Aeon
The town I live in
October 19th, 2017, 04:01 AM

Boyle Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles, is a predominantly Latino neighbourhood where some three in 10 people live below the poverty line. When a number of largely white-owned art galleries started opening here over the past few years, a familiar narrative began to emerge: new businesses and more affluent tenants moved in, followed by rent rises that forced out longtime residents. But while many young activists in Boyle Heights have loudly and aggressively protested the art galleries, Guadalupe Rosales – a successful artist and Boyle Heights native committed to preserving the history of her neighbourhood – doesn’t find the issues around gentrification to be quite so cut and dry. Treating a controversial subject with unusual nuance and care, Rosales’s short documentary The Town I Live In, co-directed by the US filmmaker Matt Wolf, examines the vexing topic of gentrification without resorting to any overly easy answers.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

Kids? Just say no
October 19th, 2017, 04:01 AM

You don’t have to dislike children to see the harms done by having them. There is a moral case against procreation

By David Benatar

Read at Aeon

What happened when I made my students turn off their phones
October 18th, 2017, 04:01 AM

As a teacher who has long witnessed and worried about the impacts of technology in the classroom, I constantly struggle to devise effective classroom policies for smartphones. I used to make students sing or dance if their phones interrupted class, and although this led to some memorable moments,...

By Joelle Renstrom

Read at Aeon

Treat people as citizens
October 18th, 2017, 04:01 AM

How a generation of political thinkers has underestimated the abilities of ordinary people and undermined democracy

By Nicholas Tampio

Read at Aeon

Ballet rotoscope
October 17th, 2017, 04:01 AM

Taking inspiration from the rotoscope – an early filmmaking device that allowed animators to trace over live-action – the Japanese design group EUPHRATES used an innovative computer algorithm to capture outlines and extract other information from a video of a ballerina, Kurimu Urabe of the Bolshoi, dancing in a ballet studio. Working from that information, the filmmakers created dynamic animations to interact with the dancer. The resulting short video, Ballet Rotoscope, is an inspired and extremely satisfying slice of augmented reality.

Via Kottke

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

Why the trial by ordeal was actually an effective test of guilt
October 17th, 2017, 04:01 AM

The quest for criminal justice is fraught with uncertainty. Did the defendant commit the crime, or is he a victim of incriminating circumstances? Is he guilty as charged, or has he been charged guilty by an overzealous prosecutor? Unsure about the truth, we often end up guessing ‘He did it’ when ...

By Peter T Leeson

Read at Aeon

Intimate spaces
October 17th, 2017, 04:01 AM

In his Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard created a philosophy of at-homeness, rich in emotion and memory

By Gillian Darley

Read at Aeon

Promise
October 16th, 2017, 04:01 AM

In his intimate and personal film Promise, the French-based South Korean director Jéro Yun takes us on visits to a Paris hostel where he has formed a friendship with the owner, a woman who reminds him of his mother whom he hasn't seen in a decade. In a poignant echo, the woman has been unable to see her own son for nine years, fearing that a trip back to China would mean losing her visa. Spare but filled with feeling, Yun’s short documentary evokes the aching yearning of people far from home and family – people for whom surrogates and substitutes offer a touch of solace that never is quite enough. Snowy exteriors and shadowy interiors provide a beautifully moody backdrop for this bittersweet story of two people whose meaning to each other in the present moment is inescapably tethered to their pasts.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

‘Know thyself’ is not just silly advice: it’s actively dangerous
October 16th, 2017, 04:01 AM

There is a phrase you are as likely to find in a serious philosophy text as you are in the wackiest self-help book: ‘Know thyself!’ The phrase has serious philosophical pedigree: by Socrates’ time, it was more or less received wisdom (apparently chiselled into the forecourt of the Temple of Apoll...

By Bence Nanay

Read at Aeon

Does science need mavericks?
October 16th, 2017, 04:01 AM

Staid and conformist, science risks losing its creative spark. Does it need more mavericks, or are they part of the problem?

