Advice for My Conservative Students

A professor who had been a conservative undergraduate (but who now identifies as libertarian-left) offers advice to red students who feel marginalized in a blue academy. Take the tremendous opportunity of a college education to sharpen your skills and deepen your knowledge. Read Edmund Burke, Matthew Arnold, Russell Kirk, Thomas Sowell, Michael Oakeshott and Peggy Noonan. Acknowledge arguments you disagree with on their own terms, and respond to their substance.…

Business is the most popular college major, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice

Make that dime-a-dozen business degree more marketable. Study the humanities or the arts, too! Learn how to develop critical thinking, self-reflection, compassion and wisdom that will help you decide what to count or measure or build, and why. And, hey, artsy people! Take a statistics or grant-writing or computer programming class. The world needs more balanced people with both a sensible head for numbers and a heart bigger than a Cheetos…

York Corpus Christi Play Simulator Screencast (PSim 2.1; D.G. Jerz)

Another digital artifact lives. The York Corpus Christi Pageant Simulator was my first serious accomplishment in digital humanities. After I learned all the medieval drama content from a class with Andrea Johnston at the University of Toronto, I made the computer program as part of a humanities computing course with Willard McCarthy in 1994, and published a poster paper and an updated version over the next few years. This simulation…

Why We Fall for Fake News and How to Bust It

Measuring the impact of fake news spread through Facebook or Twitter is more difficult. Did made-up reports of pre-election ballot-stuffing for Hillary Clinton in Ohio before the election change any votes? Perhaps not, but it did lead the story’s original author, a Republican legislative aide in Maryland, to lose his job last week On many college campuses, professors are teaching their students identify and analyze fake news shared on social…

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

In The Republic, Plato uses an extended metaphor involving prisoners who can see nothing but shadows projected on the cavern wall. They know only blurry outlines of the true objects represented by the shadows, and they pride themselves on how well they can memorize and relate to the puppet shows performed by their captors. If anyone from the outside world were to come down to them and describe color, sunlight,…

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Bad Writing Costs Businesses Billions

This is thinkpiece rehtoric rather than an objectively measured result. It’s attractive to me because it supplies statistics that might help me sway the opinions of my students; I think they would be better off if they believed this, too, and if they shared this belief, our interactions would be less stressful and (I hope) more productive. But the solution isn’t as simple as hiring better writers, or putting more…