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What is the role of the press in a democracy? For nearly a century, scholars, media critics, and politicians have debated this question—in a large part thanks to Walter Lippmann. Lippmann’s 1922 book, Public Opinion, changed the conversation about how to educate voters and who should be able to vote at all. In this episode, University of British Co…
 
Compiled by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Bacevich and retired army officer Danny A. Sjursen, Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars (Metropolitan Books, 2022) collects provocative essays from American military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, offering firsthand testimony that illuminates why th…
 
Dr. Susan Boyd is a scholar/activist and Distinguished Professor emerita at the University of Victoria. Her research examines a variety of topics related to the history of drug prohibition and resistance to it, drug law and policy, including maternal drug use, maternal/state conflicts, film and culture, radio and print media, heroin assisted-treatm…
 
Feminism's Empire (Cornell UP, 2022) investigates the complex relationships between imperialisms and feminisms in the late nineteenth century and demonstrates the challenge of conceptualizing "pro-imperialist" and "anti-imperialist" as binary positions. By intellectually and spatially tracing the era's first French feminists' engagement with empire…
 
The Earth has entered a new age—the Anthropocene—in which humans are the most powerful influence on global ecology. Since the mid-twentieth century, the accelerating pace of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and population growth has thrust the planet into a massive uncontrolled experiment. J. R. McNeill and Peter Engelke's book The Great Accel…
 
Rabbi Ari Kahn’s The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages (OU Press, 2020) represents a major achievement in the study of the lives of our Sages, as well as in the study of rabbinic Aggada. This work is an immensely learned and deeply creative interpretation of many fundamental aggadot relating to the intellectual …
 
How should we form new beliefs? In particular, what inferential strategies are epistemically justified for forming new beliefs? Nowadays the dominant theory is Bayesianism, whereby we ought to reason in accordance with Bayes’s rule based in the axioms of probability theory. In The Art of Abduction (The MIT Press, 2022), Igor Douven defends the alte…
 
During the Cold War, the British government oversaw the transition to independence of dozens of colonies. Often the most challenging aspect of this transition was the creation of a national army from colonial forces. In Built on the Ruins of Empire: British Military Assistance and African Independence (University Press of Kansas, 2022), Dr. Blake W…
 
For this episode of How To Be Wrong, I speak with George Styles, a biochemist and author of the book Contemplation. George is also what we describe these days as an “influencer”—although as we discuss he objects to that label—on social media, with over 37 thousand followers on Twitter. His approach to Twitter is novel in that he focuses on asking p…
 
A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood's most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both. One most famous for having written Citizen Kane; the other, All About Eve; one who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dyin…
 
Everything in law and politics, including individual rights, comes back to divisions of power and the evergreen question: Who decides? Who wins the disputes of the day often turns on who decides them. And our acceptance of the resolution of those disputes often turns on who the decision maker is-because it reveals who governs us. In Who Decides?: S…
 
Scholars want to decolonize everything, and universities say they are doing the hard work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. But is anything really being done, or is it all for show? In this episode, we approach these questions through three words that are common inside and outside of academia: decolonize, reconciliation, and colonialism. —…
 
Sara Farrington's The Lost Conversation: Interviews with an Enduring Avant-Garde (53rd State Press, 2021) is a collection of interviews with a host of influential artists in experimental theatre, including Richard Foreman, Lee Breuer, Adrienne Kennedy, Maude Mitchell, and Jessica Hagedorn. They discuss process, making a living as an artist, the cha…
 
Providing your children with a good education is one of the best gifts you can give. But it’s not straightforward. Education costs and student loan debt are skyrocketing. In some cases, college costs upwards of $300,000 for four years. And calculations for financial aid and merit awards are complex and opaque. How do you find the best education opt…
 
