Debunking the newspapers are dying idea

Don’t count on viral social media posts or TV talkshow monologues to form your world view. It’s a moral obligation for people in a free society to have access to credible, unbiased information. All evidence shows that people of all ages want and consume more news than ever. We need to focus on new ways to address the needs of audience. Legacy newspapers are considered trusted sources of information; we…


Scientists Trace Society’s Myths to Primordial Origins

Ancient cultures from Africa to Asia to the Mediterranean share core myths such as the animal pursued by a hunter who is transformed into a constellation, or a sculptor falling in love with a statute that comes to life, or a clever hunter outwitting a monster who keeps animals in a cave. This Scientific American article describes a method to trace the origin of stories through waves of human migration…


Ode to Huckleberry Finn, Dec’d

(Inspired by Emmeline Grangerford, Dec’d.) Girls, take his cold dead hand and kiss The knuckle – very thin, And bid adieu and ballyhoo Poor Huckleberry Finn. And was it prowling cannibals Or adversary’s sin That spilled the flood of crimson blood Of Huckleberry Finn? O hear my sad, sad words of woe (As I more clement wax) And mark! His brain was cleft in twain By yonder guilty axe! What…


Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing.

When my students refer in passing to “the media,” I know what they mean, but I ask them to be more specific, noting that handwritten notes, carvings on stone tablets, and papier mâché are all examples of “media.” So I agree with this WashPo observation that the term is so general it is meaningless. Not too long ago “the press” was a perfectly well-understood nickname for print journalists. When working…


STEM Education Is Vital–But Not at the Expense of the Humanities

Promoting science and technology education to the exclusion of the humanities may seem like a good idea, but it is deeply misguided. Scientific American has always been an ardent supporter of teaching STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But studying the interaction of genes or engaging in a graduate-level project to develop software for self-driving cars should not edge out majoring in the classics or art history. The need to…


A Dance Mom Gets Schooled by a Ballet Mistress Who Can Write

Avoid trying to publicly shame a ballet mistress who can write.

This morning, someone pseudonymously spammed the parent email list at my daughter’s ballet school, with a scolding complaint about a delayed cast list. It read, in part: “We pay our fees on time…. We received the email to donate to the school’s fundraiser this week on time. But no cast List. This is a teachable moment to demonstrate that being on time, especially when a promise is involved, is important.”

The school’s response, posted about a half hour later, ended thus: “Emailing using an address we can not identify and failing to sign your email shows a lack of conviction. Failing to understand that it is a relatively easy thing to discover your identity through your IP address is another indication that your action was not thought through. If the lessons you wanted to teach here were your own ignorance, arrogance and cowardice, you’ve succeeded.”

The whole response is worth a sincere, rousing “slow clap”.