Despite unequivocal scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change, many people are skeptical that climate change is man-made, or even real. For instance, lawmakers in North-Carolina passed a bill requiring local planning agencies’ to ignore the latest climate science to predict sea level rise in several coastal counties. They say that ignorance is bliss, but why would we not want to know useful information?
A recent AARP billboard reminds us that the duty to care for an aging or ill parent begins with remembering the care provided to us when we were children. How does this caregiving expectation, grounded in reciprocity, apply to the approximately 76 million Baby Boomers in the United States whose aging will dominate the next few decades?
Less than 15 years ago, it was impossible for a same-sex couple to get married, and the public was strongly opposed to the idea. But in a remarkably short period of time, public opinion shifted, as did public policy—first in Massachusetts in 2004, and in an increasing number of states over time, until the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015 which legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
Although their roles are similar, thought leaders and public intellectuals remain two distinct entities. Public intellectuals’ training gives them the authority to discuss a wide range of issues; thought leaders’ enthusiasm gives them an audience who will listen to their ideas. Public distrust in authority figures has led to a significant rise in “thought leaders”. While this change in the marketplace of ideas has increased diversity in creative thinking, it builds obstacles for the public intellectuals trying to filter out the bad from the good.
These days, one hears much about the importance of adaptiveness and resilience, faced with the “super wicked” problem of climate change that is growing by the day and is demanding not just policy orientation, but action plans on an urgent basis. Often, opinion is expressed that poorer nations must perforce work towards adaptation and dedicated research must help them in that direction.
From time immemorial, humans have yearned to know what lies ahead. Setting the context is a three-thousand-year romp through the ‘history of the future’ illustrating how our forebears tried to influence, foretell or predict it. Examples extend from the prophets and sibyls to Plato and Cicero, from the Renaissance to the European Enlightenment.
We face a host of intertwined issues of social justice today, most of which are not new but deeply embedded historically. Poverty is ubiquitous, and economic inequality has increased both nationally and globally. Children continue to bear the brunt of poverty, especially children of color. Struggles for women’s rights continue around the world in the face of persistent gender inequality, oppression, and violence.
Seymour Martin Lipset passed away eleven years ago. If he had lived, he would have celebrated his 95th birthday on 18 March. Today, his prolific scholarship remains as timely and influential as when he was an actively engaged author. Google Scholar reports 13,808 citations between 2012 and the beginning of 2017. All of Lipset’s papers have been collected at the Library of Congress and soon will be available to researchers.
Each year, the International Day of Happiness is celebrated on 20 March. First celebrated by the United Nations in 2013, this day is now celebrated by all member states of the United Nations General Assembly to recognize happiness and well-being as a “fundamental human goal.” Celebrations on this day in the past included ceremonies held by Ndaba Mandela and Chelsea Clinton, as well as the creation of the world’s first 24-hour music video with Pharrell Williams.
Engaging in status competitions is nothing new. It’s common, especially when we’re young (though adults are certainly not exempt). We compare our looks, our hairstyles, our opportunities, our friends, our successes and failures, where we’ve traveled (or haven’t), where we’ve gone to school, where we’re from, our clothes, and all sorts of material objects. The list goes on and on. We seek approval and affirmation all the time.
“Confirmation bias” is the most common—and easily the most irritating—obstacle to productive conversation, and not just between experts and laypeople. The term refers to the tendency to look for information that only confirms what we believe, to accept facts that only strengthen our preferred explanations, and to dismiss data that challenge what we already accept as truth.
In 2017, the winners of two of the four Oscars given to actors were African Americans. This represents a remarkable turn in the history of the Oscars. It is not, however, a historical accident. Instead, it is due to social media campaigns and activism. In 2015, an activist named April Reign started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in response to the overwhelmingly white Oscar nominees that year.
“Unplugging” from social media does not necessarily equate to quitting. As The Happiness Effect author Donna Freitas found out, the decision to temporarily quit social media is a common among university students. Some students quit because they feel “too obsessed” or “addicted,” while others cite online drama as their reason to take a break.
The date 9 February 2017 marks 132 years since the Viennese composer Alban Berg’s (1885-1935) birth. Despite this advanced age, Berg nonetheless maintains an active profile in social media.
Most students feel that they are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They worry about whether future employers might find an offending photo or post attached to their names. But many of them also worry about what happens if they have no social media presence at all for their future employers to scrutinize and dissect. If they are completely absent from social media, this might seem suspicious, too
Some decades ago, British film scholar Laura Mulvey showed us that movies possessed a male gaze. That is, the viewer was assumed to be a man — a straight, white one — and films were created by men to entertain men like them.We’ve made some progress. Among this year’s Academy Award nominees are eighteen African Americans, five Asian Americans, and one native-born Hispanic American.