Monday, September 30, 2013

Threads of current debate: narcissism, ills of the world, scientism, brain science

I want to pass on some of the products of my TOC (tables of contents) scanning that I’m unlikely to develop into full posts, but that might be of interest to some readers.

Quenque does a piece focusing on San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge, who has compared decades of personality test results to conclude that younger generations are increasingly entitled, self-obsessed and unprepared for the realities of adult life. Critics have questioned her data and her results. A subsequent New York Times invitation for debate on social media and narcissism elicits a number of interesting views.

Novelist Janathan Franzen's extended screed in the Guardian on how the world is drifting towards disaster as we Tweet, Text, and spend has some choice passages, and draws a retort from Clive Thompson, who points out that similar hysteria has accompanied all new technology.

Steven Pinker's article in the New Republic,  "Science Is Not Your Enemy"  has drawn an avalanche of comment.  I've already mentioned one retort by Ross Douthat. Douthat follows this up with a piece on Sam Harris' offer of $20,000 for the best rebuttal of his book on how science can determine human values.  Leon Wieseltier rails against science invading the liberal arts.

In pieces more focused on brain science  Gopnik goes after mindless brain scientists, while Eric Kandel offers a rosy view of the new science of mind.  . 

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