It includes, as always, a few philosophers and political theorists (this year: David Chalmers, John Gray, Jurgen Habermas), plus one of my personal favorites, Evgeny Morozov, who always cuts through all the self-serving bullshit about the Internet and technology.
UPDATE: Longtime reader Roger Albin, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, writes:
What Pollan describes in the New Yorker piece is not as weird as it appears. To a considerable extent, its a reflection of the considerable frustration experienced by psychiatrists with the presently limited treatments for substance abuse and refractory depression. Some useful therapies have been discovered through efforts like these. One of the most effective treatments in psychiatry, Lithium for bipolar disorder, was discovered via what can be described only as a parody of science (if you're interested, look up the concise and accurate account in the Wikipedia entry on John Cade, the psychiatrist who made the initial key observations).
And in a follow-up e-mail, he adds:
Pollan's discussion of the interesting phenomenon of the default mode network (DMN) is naive, though he may have been misled by his informants. The piece makes much of the weakening of the DMN after psychedelic ingestion but the DMN weakens in many situations, so correlations with the phenomena experienced during psychedelic use are not specific.
She put Rahm Emmanuel in his place a couple of years ago, now she's going after our new Republican Governor (I hope she's wrong with the Scott Walker comparison, but since these people all confer with each other and none are capable of actual critical thought and decision-making, I fear she may be right).
This is a very striking documentary, but be forewarned, much of the footage is ghastly beyond belief. As WWII ended, British and American troops took extensive film footage of the concentration camps--some of it even in color, making it even more shocking--and the British recruited Alfred Hitchcock to put the footage together in a documentary about Nazi crimes. Among Hitchcock's plans were to show how close "ordinary" Germans lived to the facilities of mass murder. For political reasons, the British then decided not to release the film on "German Concentration Camps": on the one hand, Britain had major responsibilities for rebuilding occupied Germany, and worried that the film would make that job more difficult, given its indictment of ordinary Germans; on the other hand, thousands of concentration camp survivors and other refugees were flooding Palestine, still under British control, where they were again being put in prison camps--the British feared that the film would generate such enormous sympathy for the Jewish victims of Nazi mass murder that Britain would be forced to hand over Palestine to the survivors. The Americans, using the director Billy Wilder, stepped in and made a shorter film called "Death Mills." "Night Will Fall" includes a lot of the footage from Hitchcock's film, as well as other footage shot by troops in 1945. I have to say some of what is shown here is more horrifying than other film I have seen of these atrocities.
UPDATE: Alas, the film seems to have been pulled since I linked to it. (Thanks to George Pappas for calling that to my attention.) If readers find it elsewhere, please send me the URL
ANOTHER: Steve Hales kindly sends along a new link to the documentary.
...but in crazy California you can get not only "religious" exemptions, but "philosophical" ones, not by having an argument, but simply by checking a box. Perhaps if Child Protective Services started taking kids away from the idiot parents who don't vaccinate them, California would cease being the measles and whooping cough capitol of America--and can polio be far behind?
UPDATE: Mark Tushnet, a law professor at Harvard, writes: "Of course I don’t understand his paper, but there’s a great line in it. After proving that the upper bound for gaps between primes exists and is less than 70,000,000, the next line is: 'This result is of course not optimal.'"
From the chapter "Of Liberty and Necessity" from the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding:
The general observations treasured up by a course of experience, give us the clue of human nature, and teach us to unravl all its intricacies. Pretexts and appearances no longer deceive us. Public declarations pass for the specious coloring of a cause. And though virtue and honor be allowed their proper weight and authority, that perfect disinterestedness, so often pretended to, is never expected in multitudes and parties; seldom in their leaders; and scaracely even in individuals of any rank or station.
A priceless observation from philosopher Alan Thomas (Tilburg), which he gave me permission to share:
I think you would have to be Balzac or Dickens to capture philosophers' current form of competitive self-assertion: the manifestation of the exquisite delicacy of one's own moral feelings. Perhaps social media invites this kind of preening-as-concern. Or is that concern as preening?
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)