A journey through an artist's quest for success, deep dive into substance abuse, family tragedy, and ultimate triumph. By the mid-1980s, singer-songwriter John Hiatt had been dropped from three record labels, burned through two marriages, and had fallen deep into substance abuse. It took a stint in rehab and a new marriage to inspire him, then a pr…
 
During the early years of photography, settlers around the Pacific World were fascinated with the landscapes of the places they conquered. According to Dr. Jarrod Hore, a postdoctoral researcher and co-director of the New Earth Histories Research Program at the University of New South Wales, wilderness images helped Americans and Australians make s…
 
In 2016, social media users in Thailand called out the Paris-based luxury fashion house Balenciaga for copying the popular Thai “rainbow bag,” using Balenciaga’s hashtags to circulate memes revealing the source of the bags’ design. In Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property (Duke UP, 2022), Minh-Ha T…
 
Today’s episode originally aired in May of 2021, while violence was erupting all along the Gaza Strip. Israeli airstrikes had left over 200 Palestinians and a dozen Israelis dead. It was (and is) a continuation of a story of violent settler colonialism. And yet media and academic censorship has consistently silenced or punished those who speak out …
 
What is holding the oceans back from entirely flooding the earth? While a twenty-first century thinker may approach the answer to this question within a framework of gravity and geologic deep-time, Lindsay Starkey demonstrates in her monograph, Encountering Water in Early Modern Europe and Beyond: Redefining the Universe Through Natural Philosophy,…
 
Anastasia Shesterinina begins Mobilizing in Uncertainty: Collective Identities and War in Abkhazia (Cornell University Press, 2021) with an account of Georgian troops crossing into eastern Abkhazia, in the Southern Caucasus region adjacent Russia, on August 14, 1992. Thus the war that is the book’s subject began. Yet, people didn’t know it at the t…
 
Zora Neale Hurston was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, but her novels didn’t conform to the style of her contemporaries. As a result, her work was almost lost—until the writer Alice Walker found her unmarked grave in 1974. Now, Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is on high school reading lists across the US. Dartmouth profe…
 
Archives are much more than silent repositories of historical material. They are rich sites for teaching and learning, for collaboration and for creative and critical exploration of our past, present and future. In their new book, Teaching through the Archives: Text, Collaboration, and Activism (Southern Illinois University Press, 2022), Tarez Samr…
 
In this episode John Yargo speaks with Kim about Environmental Catastrophe. In the episode John quotes Hannah Arendt and N.K. Jemisin, discusses a Shakespeare play and a 17th century Peruvian painting, and optimistically suggests that environmental catastrophe will save us. He references the work of many scholars in the field of environmental human…
 
The Extraordinary by Brad Schaeffer (Post Hill Press 2021) tells the story of a family that is forced to confront both autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fourteen-year-old Wes is unable to communicate with anyone except his father, who calls him an Ex (extraordinary). Most others are Ords (ordinary). Wes’s father is a captain in the …
 
In Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications (Cambridge UP, 2021), Ronald Meester and Klaas Slooten address the role of statistics and probability in the evaluation of forensic evidence, including both theoretical issues and applications in legal contexts. It discusses what evidence is and how it can be quantified, how…
 
Dr. Kelly J. Baker is the author of the award-winning Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 (University Press of Kansas, 2011); The Zombies Are Coming!: The Realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture (Bondfire Books, 2013); Grace Period: A Memoir in Pieces (Blue Crow Books, 2017); the award-winn…
 
Compared to their Uyghur and Kazakh co-religionists in Xinjiang, China’s largest single Muslim group – the Hui – has received less media and scholarly attention lately, perhaps understandably so since the former groups have borne the brunt of the campaigns of ethnic enclosure and erasure launched in recent years by the Chinese Communist Party. But …
 
In research on 'mass killings' such as genocides and campaigns of state terror, the role of ideology is hotly debated. For some scholars, ideologies are crucial in providing the extremist goals and hatreds that motivate ideologically committed people to kill. But many other scholars are skeptical: contending that perpetrators of mass killing rarely…
 
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