« For a libertarian to feel that she has free will, she needs to feel that she has real alternate possibilities available to her when making decisions, and that she is the author or originator of her actions in a meaningful way. But the biggest obstacle to this has always been the perceived failure of libertarian models of agency to explain how an agent could have done otherwise in exactly the same conditions. Some have argued that the original set of circumstances will always obtain, every time you “roll back the film” of the action in question. Others have argued that, due to the inherent unpredictability of the universe, the original set of circumstances may not always obtain for the action in question. But even in the latter case, even if quantum indeterminacy obtains every time we roll back the film, ensuring a slightly different result, the agent can’t claim to have “freedom” then either: an agent can’t be the author or originator of a completely random event, at least not in the sense of having willed it.
« From a very young age, I liked to organize—the toys in my room, neighborhood play sessions, clubs at school. When I was in junior high and running for class vice president, one of my teachers pulled my best friend aside to warn her not to follow my example: “Nobody likes a bossy girl,” the teacher warned. “You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you.”
« We’re living in a world now where algorithms adjudicate more and more consequential decisions in our lives. It’s not just search engines either; it’s everything from online review systems to educational evaluations, the operation of markets to how political campaigns are run, and even how social services like welfare and public safety are managed. Algorithms, driven by vast troves of data, are the new power brokers in society.
« Originally I was writing it for me, Eddie Murphy, and John Belushi, and I was about a third of the way through. On a beautiful March day, I was writing a line for John when the phone rang and it was Bernie [Brillstein]. He told me that John had died in the Chateau Marmont. I finished the script with Bill Murray in mind.
« According to data from the Public Religion Research Institute, only 29 percent of Americans think watching porn is morally acceptable. Somewhat predictably, men and women have very different opinions on the issue: Only 23 percent of women approve, while 35 percent of men think it’s okay. … White evangelicals and people over 68 are the least likely to approve of watching smut: 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Millennials and people who consider themselves religiously unaffiliated approve of porn the most: 45 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
« We often have it stuck in our heads that science communicators have only failed to speak to the religious right. But while issues of science-and-society are always tied up, in some ways, with politics, they’re not bound to any particular part of the spectrum. Just ask Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., liberal political scion and vaccine skeptic extraordinaire, or Prince Charles, who pushed British health ministers to embrace homeopathic medicine.
« A Professor in Applied Linguistics believes he has decoded a few words from the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, a 600-year old work that has baffled scholars for the last hundred years.