October 2019

Real Horror

We enjoy horror flicks because we know the horror isn’t real. The monsters are all make-believe monsters. But the idea that there are real monsters was and is regarded by many people with deadly seriousness, and not just by those who are shrouded in superstition.

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Music as a Way of Knowing

When people talk about knowledge they usually mean what philosophers call “propositional knowledge”—knowledge of facts that can be articulated in language. But music can provide another kind of knowledge that cannot be expressed in language. It can provide experiential knowledge.

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The Appeal of Authoritarianism

Why do some people find authoritarian leaders so appealing? Why do they sometimes secure vast numbers of votes in democratic elections? Are humans naturally drawn to tyrants? These are some of the questions we’re asking in this week’s show.

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Should We Trust Polls?

One of the ideas I’ve seen cropping up on social media and in media punditry is that polls are untrustworthy. Such skepticism about polls seems to me to be part of a broader assault on objective, systematic research that has been on the rise since 2016.

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#FrancisOnFilm: Downton Abbey

As a Downton Abbey neophyte, I cannot comment on whether the movie satisfactorily resolves the loose ends from the series, but I can say that it reveals social tensions rather than resolving them. Class is both idealized and undermined, and outsiders are both heralded and ultimately absorbed.

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Machine Consciousness

Is AI bound to outstrip human intelligence? Should we be excited about using it to enhance the human mind? Or should we fear the rise of robot overlords? These are the kinds of questions being raised not just in science fiction but in sincere prognostications about AI.

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Why Not Change Your Core Self?

Let’s say you could snap your fingers and all your various tastes and aesthetic preferences changed overnight. You would appreciate different foods, you would like different books, you would prefer different colors and clothing styles and jokes. Would you do it? I’m guessing your answer is ‘no.’

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