The cover of issue 127 of the journal Social Text
Critical ThinkingHigher EducationPublishingScience

Evaluating the Sokal Hoax Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago, in May 1996 (okay, twenty years and four months—sue me), Alan Sokal, a physicist at with appointments at the University College London and New York University, published a ground-breaking paper in the respected critical theory journal Social Text. The paper has been highly influential. I learned about …

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Critical ThinkingCultureSecondary Education

White Teacher, Black and Brown Students: Race and Representation in the Modern American Classroom

This Olympics, Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win Olympic swimming gold. Her tears during the medal ceremony were moving, and her words at the press conference following it even more so. When she said, “The gold medal wasn’t just for me. It was for people who came …

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Critical ThinkingCultureInformal EducationPoliticsReligionScience

What Pramaoedya Ananta Toer Tried to Teach His Kids About Medicine and Critical Thinking

Pramaoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) was an award-winning Indonesian writer who was famous for the novels that he wrote during two long stints as a political prisoner. He was first jailed by the Dutch in 1947 for his anti-colonial activities, and then again by President Suharto for being a leftist from …

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Dictionaries and guides to modern and Old English
Critical ThinkingCultureEducation

English Has Never Been Better

I got trolled by the The Economist the other day on Facebook: It wasn’t the fake spelling joke that got me. Based on the Facebook preview of the article, it sounded like the linked article (which is actually from February 2015) was yet another tired condemnation of The Youth of …

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Three-way head-on collision of a red, yellow, and green car at a demolition derby.
Critical ThinkingEducationPolitics

Surprise! Grades are nothing like dollars.

Everyone likes a good ideological parable, especially when it confirms what they already believe to be true about the world. I recently caught the following gem on Facebook, which seems perfectly crafted to tickle the fancy of your garden-variety “daggum socialist Obama” conservative type: An economics professor at a local …

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Critical Thinking

A Skeptatic Dialogue, Conclusion

Quentis and Firmatio: A Skeptatic Dialogue, Conclusion Continued from Part 4.   Epilogue: While the Socratic dialogues are useful in studying the Socratic method, perhaps this Skeptatic dialogue might be helpful in explaining the Skeptical method. Or perhaps not, I’m experimenting with different pedagogical techniques and this is one result. …

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Critical ThinkingPolitics

Why I like Donald Trump. Or, how can something so wrong feel so right?

I am a bit of a political junkie. Thus, I watched the first Republican debate even though it is about 99.99% likely that I’ll vote Democrat for president. However, since there is more than a 0.01 chance that the next president will be a Republican, it made me wonder which …

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Critical Thinking

A Skeptatic Dialogue, Part 4

Quentis and Firmatio: A Skeptatic Dialogue, Part 4 Continued from Part 3.   Firmatio: So that’s it then? You’re wrong and we can move on? Quentis: Not yet, the reason why I’m wrong is much more important than just the fact that I am wrong. A moment ago I told …

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Critical Thinking

A Skeptatic Dialogue, Part 3

Quentis and Firmatio: A Skeptatic Dialogue, Part 3 Continued from Part 2.   Firmatio: Right, so you don’t think you can fly anymore? Quentis: Of course I still think I can fly, because I believe it is true. Firmatio: That’s not a good reason. Quentis: Sure it is. I have …

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Critical Thinking

A Skeptatic Dialogue, Part 2

Quentis and Firmatio: A Skeptatic Dialogue, Part 2 Continued from Part 1.   Quentis: Sure, but science doesn’t know everything. There’s a lot of things that western science doesn’t understand. Being able to fly if you jump three times is one of those things. Scientists don’t even know how bees …

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