Beyond Intractability in Context Blog

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Posts ordered from most recent to earliest.

  • A review of Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It by Richard V. Reeve -- Rebalancing the Gender Narrative --
  • Encouraging news that, despite our many problems and worries, we are continuing to fulfill the American dream of intergenerational upward mobility. -- Upward Mobility Is Alive and Well in America --
  • Amid all the heated rhetoric about the virtues and vices of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, a rare chance (thanks to a FOIA request) to actually see the materials being used in these programs. -- The U.S. Government’s Woke Training --
  • A look at the dangers of a political system that focuses so much of its attention on its angriest citizens -- those that are convinced that the other side's views are wholly illegitimate. -- Activism and Apathy Are Poisoning American Politics --
  • A critical look at critical thinking programs along with ideas about what critical thinking should be and how we can really cultivate it. -- Critical Thinking, Reverential Thinking, and Lashing Out --
  • A welcome critique of the overused claim that "history is on our side." History is not inevitable, it's what we make of it and, besides, there is no absolutely and universally right set of beliefs. -- There Is No Right Side of History --
  • From Jonathan Rauch, thought-provoking reflections on how his view of the complex system that is modern democracy has evolved. -- From Spontaneous Order to Ordered Spontaneity --
  • A critical look at the world of academic publishing that tries to understand why it is generating so few of the bright ideas that we need to meet today's big challenges. -- The Consolidation-Disruption Index Is Alarming --
  • A welcome report about a conference focused on helping universities refocus on their core mission – the promotion of the "critical inquiry and scholarly debate that produces true knowledge." -- A Report From the Stanford Academic Freedom Conference --
  • An essay from the author of "The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy" that explores ways of reaching those who are turning away from democracy. -- The Uncomfortable Truths That Could Yet Defeat Fascism --
  • Reflections on what could easily become a highly disruptive new technology. We need to figure out how to use AI to help us solve problems while also preserving rewarding employment opportunities. -- How ChatGPT Will Destabilize White-Collar Work --
  • For those trying to understand what Martin Luther King would have to say about our troubled times, an essay emphasizing his beliefs about the importance of personal reflection. -- Martin Luther King Would Choose Reflection Over ‘Intersectionality’ --
  • An update on a major effort to understand the factors that contribute to our most complex, important, and elusive social objective -- human happiness. -- What the Longest Study on Human Happiness Found Is the Key to a Good Life --
  • More insight into the incredible complexities of human psychology. This one looks at the nature of our internal conflicts and what happens when we can't decide what to believe and what to do. -- Mixed Feelings Can Be Worse Than Bad Ones --
  • One of the most encouraging and uplifting essays I've read in a long time. It asks us to put aside our worst-case cognitive biases and look at the bigger picture -- one that is far more positive. -- America Is on the Right Track --
  • A perceptive look at what is arguably a more important political divide -- one that separates those who are absolutely convinced that their side is in the right and those who see value in reconciling competing perspectives and insights. -- America’s True Divide: Pluralists vs. Zealots --
  • An analysis of the many ways in which the structure of US primary elections is intensifying divisions and undermining democratic institutions despite being superficially more democratic. And, some proposed remedies. -- The Problem with Primaries --
  • Even stronger reason to really do something about the continuing and rapid increases in the cost of higher education -- it is solidifying the class divide by locking ever more students out of the chance to develop their talents. -- Why Some Students Are Skipping College --
  • A thought-provoking exploration of the nature of "authority," what determines whether it is trusted and trustworthy, and what happens to society's ability to work together for the common good when it collapses. -- In Search of Authority --
  • The continuing horror and destruction in Ukraine is just the latest reminder of why developing and pursuing realistic strategies for avoiding war ought to be near the top of our priority list. As we think about this, here are some ideas to consider. -- Lessons for the Next War --
  • An in-depth look at the role that rational thought plays in human society, how it has made us so successful, and the many dynamics that are undermining our ability to think (and deal with conflict) in rational ways . -- Reason To Believe -- How and why irrationality takes hold, and what do to about it. --
  • A friendly critique of the Forward Party and its efforts to offer voters a moderate alternative to the "us-vs-them" politics that dominates the two major parties with lots of ideas about what it takes to be successful. -- Launching a Third Party Takes More Than Good Intentions --
  • A lighter and very illuminating inquiry into the many ways in which our society discriminates against left-handers (with important lessons about what we should and shouldn't be doing to help all disadvantaged groups). -- Fables of the Deconstruction --
  • An honest and affectionate look at what makes US society and its democratic institutions something to celebrate and nurture despite their deep flaws -- flaws that are deeply intertwined with its virtues. -- A Love Letter to America --
  • Amid the many reasonable and exaggerated worries about ChatGPT and the dangers that it may or may not pose to society, a challenging and illuminating, explanation of what, exactly, it does and how it works. -- How ChatGPT actually works --