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Oman

Oman: The Middle East’s Most Surprising Country by Daniel Pipes.

Oman, where I have spent the past week, is an Arab country unlike any other.

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Psychedelic

The Psychedelic Miracle by Mac McClelland.

How some doctors are risking everything to unleash the healing power of MDMA, ayahuasca and other hallucinogens.

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Attachment

Responding to your Partner’s Attachment Style by David Ludden.

The Golden Rule doesn’t always work in marriage.

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Casanova

The Real Casanova by Laurence Bergreen.

His name is synonymous with serial seduction but Casanova’s memoirs reveal a man greater than the sum of his ‘conquests.’

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Simple

Relationships Made Simple by Grant H. Brenner.

14 core principles bring clarity to a hazy subject.

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Avoidance

Information Avoidance by Russell Golman, David Hagmann, and George Loewenstein.

We commonly think of information as a means to an end. However, a growing theoretical and experimental literature suggests that information may directly enter the agent’s utility function. This can create an incentive to avoid information, even when it is useful, free, and independent of strategic considerations. We review research documenting the occurrence of information avoidance, as well as theoretical and empirical research on reasons why people avoid information, drawing from economics, psychology, and other disciplines. The review concludes with a discussion of some of the diverse (and often costly) individual and societal consequences of information avoidance.

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Anonymous

Cover of Darkness by Jamie Bartlett.

The cypherpunks are winning the crypto-war against government spies. What will happen when everyone is anonymous?

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Laugh

How To Laugh At God by Stephen Akey.

It’s hard to know exactly what moment we occupy in regard to the New Atheism and its concomitant backlash. Are we in the backlash of the backlash? Or the backlash of the backlash of the backlash? As Tim Whitmarsh shows in his recent Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, this debate is about two thousand years old; I don’t propose to resolve it today or tomorrow. I do, however, have a modest suggestion: Instead of riling up ourselves and our antagonists any further, we atheists might direct at least some of our righteousness into good-humored mockery of a perfectly harmless figure whose feelings can’t be hurt: God.

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Worse

Breaking Faith by Peter Beinart.

The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse.

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Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing by Colleen Long.

Why Italians (but not Americans) get this one right.

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Awakening

Europe’s Turkish Awakening by Burak Bekdil.

Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal that would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks’ choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party — all at the same time — is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image with which he portrays himself finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture.

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Limits

Neil Gorsuch, Natural Law, and the Limits of Judicial Power by Samuel Gregg.

What does natural law say about the power of judges in constitutional systems of government?

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(Re)Secularizing

(Re)Secularizing the University by Michael Rectenwald.

The religion of social-justice activism on campus breeds a new kind of secularism.

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Dead?

Why Freud Still Isn’t Dead by John Horgan.

Psychoanalysis still attracts adherents in spite of relentless criticism and the rise psychopharmacology and other alternatives.

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Stagnation

Sociology’s Stagnation by Brian Boutwell.

Emile Durkheim is the father of modern sociology; he is a titan. Over a century ago the great man issued an edict that would forever alter — or you could say, forever derail — the course of the discipline that he established. His proclamation, paraphrased loosely, was that any social occurrence was a product of other social occurrences that came before it. Society and culture were “prime movers”, an ultimate cause of things in the world that, for its own part, had no cause. Social facts orbited in their own solar system, untethered from the psychology and biology of individual humans. It’s almost as if this idea originated from a burning bush, high on some ancient mountain, as it would to this day steer the direction of much social science thought. Durkheim’s insight would be a hall pass for social scientists to spend decades ignoring certain uncomfortable realities. Let me try and give you an idea of just how fetid the waters really are.

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Sordid

Sordid but Not Guilty by Theodore Dalrymple.

What a criminal trial of two soccer players says about British society.

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Risk

Reza Aslan and the Risks of Making Religion Relatable by Sigal Samuel.

The scholar says his new TV show is just what minorities need. Critics say the opposite. What if both are right?

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Shaky

Mind over Matter by Adam Frank.

The closer you look, the more the materialist position in physics appears to rest on shaky metaphysical ground.

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Rebuilding

PD reviews Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture by Anthony Esolen.

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Successor?

On Deck? by Seth Barron.

New York City public advocate Letitia “Tish” James announced her most recent crusade this week: to ban New York City from doing business with any company that assists in building President Trump’s promised wall—“a monument to racism and bigotry,” as she calls it. “We will use our significant economic leverage to fight this xenophobic wall,” James says, by divesting the city’s pensions from wall-connected companies. This is not the first time that James has used her position to advance an unrelated ideological agenda: following Omar Mateen’s Orlando dance-club massacre in 2016, she tried unsuccessfully to force banks to stop lending money to gun manufacturers.

However dubious James’s efforts to stymie national policy, she remains second in line to the mayoralty. Given the federal investigations into Bill de Blasio’s growing corruption scandals, it’s worth considering what the mayor-apparent could have in store for New York, were de Blasio suddenly to leave office.

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