Blog 103. Are we terrorizing ourselves?

There’s a social science of terrorism.  Science News magazine* devoted a special article to the research of anthropologist Scott Atran** of the University of Michigan.  Atran has been on the battlefields of ISIS, Continue reading

Blog 99. Why can’t I make a difference?

As best I can tell, satisfaction comes from accomplishing something we regard as useful and meaningful.  That seems to be true, whether you are a scientist, entrepreneur, gardener, or Mafia hit man.  Most of us want to make a difference.  We want to believe we’ve altered something for what we regard as the better.  To assert our importance, we erect large monuments in graveyards Continue reading

Blog 95. Gentrification by Zen?

The term “Zen” suggests a process that is easy, masterful, and calming—something most of us are eager to experience. (1)  And “gentrification” sounds like a gentle transformation of a pig sty into a pastoral abode.  However, urban “gentrification” means conversion of decaying inner city housing into a “higher and best use,” Continue reading

Blog 91. Can just anyone open a scientist’s email?

The 1/10/2016 New York Times (1/9/2016 web edition) offered an op-ed entitled, “Scientists, Give Up Your Emails.”  The author, a journalist named Paul Thacker, asserted that agencies (including universities) should not keep secret the personal communications of scientists who work for the government.  Continue reading

Blog 88. Will nations ever come together?

The question looms like a cloud over United Nations negotiations in Paris this month—the 21st such attempt to forge an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  A big reason for failing to find common ground is American intransigence on the role of government.”  Continue reading

Blog 86. A message from Kathmandu

The story below is an email from an American anthropology professor who is doing aid work in Nepal.  It illustrates what happens when critical reasoning isn’t applied in social or governmental services.  For those of us who thought of Nepal as an impoverished but bucolic place populated by kind, reverent people, this report is a new view.  Might the developing disparity of wealth and power in the U.S. eventually bring a similar social situation here? Continue reading