Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 61

readingsHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

A brief history of living conditions: things got better over the past two centuries.

The silliness of much (but not all) “neuro-x.”

If you have to choose, you are better off pursuing meaning rather than happiness.

Leave your laptops (and phones, and tablets) at the door of my classroom.

In praise and defense of profanity, when appropriate.

Do trolley dilemmas really provide a model to understand the ’16 elections? (I doubt it).

Men don’t want jobs perceived as “feminine,” and the consequences of misplaced machismo (when is it well placed?).

The philosophy and neuroscience of decision making.

There’s a problem with a bunch of psychology textbooks. Oops.

46 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 61

  1. SocraticGadfly

    Dan, today’s right-wing profs would have probably tried to pass such a bill 50 years ago if they thought they could, being offended at the likes of C. Wright Mills, the elder Foner, etc.


  2. SocraticGadfly

    Oh, and Dan, it’s not just humanities profs; it wouldn’t surprise me that, if your bill were passed in Missouri, it were applied to natural sciences profs re climate change, etc., too.


  3. Massimo Post author

    So Dan has a point that parts of the academy have gotten more politicized in the left direction that they ought to be, thus making an easy target for some legislators who want to get rid of tenure, etc.

    But it is also true that the right wants to meddle with education, and get rid of tenure, no matter what, regardless of the availability of easy targets.

    And no, I don’t think STEM disciplines are fine. They are just more difficult to attack. But we’ve had decades of attempts at dumbing down the teaching of evolution, as well as attacks on federal funding of evolutionary biology and cosmology.

    My objection to the rather extreme politicization of some branches of the academy — and particularly to the fashionable “x studies” is that I think they are not good for the students, quite irrespectively of what a yahoo politician from whatever state may or may not “think.”

    Liked by 5 people

  4. dbholmes

    I have to agree that STEM is also open to defunding and “adjustments” of curriculum. At my old school (from what I understand) they totally scrapped a geology based department. At the very least they were trying to close it.

    Since we are talking about education I want to go back to that ultra lame “living conditions” article. They have that nice chart about levels of education, which includes a projection into the future. This seems to take as an assumption that higher degrees (or more time in school) is itself meaningful for increased quality of life.

    For their projection, is that driven by continually increasing requirements for higher degrees (without reason) by businesses in order to get jobs? How about more important stats… will there be enough jobs that utilize or actually need (as opposed to businesses simply requiring) the advanced education? Or how about cost of education? Student debt? That last one would be another hockey stick calling into question any utility increases in education grant.

    In fact one can move from that to their assessment of poverty. Well it is nice to know that “extreme poverty” is in decline. But uhmmmm… does this include debt against earnings? There are so many now living very low, even if their earnings would suggest they should be living well. Students in particular have moved from a category where holding a degree meant having a better quality of life to being a liability (financially) and so lowering quality of life even if required to obtain “better quality” work.

    It also occurred to me… did their poverty stats include or exclude prison populations.


  5. brodix

    Wars being declared and wars being won are two different issues. The fact the Democratic establishment had a total meltdown over Hillary losing and essentially ignored the economic arguments Sanders was making is an issue that will have to be reconsidered. Much of the academic issues are just foam on this building wave.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wtc48

    I have a sense of deja vue about much of this discussion. My mother was a screenwriter, and part of my growing up experience was witnessing the attempted rape of the film industry by McCarthy, along with the near-destruction of the University of California (among others) by the loyalty oath controversy. The current emergence of the underbelly of the conservative movement seems like a revival of the same drama, but with a different cast of characters, who all think they’re breaking new ground.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SocraticGadfly

    Agree, Massimo. You know I’m not an SJW. AND, as a newspaper editor, I blogged myself about that nutty communications professor from the University of Missouri.

    But, no, Dan, the sciences aren’t safe. Per the political bon mot, Reagan-era Republicans campaigned against the Great Society, but today’s Republicans campaign against the New Deal, and I’m not sure that even that fully sums up the …


    No other word for it.

    Of large swathes of the right in today’s America. Your own Congresscritter, at the federal, not the state level, is a wingnut:


  8. SocraticGadfly

    And, Dan, as far as SJW types, the neoliberal version of gender identity feminists who voted for Hillary Clinton just because she was a woman (where were you folks for McKinney 2008 or Stein 2012?) scare me more than most others.


  9. synred

    We shall see, says someone from a state where unscientific abstinence-only sex-ed is rammed down high-schoolers throats.

    And down the rest our throats too via its infection of text books.

    Liked by 1 person

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