Too Much Optimism?

Now that the optimism of Donald Trump and Jaire Bolsonaro has been exposed as reckless indifference to public health, the perils of extreme optimism are obvious enough. Yet Trump and Bolsonaro are not alone - most political leaders have indulged flights of fantasy in the face of contrary epidemiology and hygienic measures necessary to curb any infectious disease, or in context of properly assessing any new vaccine. To be generous, one could call this political activity ‘cautious optimism’, as the newscasters would put it. At the risk of being brutal we might just settle for optimism. This essay continues an exploration of a more generic state: cultural optimism - an expectation that now characterises social life in the west, and possibly everywhere. It is particularly important to recognise the negative influence that optimism has today. In the context of a global pandemic and global climate change we are now at a critical point in world history. Read More...

Optimism

In this essay, Tom Jagtenberg suggest that human self-understanding has become blinded by optimism. Indeed, as a species we have become addicted to optimism. Without optimism no one can hope to succeed in a public office. Leaders feel obliged to be optimistic. Read More...

Self in a Digital Age: life after narcissism?

As we move, inexorably, into an Anthropocene Era, it is important to register that because we are a technological species the transformation of Earth by humanity is now a matter of degree. Unfortunately, over-population and climate change mean that any hope for a return to a golden age - with pristine beaches, wilderness, and close connection to an unspoiled nature - is a forlorn hope. Read More...

 
Damn Lies and Statistics

When Janet Albrechsten told ‘a story of a faithless age’ (‘Faith, hope and celebrity at the polls’, The Weekend Australian, January 13-14, p.19) my fact-checking antennae went wild. Read More...

 
Post-Truth Climate Change?

Could it be that the history of the world will now be divided into pre- and post- Trump eras? More likely Trump’s election will support an older claim that contemporary politicians and media are generating a “post-truth”/”post-fact” world... Read More...

 
The Anthropocene: A New World Epoch?
Has humanity so changed the order of nature on Earth that we have become pioneers of a new era? Read More...
 
 
Review of Clive Hamilton’s Defiant Earth

This is an important book. At a time when the credibility of politicians has fallen to new depths one would hope that there is more appetite for books that are realistically bleak in their outlook. Defiant Earth does not pander to mainstream demands for optimism, leadership, creativity and economic growth... Read more

 

 

Defining privacy: the merit of conceptual disarray

The bad behaviour of banks, Facebook, and other organisations that use our personal data has made privacy a major contemporary issue in western societies. One suspects that it is actually data theft rather than privacy that is the ‘hot button’ issue, but nonetheless privacy has emerged as a concept of interest - particularly for those affected by data theft and identity fraud, those interested in social issues and social theory, and anyone interested in privacy as part of their being...Read more...