Blog Archives

Recommended Reading 30

This week’s (exceptionally long and varied) offering of intellectual enrichment includes: an argument that the likely death of economic growth is the underlying theme of the current U.S. presidential election; thoughts on the rise of a real-life dystopia of universal algorithmic automation; an account of how the founder of TED became disgusted with the direction of the iconic ideas conference and created a new one to fulfill his original vision; reflections by a prominent physicist on science, religion, the Higgs boson, and the cultural politics of scientific research; a new examination of the definition, meaning, and cultural place of “pseudoscience”; a deeply absorbing warning about the possible death of the liberal arts, enhanced by the author’s first-person account of his own undergraduate liberal arts education at the University of Chicago; thoughts on the humanizing effects of deep literary reading in an age of proliferating psychopathy; a question/warning about the possible fate of literature as a central cultural-historical force in the grip of a publishing environment convulsed by epochal changes; an interview with Eric Kandel on the convergence of art, biology, and psychology; a new report from a psychiatric research project on the demonstrable link between creativity and mental illness; a career-spanning look at the works and themes of Ray Bradbury; and a spirited (pun intended) statement of the supreme value of supernatural and metaphysical literature from Michael Dirda. Read the rest of this entry

Is America an economic hothouse for growing psychopaths?

The past year has witnessed the rise of a kind of cottage industry of speculative blogging and associated online chatter about the idea that America’s ruling economic and political institutions — which have now, let us note, collapsed together to become one and the same — are ideologically and bureaucratically structured to attract and promote psychopaths. The general idea is that if you examine the lists of personality and psychological traits that are formally used for diagnosing someone as psychopathic, you’ll find that they line up astonishingly well with the very same characteristics that are required for, and amenable to, success and upward mobility in corporate America. Read the rest of this entry