Richard Thaler, Consent, Reality, First Peoples, Simon Schama

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It Is Impossible Not To Nudge

Richard Thaler | Edge | 10th October 2017

From the archives of Edge, a masterclass in behavioural economics from this year’s Nobel prizewinner, Richard Thaler. Discussants include Daniel Kahneman, Jeff Bezos, Nathan Myrhvold. “There is no way of avoiding meddling. People sometimes have the confused idea that we are pro meddling. That is a ridiculous notion. It’s impossible not to meddle. Given that we can’t avoid meddling, let’s meddle in a good way. Some ways of meddling are better than others” (9,300 words)

The Horizon Of Desire

Laurie Penny | Longreads | 10th October 2017

PG-13. But for anybody possessed of the facts of life, strongly recommended. “Giving someone your consent — sexually, politically, socially — is a little like giving them your attention. It’s a continuous process. It’s an interaction between two human creatures. I believe that a great many men and boys don’t understand this. That lack of understanding is causing unspeakable trauma for women, men, and everyone else who is sick of how much human sexuality still hurts” (4,300 words)

Consciousness: An Object Lesson

Riccardo Manzotti & Tim Parks | New York Review Of Books | 9th October 2017

Conversation about perception and reality between a writer and a psychologist, developing the theme that objects have some properties that are absolute and some that are relative. A key is a key in relation to a lock. Elementary particles are ‘real’, but they combine to make things that are just as ‘real’ as the particles themselves. “If the atoms were not there, the apple would not be there. That is something we all agree on. But the apple is something more than the atoms it is made of” (2,700 words)

A New History Of The First People In America

Adam Rutherford | Atlantic | 3rd October 2017

How genetics is changing our understanding of America’s earliest history. Beringians from Siberia crossed into Alaska some 24,000 years ago and settled in the Yukon. From there they slowly spread out across the rest of North and South America, forming “the pool from which all Americans would be drawn until 1492”. Beringians appear to be the common ancestors of the entire American continental population until Columbus. There is no genetic evidence of other ancestral groups (4,100 words)

The Story Of The Jews

Andrew Anthony | Guardian | 8th October 2017

Admiring review of Belonging, volume two of Simon Schama’s “mammoth” Story Of The Jews, covering 1492-1900. “Jews have traditionally been caught in a double bind: not trusted as a distinct minority, and trusted even less when they attempt to adopt the majority culture or religion. It used to be that the Jews were not trusted – were seen as rootless and disloyal – because they didn’t have a state of their own. It’s more than ironic that the reason they now draw suspicion is because there is a Jewish state” (1,200 words)

Video of the day: The Voynich Manuscript

What to expect:

TED-Ed introduction to the 15C manuscript that is either nonsensical or written in uncrackable code (4’40”)

Thought for the day

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none is undeservedly remembered
W.H. Auden

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