You probably signed up for this newsletter in the hopes I would provide cutting-edge commentary on hot-button social and political issues. Well, here’s your cutting-edge commentary: Time goes fast sometimes. Seriously: I feel like I blinked and it went from early March to almost May. So today’s newsletter is mostly just going to be catching up on some stuff I’ve written and done. Well, that and a book giveaway.
In Today’s Newsletter:
-Book Giveaway: The Map of Knowledge (short)
-What Was In The Paid Newsletter Last Week (short)
-Some Stuff I’ve Written Lately (short)
-A Few Interviews I’ve Done Lately (short)
Book Giveaway: The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found By Violet Moller
Violet Moller is a brilliant young historian and writer from Oxford — her first book offers a thrilling and comprehensive look at the stories behind the passage of classical texts and knowledge hand to hand through ancient cities on a perilous and revelatory thousand-year quest for survival from the fall of Rome to the revival of the Renaissance. Along the way, she investigates:
· The role played by non-Western cultures in the history of science, including the origins of today’s civilization and scientific disciplines beyond the traditional European, Greek, Roman, and Renaissance narratives — in particular when it comes to the enormous and largely ignored contributions of Arabic scholars to the development of knowledge in the Middle Ages.
· Who and what influenced the direction of scientific exploration in this period. As today, science in the Middle Ages provided governments and leaders significant prestige — power via information and technology, but also fame and reputation.
· The origins of commonly understood and widely accepted scientific languages along with the history of global standards and methodological frameworks.
I started this last night! Very excited to dive in fully. I’ve got two copies to give away to you guys. Send an email with ‘antiquity’ in the subject line to email@example.com and I’ll pick a winner from among everyone who enters by, say, 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
What Was In The Paid Newsletter Last Week
On Wednesday, I followed up a New York Magazine piece I wrote about the near-meltdown of the Roxane Gay/Christina Hoff Sommers Australian mini-tour (see the next section) with some thoughts about what went wrong and why I think this general type of dialogue is important, despite the failure of this particular attempt. And on Friday I asked, “Are People Overstating The Seriousness Of Online Harassment Against Women?” I recognize that I picked a provocative headline, but the example I unpack — a poll commissioned by Amnesty International which showed that the vast majority of women had experienced zero or one instances of online harassment ever, but which was nonetheless framed in an alarmist manner — does appear to support my case. I went on to argue that if liberals are going to beat up on conservatives for overhyping politically loaded threats like Islamic-extremism-inspired terrorism — and I am all for said beating-up — we should resist the impulse to do the same thing when it comes to our own pet causes.
Some Stuff I’ve Written Lately
“Inside the Near Meltdown of Roxane Gay and Christina Hoff Sommers’s Australian Mini-Tour” - New York Magazine. This one is pretty wild. Legal threats, rowdy audiences, angry emails, and so on. A useful reminder that getting people who disagree into the same place doesn’t always lead to any sort of real edification.
“Even Conspiracy Theories Have Gotten Dumber, a New Book Shows” - NY Mag. A review of A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy, a book I gave away some copies of in this here very newsletter. I enjoyed it a lot but did think the authors gave short shrift to a couple facets of the present online-misinformation ecosystem.
“The New Science of How to Argue—Constructively” - The Atlantic. The headline sliiiiiiightly oversells it. This one’s a summary of the Swedish blogger John Nerst’s quixotic quest to unify a bunch of different fields, from philosophy to anthropology to post-structuralist theory, to better understand why disagreement, particularly online, so often flies off the rails and leads to everyone feeling angrier and less able to even understand their ideological opponents’ positions.
“Finally Some Robust Research Into Whether ‘Diversity Training’ Actually Works – Unfortunately It’s Not Very Promising” - BPS Research Digeset. Pretty self-explanatory headline. I dug a bit deeper into one facet of this — the question of how the implicit association test’s effectiveness in diversity-training sessions is measured — for a paid Singal-Minded post.
“Has The Liberal Bias In Psychology Contributed To The Replication Crisis?” - BPS Research Digest. Short answer: no. Longer answer: It’s complicated.
A Few Interviews I’ve Done Lately
I’m really happy with these, or I wouldn’t be sharing them, but I’m somewhat talked-out on the subject of Those Times The Online Left Got Super Mad At Me. There are specific aspects of that subject worth unpacking, to be sure — I really do think journalists are deterred from covering certain important subjects by the fear that all their Twitter-buddies will yell at them if they do — but there are only so many times I can tell the same story. Also, I feel like I’m disappointing people when I report than in fact neither my life nor my career was ruined, or really hurt at all, by all the outrage, though let’s tack on a ‘yet’ for the latter, since there’s still time if the wrong people ascend to editorial decision-making roles at publications that matter — but so far, so good.
ANYWAY. I hope people check these out. On YouTube, I spoke with Meghan Murphy for her channel and with Cathy Young for ArcDigital. I also went on Jamie Kilstein’s podcast. There’s some overlap between all three, but I’d say the Murphy interview leaned a bit more toward gender-identity stuff (I pushed back on a few of her claims I disagree with), and the Young interview a bit more toward online-culture-war stuff (GamerGate!). The Kilstein interview is interesting (or at least I think it is) because, for reasons he went into in the introduction, and because of my own cowardice, I was initially a bit scared to be associated with him at all. But I enjoyed a tasty breakfast burrito with him in Los Angeles a couple months ago and here I still am, the very paragon of ethical probity.
That’s it. More from me soon. If you haven’t yet checked out the first two episodes of Singal-Minded Conversations, the companion podcast to this newsletter, please do: I interviewed Katie Herzog and Katie Gordon, both of whom are great and worthy of your time. I’ve got some other good stuff lined up and don’t worry — I will address the show’s obvious pro-Katie slant. And remember that if you become a paid subscriber, you both gain access to a lot of stuff and help support all of this.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions of Bad Katies I can interview to balance out the two conversations with Good Katies I’ve already done? I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @jessesingal. Today’s lead photograph of A Pretty Tree was taken by yours truly.