How do I tell my daughter that her online ‘truth’ is a conspiracy theory?

This confusion about the truth usually begins to disappear as children grow up and see that there are not only observable facts, but also collectively observable knowledge that is difficult to verify but must nevertheless be taken on trust. The idea that the Earth is (roughly) a sphere and orbits the sun is pretty much universally accepted, but very few know the science that proves it. It is taken as a matter of faith as part of our established store of knowledge. It struck me as I argued with my daughter that the collective store of trusted knowledge is dwindling, despite the so-called information revolution. Adults, like children, tend towards the irrational, and the internet has become an immense tool for facilitating that tendency.

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Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance threatens the heart of American innovation

Because Trump has flip-flopped on the topic in the past, it’s uncertain whether he’ll heed the advice of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others to allow more foreign-born computer scientists and software engineers to fill US jobs. In fact, despite his supporters’ defense that Trump is focusing on illegal immigrants, his proposals may in fact undermine legal immigration in ways the tech industry has never seen before.

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These anti-terrorism posters echo Nazi propaganda

However inadvertently, the designers have used a horribly familiar antisemitic image. The impact goes far beyond these associations, serious as those are. A friend who was unaware of Nazi iconography revealingly said that she saw on the poster an “evil-looking dark-skinned man”. The image plays on people’s fears of “the other”, and creates anxiety about a suspicious “they” who may be hiding something, in the words of the poster.

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Fearless polymaths: irrelevance and creativity

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In an interview with the Guardian, Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, talked about a few things – Hillary Clinton in particular. But she also said something that piqued my interest:

“The young people we hire today at Condé Nast are fearless polymaths”

That’s about the fifth time I’ve heard that word in the past week. Admittedly the other four were because I used it. But I’ve had a few conversations recently, with both students and colleagues about the need, as one of my graduates advised current students before Christmas, to ‘be interesting’.

A colleague told me recently that more than one professional illustrator had advised students not to specialise, and to remain flexible, taking an interest in as much as possible and to express themselves creatively in as many ways as possible.

Wintour said the same thing in her Guardian interview:

Wintour used the opportunity to appeal to the younger generation to “not become too specialised” and instead “be intellectually free”

And

“I urge you instead to seek to be relevant, to be agile and educated.”

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Ai Weiwei shuts Danish show in protest at asylum seeker law

 Ai Weiwei

“He had been watching the news during the night and wanted to react. I didn’t try to dissuade him. This is not so much about which country does more or less for refugees, it is the symbolic importance of the new law. This [kind of thing] is spreading over Europe, and we in Denmark are taking the lead in this by making this law.”

Worth noting this story broke on World Holocaust Remembrance Day. My emphasis in that quote is all the more chilling for it.

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