By Adrian Currie

Read at Aeon

Nixon’s coming
October 13th, 2017, 04:01 AM

‘A part of me was going: Now's your big chance: say something that makes him see everything.’

In the very early morning of 9 May 1970, a few days after the Ohio National Guard killed four Vietnam War protesters at Kent State University, and the United States began conducting military operations in Cambodia, President Richard Nixon ventured out from the White House to talk with protesters gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial. Using a recently declassified recording of Nixon describing the event, and an interview with the photographer Bob Moustakas, one of the protesters who briefly met the president while tripping on LSD, Nixon’s Coming examines the bizarre, pre-dawn encounter from both perspectives. Cleverly constructed, the short archival documentary explores the cultural tensions of the times through one fleeting, and exceptionally strange, conversation.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

Anger is temporary madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it
October 13th, 2017, 04:01 AM

People get angry for all sorts of reasons, from the trivial ones (someone cut me off on the highway) to the really serious ones (people keep dying in Syria and nobody is doing anything about it). But, mostly, anger arises for trivial reasons. That’s why the American Psychological Association has ...

By Massimo Pigliucci

Read at Aeon

Confucian ancestor worship
October 12th, 2017, 04:01 AM

Confucius’ philosophy of ‘filial piety’ – a fervent respect for one’s parents and ancestors – is still central to Chinese society, even among those who aren’t followers of Confucianism. This brief animation from BBC Radio 4’s A History of Ideas series explores why Confucius believed that the virtue of honouring one’s predecessors was vital for a successful, harmonious society.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

The death of languages
October 12th, 2017, 04:01 AM

Endangered languages have sentimental value, it's true, but are there good philosophical reasons to preserve them?

By Rebecca Roache

Read at Aeon

The Madras Observatory: from Jesuit cooperation to British rule
October 11th, 2017, 04:01 AM

The Madras Observatory offers little to the visitor's eye. Stone slabs and broken pillars lie ignored in a fenced-off section of a local weather centre in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Few tourists venture out to see the ruins of the 18th-century complex. On the other side of the subcontin...

By Blake Smith

Read at Aeon

An unlikely triumph
October 11th, 2017, 04:01 AM

In its first century the American higher-education system was a messy, disorganised joke. How did it rise to world dominance?

By David Labaree

Read at Aeon

Leh wi tok (Let us talk)
October 10th, 2017, 04:01 AM

The small West African nation of Sierra Leone descended into civil war in 1991 when the rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) took up arms against the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). By the time the RUF finally surrendered in 2002, at least 50,000 people had been killed – some of them child soldiers. Leh wi Tok (Let Us Talk) chronicles the extraordinary story of Andrew Jenekeh Kromah, who risked his life running a community radio station during the war, and now seeks to use his expanded network of community-based radio stations to help heal his country and hold government officials responsible. Hopeful without losing sight of the very real challenges that Sierra Leoneans still face, the film makes clear the value of a serious and independent media at a time when the reminder is sorely needed.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

How doctors’ bias leads to unfair and unsound medical triage
October 10th, 2017, 04:01 AM

When someone is sick or needs the help of a physician, who should decide what is appropriate – what blood tests and imaging studies to order, what medicines to prescribe, what surgeries to perform? Should it be the doctor, the patient or some combination of the two? Most people nowadays (even mos...

By Philip Rosoff

Read at Aeon

Why women stray
October 10th, 2017, 04:01 AM

Evolutionary theory says men stray to increase offspring, but what motivates women? Enter the mate-switching hypothesis

By David Buss

Read at Aeon

Correlation can imply causation
October 9th, 2017, 04:01 AM

The old statistics axiom that correlation doesn’t imply causation is true, but causation can be drawn from more than one correlation. A clever and impressively efficient explainer, this short animation from MinutePhysics clears up a common maths misconception by showing how the concept of causal networks can be used to draw a straight line between correlations and causation via a process of elimination.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon