Practicing Intellectual, Evidence-based Disagreement

This is what a busy literature seminar on evidence-based disagreement looks like. I’ve asked the students to pair up to create a 2-3-minute podcast that demonstrates they can participate in a respectful, evidence-based disagreement over Poe’s “The Raven.” I asked each student to introduce the other student’s position, and to do so respectfully, without caricaturing or demeaning the ignorant or evil jerks whose opinions or values or life experiences dare…


Rolling Stone heading to trial over debunked story of UVa rape

For the first time since Rolling Stone magazine’s shocking story about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia hit shelves two years ago, the public may hear from the young woman at the center of the now discredited article “A Rape on Campus.” | A defamation trial against the magazine is set to begin Monday over the November 2014 article about the woman identified only as “Jackie” and her…


Fake News Taints Facebook’s Trending Topics

In an experiment conducted over several weeks following Facebook’s promotion of the fake Megyn Kelly story, the Post recorded which topics were trending for it every day, on the hour, across four accounts. | That turned up five trending stories that were “indisputably fake” and three that were “profoundly inaccurate,” Caitlyn Dewey reported. | There’s no way to know whether those were the only false or highly inaccurate articles that made…


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…


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”.