system, we are instead desperately creating artificial scarcity by fiat. That seems crazy – the sort of thing only someone living in the recursive hall-of-mirrors world of high finance could believe – but modern economies are highly counterintuitive, and I’m a layman, so to me, at least, if she’s wrong, she’s not obviously wrong.

Video of the week: Via Slate, here's Tim Minchin’s “Storm,” a meditation on science denialism. He focuses on the hippy-dippy and po-mo varieties, but the fundamentalist version is equally maddening and, in U.S. politics, far more of a concern.

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