August 2019

Should We Abandon the Canon?

Should we still be venerating works by Plato, Shakespeare, Woolf, and company as “great books”? Should we still be reading them at all? Or should we simply abandon the "Western canon"? These are the questions we're asking in this week's show.

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How Do Decisions Ever Get Made?

Sometimes you will be faced with choices that are hard because of the great number of options there are, the difficulty of comparing them, or limitations on your information. They’re extra painful when stakes are high. It’s pretty amazing that such difficult decisions get made at all.

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#FrancisOnFilm: Once Upon a Time...

Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, retells the story of the murders committed by members of the Manson “family.” In the film, one of the cult killers says to her victims: “You taught me to kill. Shouldn’t I kill you?” This question is pointedly directed to members of the audience too.

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A Puzzle About Sacred Values

Classic theories of choice posit that our preferences are transitive. So, for example, if you prefer the apple to the orange and the orange to the banana, then you’ll also prefer the apple to the banana. Now one interesting question in psychology is the extent to which human preferences are actually transitive.

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The Doomsday Doctrine

Why worry about a nuclear doomsday how? The Cold War is over. At its height we had thirty thousand warheads pointed at the Soviets, they had forty thousand pointed at us—but we’re each down to a fraction of that. A climate doomsday seems much more likely.

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Self Knowledge on Trial

Most people seem think that knowing themselves is a good idea, or at least say that that’s what they think. “Know thyself,” is uttered reverently—as though it’s self-evidently a wonderful goal. I’m going to put self-knowledge on trial, and I’ll say up front that the case for the defence looks pretty thin.

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