Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Science & society’ Category

I’ve written before of the ways that contemporary media, with their recording/archiving and modeling/projection functions, enable a simultaneous opening up of the past and the future, even as they leave us dependent on them so that our own capacities for memory and prognostication fail when our media fail. As we continue to build a universal […]

Read Full Post »

Of all the theories of what UFOs might be—optical illusions and misperceptions, hallucinations (solo and mass), hoaxes, et al—the one that raises the most epistemically troubling questions is not the Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis (EVH) but the Inter-Dimensional Hypothesis (IDH), popularized by astronomer, computer scientist, and venture capitalist Jacques Vallée. Once you open up to the possibility that there are other dimensions that interpenetrate with ours, all epistemological hell breaks loose… Not only do all religious and folk beliefs become plausible, so do all manner of interaction between the imagined and the real: from human-experimenting reptilians and human-reptilian hybrids (like those Hollywood personalities and high-level Democrats that QAnons go on about) to time-traveling benevolent and malevolent forces, Pleiadians and other star people, and anything else that might pop out of anyone’s cognitive closet. All they need is the technology to “materialize” and “dematerialize” in and out of our reality. Lordy mama help us then.

Read Full Post »

Two new publications — one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the other in The Atlantic — help make a point that critics of the “Anthropocene” (the name, not the geological designation) have been making for years: that it’s not humanity that is somehow at fault for the ecological crisis, since […]

Read Full Post »

The following distills the essence of my responses to questions from a vaccine (and Covid) skeptical friend. I share it in case it’s useful for others (and because it updates a few things I’ve written before on the topic). I’m not an epidemiologist and the comments on the science of the pandemic are those of […]

Read Full Post »

Reading Nigel Clark and Bron Szerszynski’s just published Planetary Social Thought: The Anthropocene Challenge to the Social Sciences is helping me think through what I see as perhaps the key philosophical debate of the current time. That debate is over the “ontological politics” of the difference between science in its theory and practice — including […]

Read Full Post »

In my writing about media, I’ve been using the words “ecology” and “ecosystem” fairly liberally. In a new piece called “The Limitations of the ‘New Ecosystem’ Metaphor,” The Columbia Journalism Review’s Lauren Harris argues that this metaphor is misguided. She interviews media scholar Anthony Nadler, who has claims that the metaphor “naturaliz[es] current trends in the diffusion and development of news practices.” Its use “suggests ‘spontaneous, self-ordering principles’ in the news market obscuring all the social, political, and economic decisions that undergird the status quo.”

I want to respond to that argument here by presenting the case that “ecology” is not a metaphor imported from biology, but that it’s more like the other way around: “media ecology” is a description of the world of media as much as it is a description of the world of biology. Both media and biology are constituted by the actions and processes of their constituents. In this sense, it is not a metaphor but a way of seeing, and it’s more important to ensure we understand what it is we are looking at.

Read Full Post »

Conspiracy movements like QAnon are a kind of cultural virus that spreads rapidly and widely in the new global media environment. Like invasive species, they spread into diverse cultural ecosystems, colonizing them even as they take on new forms that mimic each environment’s original inhabitants. To understand how they do this, we need to understand […]

Read Full Post »

As a humanistic scholar within an interdisciplinary school, I’m often put in a position to distinguish how the humanities differ from the social and natural sciences. There is a long tradition of distinguishing between these “two cultures,” with the most frequent point of focus, for humanists, being that they concern themselves with human meaning and […]

Read Full Post »

The Covid-19 pandemic has offered all kinds of interesting case studies for those who study controversies in science, technology, and medicine. Hydroxychloroquine is one of them. It’s a bit unusual in that it highlights how the left-liberal mediasphere has sometimes followed similar trajectories as more commonly found on the (Trumpist) political right. But it’s interesting […]

Read Full Post »

The global pandemic of Covid-19 has been accompanied by a proliferation of competing narratives of what the crisis is and means, and how it should be addressed. The UN and the World Health Organization have called this an “infodemic,” that is, an epidemic (or pandemic) of information that, in its confusing diversity, has made it […]

Read Full Post »

I’ve been haunted by Ed Yong’s description of science from the Atlantic article “Why Coronavirus is So Confusing,” which I shared a few days ago: “This is how science actually works. It’s less the parade of decisive blockbuster discoveries that the press often portrays, and more a slow, erratic stumble toward ever less uncertainty. “Our […]

Read Full Post »

One of the silver linings about the coronavirus pandemic is that it has made some people, and even institutions, more generous (at least temporarily). Among them are popular and academic journals that have removed their paywalls and offered their publications for free. (I shared one of my own articles in that category yesterday. The irony, […]

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Skip to toolbar