“True believers” vs. believers in the truth

From Aeon Magazine, this is an essay by a philosophy professor. He says that when a person’s beliefs are based on “wilful ignorance”, when they are “false, or morally repugnant, or irresponsible, or dangerous” then we have no right to believe in them.

“Consider those who believe that the lunar landings or the Sandy Hook school shooting were unreal, government-created dramas; that Barack Obama is Muslim; that the Earth is flat; or that climate change is a hoax. In such cases, the right to believe is proclaimed as a negative right; that is, its intent is to foreclose dialogue, to deflect all challenges; to enjoin others from interfering with one’s belief-commitment. The mind is closed, not open for learning. They might be ‘true believers’, but they are not believers in the truth.”

When we refuse to learn, we give up our right to believe in “our facts”.

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If at first you don’t succeed…

… try, try again. 失敗は成功のもと.

Another saying that’s relevant here: “Necessity is the mother of invention” — the problem with the first iteration of this invention was that nobody needed it.

Read more at NPR: “After A Failed Launch, Smart Shoe Benefits From A Reboot”

And find out more about SolePower

Debate and discussion questions / writing prompts:

  • Would you like to have shoes that charge your phone as you walk?
  • Would you be more interested if they came in other styles than work boots?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for shoes like this?
  • What ways can you imagine this “find me!” (like the “find my phone” app) technology might be useful?
  • But isn’t this just one more way our privacy is being breached?
  • What other kinds of technology would you like to have in your shoes?

Investing in students’ futures

This is a short video about a new program at a university in the U.S. (Purdue, in Indiana) that aims to shift the risk of student loan debt from the student to the university. Basically, the students promise to pay the university a small percentage of their future income after graduation instead of having student loans — with interest rates — that burden them regardless of what happens after graduation.

On the PBS site, the video has a written transcript below it, and the subtitles are correct if you need them to help your listening comprehension.

Some related statistics (from this site):

  • There’s $1.45 trillion in student debt in the US right now.
  • The average amount a student has to repay in total is $37,000 (which is 6% more than it was last year).
  • The average amount a student has to repay per month is $351.
  • Interest rates on paying back student loans range from about 2.7% to 8.2%.

There are many issues to debate with a program like Purdue’s, but as someone who finally paid off her student loans — with interest rates at about 4 or 5% —  for undergraduate and graduate school in her 30s, I wish I’d at least had this option.

Free speech vs. hate speech

Yesterday’s topic was about book banning and censorship. How about hate speech and censorship? Where should we draw the line on free speech?

Here’s an article about a protest that took place in Tokyo a few days ago, outside of Twitter’s office.

At Twitter’s Tokyo Office, Protesters Stomp on Hateful Tweets” (from Global Voices)

That’s one way to protest. Another way is with humor. Like the “Mean Tweets” segment on Jimmy Kimmel. People read mean tweets about themselves. One way to deal with bullies is to laugh at them.

Here’s one with President Obama, done right before the election. His response to the last tweet is depressing to see now, but I do miss his sense of humor.