• Rabbi of Strasbourg inspects vandalized cemetery. Cover photo for Modern Political Dialogue Has Broken Down.
    Culture and Society,  Politics,  Quick Read

    The Breakdown of Modern Political Dialogue

    When people begin to assume the worst of any given outgroup – the rate of which is increasing between today’s political tribes – that group becomes subject to attacks by the ingroup. Its members are often perceived as vile or sub-human. This designation can be used to justify even the most horrific acts against them. It is the catalyst which turns passionate hate to violent action. And it has.

  • Culture and Society,  Long-form,  Politics,  Psychology

    The Humanity of the NPC Meme

    The great irony of the NPC meme is that it is surprisingly human. At its core, it describes the words and actions of individuals as the products of their environments. Whether its creators were aware of it or not, they were highlighting an aspect of the human experience which should be considered unanimous, for we are all subject – at least on occasion – to the power of social influence.

  • Cover photo for Social Media and the Virtual Cult
    Culture and Society,  Politics,  Psychology

    Social Media and Virtual Cultism

    It is undeniable that people on social media tend to be a bit more…extreme. Some blame it on the oft-anonymous nature of the internet. Others believe the cult-like extremism to be nothing more than an unrepresentative vocal minority. And others still believe that the most outrageous posts simply garner the most attention. Maybe social media users fall into the same “if it bleeds it leads” trap as the news. All of this is true…in part. But there is something about social media that brings out this behavior in even the most sensible people—something that causes our calm, rational conduct to be replaced by a passionate, irrational, cult-like behavior...

  • Image for "An argument for free speech."
    Culture and Society,  Politics

    An Argument for Free Speech: Challenge Begets Progress

    You probably feel that your own instincts on any given topic represent the most moral options. But what if the appointed censor—whether it be the government, a business, etc.—were to disagree? What if it were to deem taboo the discussions that you felt to be necessary and allowed those you felt should be prevented? When you give away the right to choose for yourself, this is an inevitability.

  • Evolution of conflict stencil graffiti on Vali-ye-Asr Avenue in central Tehran
    Culture and Society,  Long-form,  Psychology

    New Conflict Theory: No Inequality Necessary – Only Humanity

    Humans crave struggle; a mountain to climb, that we might reach the top and experience that brief, euphoric moment of pride in what we’ve overcome. We desire purpose, a cause for which we can fight, and a battlefield that gives us the opportunity to do so. But how does this fit into a modern society whose primary function is to prevent this kind of struggle, to protect us from these battles?

  • A broken clock
    Culture and Society,  Politics

    A Broken Clock Is Sometimes Right: And So Is Your Enemy

    These two fallacies – the infallibility of one’s own group and the perfect ineptitude of the other – are beliefs which constitute two sides of the same coin, and so they tend to be held simultaneously. If the number of people who hold these beliefs becomes great enough, the result is a culture which is as incapable of acknowledging the flaws and missteps of its own tribe as it is of acknowledging the successes of its opposition. The implications of this are, among other things, a people and a government which are increasingly incapable of compromise.

  • Student body at Philip Harding Harvard Commencement, May 2014
    Civil Rights,  College and University

    Affirmative Action: A Band-Aid on Student Inequality

    Last year, Harvard University celebrated its second consecutive year of a non-white majority freshmen class, with 50.9% of admitted students coming from minority groups. On the surface, this would seem to be an indictment of the White House’s recent reversal of the Obama administration’s stance on affirmative action as proof that the system has yielded what was promised by it: diversity and equal-opportunity in American universities. However, a closer look at how Harvard managed to achieve these goals suggests that these achievements exist only on the surface, as the opportunities afforded by affirmative action are anything but equal.