Beyond Intractability in Context Blog

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Posts ordered from most recent to earliest.

  • A skeptical account of the wisdom of many current climate change policies and a preview of emerging conflicts over those policies. Protecting the climate will require more constructive responses. -- The Climate-Change ‘Emergency’ Is Coming for You --
  • A review and summary of a new book that examines the complex forces that have led to the United States' wars -- forces that are not as rational, dispassionate, and honorable as we would like to believe. -- Why U.S. Presidents Really Go to War --
  • More insight into the dynamics underlying our hyper-polarized society and the role that our conscious actions play in this process. -- Polarization is a choice --
  • From Chile, a retrospective and agonizing account of what happens when democracies do, in fact, fail and authoritarians take over. -- I Watched a Democracy Die. I Don’t Want to Do It Again. --
  • It is a lot easier to get people to change their opinions and behavior through persuasion. Force tends to lead to backlash, defiance, and intensified conflict. -- Ross Douthat’s Theories of Persuasion --
  • For those who don't want to be lied to with statistics, a lesson on how to protect yourself. -- How not to be fooled by viral charts --
  • A reassuring argument that the human brain really does differ dramatically from the artificial brains that are causing so much concern. -- In Defense of the Human Brain --
  • For anyone who thinks that we understand war and can reliably predict its outcome, a review of failed predictions (and an argument for not trying to "ride the tiger"). -- Beware the False Prophets of War --
  • Boutros Boutros Ghali's 1992 "Agenda for Peace" taught us the word peacebuilding. This article looks at the United Nations' recent update of this important document. -- Reinvigorating Peace: A Critical Look at the UN’s New Agenda for Peace --
  • A must-read explanation of why it is so critical that we "save" democracy and the pitfalls of many popular strategies that people are using to pursue this goal. -- Good Intentions Gone Awry --
  • An article about the Supreme Court that makes an important distinction between conflicts over differing legal philosophies and attempts to subvert the rule of law. -- The Supreme Court Isn’t Rogue --
  • An attempt to map out the ways in which today's "power elite" exerts its influence over the larger society. -- The Workings of the Party-State --
  • An argument that a big part of our hyper-polarized politics is the direct result of the failure of our educational institutions to teach the civic skills and values upon which democracy depends. -- By Abandoning Civics, Colleges Helped Create the Culture Wars --
  • A stunning online visualization tool that makes visible the vast network of global trade upon which we all depend. -- Marine Traffic --
  • A provocative essay exploring the origins, impacts, and idiosyncrasies of "dog whistle" politics. -- Whistling in the Dark --
  • A profile of the crisis arising from China's inability to put its young, educated workforce to work (and its authoritarian response). -- Young People in China Can’t Find Work, and Xi Jinping Has Only One Response --
  • Reflections on our tendency to view today's big challenges in apocalyptic and existential terms (and the role that fear mongering activists play in all of this). -- Why Activists Keep Telling You the World is Ending --
  • A review and summary of an important new book examining the history of conflicts arising from technological innovation. -- Innovation and Its Discontents --
  • A look at the increasingly frequent practice of requiring job applicants in higher education to submit DEI statements. (How does this differ from requiring a progressive loyalty oath?) -- D.E.I. Statements Stir Debate on College Campuses --
  • A story about Wyoming's reaction to the nationalization of politics and political reporting and the way in which this impacts their ability to sensibly deal with local issues. -- Republicans in Wyoming See Clearly What’s Happening --
  • Amid free speech concerns about Republican efforts to ban the teaching of certain topics, a reasonably impartial look at what, exactly, they are trying to ban. -- Here's the Long List of Topics Republicans Want Banned From the Classroom --
  • For United States, a country that likes to think of its democracy as exemplary, a look at countries that have found ways to fashion better democracies. -- How American Democracy Fell So Far Behind --
  • A call for students at elite institutions of higher education who are concerned about unfair privilege and class inequities to be honest with themselves about the many privileges they enjoy. -- Chuck Your Privilege --
  • On the anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington, thoughtful reflections on the meaning of his "I Have a Dream" speech in the contemporary context. -- MLK and the Content of Character --
  • An exploration of the likely possibility that the U.S. 2024 election might not produce a result that the losers view is fair and legitimate. -- A crisis in U.S. presidential legitimacy is looming --