Students in a Finnish community college learn how to spot "fake news".

Finland is Winning the War on Fake News

This is story is from May, but it’s very relevant. Standing in front of the classroom at Espoo Adult Education Centre, Jussi Toivanen worked his way through his PowerPoint presentation. A slide titled “Have you been hit by the Russian troll army?” included a checklist of methods used to deceive readers on social media: image and video manipulations, half-truths, intimidation and false profiles. Another slide, featuring a diagram of a…

Medieval illustration of two people in curtained, barrel-like baths.

Addressing Our Biases: Medieval Bathing

Did medieval people bathe? If you already believe that the middle ages was “The Dark Ages” (a bit of very successful propaganda created by Protestant intellectuals in order to distance their own accomplishments from the Catholic roots of the Renaissance) then you are likely to perpetuate the myth that everything about life “back in the day” was nasty and alien, rather than seeing all of human culture — especially our…

So Why Do People Shrug? Researchers Say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

While contemplating what sort of body language I could give to a robot character I’m designing in Blender 3D, I started wondering about the shrug. I remember reading that kissing seems to have developed from the behavior of giving young offspring pre-chewed food, and sticking your tongue out at someone echoes what babies do when they don’t like what’s in their mouth. Raising your hand in greeting shows you aren’t carrying a weapon. But what’s a shrug?

Back in the MLA

As the humanities decline in the United States, the country is losing the craft of understanding, losing its capacity for citizenship. Even educated people are increasingly unable and unwilling to distinguish between fake and real information, becoming a community that cannot understand itself as anything more than a circulation of figures. Self-righteousness takes the place of substantive discussion. Narcissism and outrage become the dominant techniques of self-definition. And the cure…

Why Grown-Ups Keep Talking Like Little Kids

Felt writey. Because reasons. The other day I walked through a room full of toddlers who were energetically growling at each other. They were obviously playing together, but there was a passion and an aggressiveness in their voices that made me feel that somehow, they weren’t just growling at each other, they were joining forces to confront the unfairness of a stressful universe. When I noticed my 17yo daughter had…