Booby Trap (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three Episode 6) LaForge falls for a simulated nerd on the holodeck

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. To escape a thousand-year-old booby trap, LaForge interacts with a holodeck simulation of the designer of the Enterprise’s engines… and gets waaay too attached. The teaser shows LaForge on a date — a failure that he later talks over with Guinan. Meanwhile, Picard, thrilled to explore an old warship, is dismayed that his officers never played with ships-in-bottles. (“I did, sir,” says O’Brien. Picard must…

Disagreement Hierarchy: Arguments, ranked from name-calling to the careful refutation of an opponent’s central point

My weekend coronavirus lockdown project was writing up a new handout devoted to Graham’s “Disagreement Hierarchy” for academic arguments. Does the word “argument” make you think of angry people yelling? This document presents Graham’s “disagreement hierarchy,” which catalogs multiple stages between juvenile name-calling and carefully refuting an error in your opponent’s central point. Siblings might “argue” over who gets the comfy chair. Persuasion in that case might involve out-shouting or…

It’s unfair to treat every gaffe as evidence of malice or incompetence. But were Trump’s demonstrably false statements gaffes?

Public officials misspeak all the time. Journalists make mistakes all the time. Ordinary citizens over-react to headlines without reading the full article all the time. We are all of us human. It’s unfair for any of us to treat every gaffe as evidence of malice or incompetence.   For example, critics of President Trump are stretching when they say Trump called coronavirus a “hoax.” In the context of his Feb…

Who Watches the Watchers (ST:TNG Season Three Episode 4) Rationalist, talky mythbusting

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a primitive, rationalist society mistakes Federation technology for supernatural power, Picard must do whatever it takes to undo the resulting cultural contamination. Fortunately for Picard, that involves lots of talking. A grim scene in sickbay memorably demonstrates that humans in the 24th century can sometimes delay but cannot defeat death. A cleverly subversive climax has Picard calmly determined to deliver the Mintakans from…

Fact check: Trump utters series of false and misleading claims at coronavirus briefing

Not fake news. Not the enemy of the American people. “Nobody ever thought a thing like this could have happened,” said the the president at Thursday’s press event. Feb 27: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.” [Narrator: “Cases were not going down.”] Feb 26: “The 15 [documented cases of COVID-19 in the USA] within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” [Narrator: “It…

When People Only Read the Headline — Misuse of Journalism

The Society of Professional Journalists links to an interview with an MIT professor who’s studying misinformation on social media (which is not the same thing as bad journalism — some bad actors take journalism out of context in order to deceive). Responsible journalists are aware that sensational headlines can harm the public. The truth is journalists in the field reporting breaking news often don’t write the headlines. Marketers will try…