The Index: 9/15-9/21

Inspired by the reading lists put out by the book bloggers I follow, I’m starting a Sunday series called The Index, where I briefly discuss my recent media habits. Expect to find albums, articles, podcasts, books, academic papers, and documentaries about who knows what, because I am woefully noncommittal in my consumption habits.

A Review of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior by Noam Chomsky (chapter)

This could be read as a scathing Yelp review of Skinner’s attempt to apply behaviorism to language: Chomsky concluded that the approach Skinner suggests “covers almost no aspect of verbal behavior,” or else is no better than other formulations. In my opinion, though, it’s best to avoid any sort of absolutist interpretation of this chapter. Chomsky did not say that behaviorism is useless. What was said instead was that, at that point in time, the solutions Skinner proposed were premature, inappropriate, and ineffective for the description of complex behavior.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (book)

I read this book on a whim… you know, the sort of whim that comes with a two-month wait in the hold queue at the library. As someone in a tech-centric occupation in a tech-centric world planning to remain firmly in tech-centered roles, I’m always on the hunt for different philosophies of technology. Newport delivered. The book is a practical summary of how social media and tech companies successfully get more of peoples’ attention than one might be comfortable with and offers practical strategies for limiting the time spent on “low-quality leisure.”

Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper by Jim Pryor (and colleagues) (article)

I really got myself in over my head when I decided that my first-ever formal philosophy course should be a class for upper-level and graduate students with the word advanced in the title. Do I know how to write for philosophy? Not in the slightest. Is learning to write for philosophy making me a better writer in general? Remains to be seen. Am I going to do well on the paper I have due next week? I don’t know.

Revisionist History: Season 4, Episode 7 – Descend into the Particular (podcast)

Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast has been one of my favorites for years now, which feels weird to be saying. It seems like it’s only been a few months since I listened to Season 1, but here we are on Season 4. Episode 7 is the last of a three-part exploration into thinking like a Jesuit, this time exploring a particular instance of gun violence. Listener beware-this episode was heartbreaking.

Scientific research on how to teach critical thinking contradicts education trends by Jill Barshay (article)

As it turns out, trying to teach generalized “critical thinking skills” might be useless. Research suggests that subject-specific knowledge is necessary for critical thinking in a particular domain. Applying concepts from one situation to another doesn’t come naturally; that application has to be taught.

SOMM and SOMM: Into the Bottle (films)

I did not expect the intensity that SOMM brings. How someone can train their mouth to pinpoint the year a wine was made I’ll never understand. How someone can then use that skill under time pressure while being stared at by a handful of the very few experts in your field during the Master Sommelier Exam is even more wild. SOMM: Into the Bottle is even better. It demystifies the professional culture of wine by exploring it both as a product and as an industry. I have very good intentions to watch the third documentary in the series, and have the means to thanks to my local public library’s subscription to Kanopy!

This Twitter Thread by Scott Woods (Tweets)

A lot of white people suck at talking about race. I’m probably one of them. A lot of white people also suck at listening to other people, and then complain that no one is teaching them about race. This thread is about how “whiteness is exactly WHY you can duck out of a conversation on race.”

Various articles about the opioid epidemic (NeuroLaw General Meeting)

The topic for the general meeting of The NeuroLaw Group this month was legal responsibility for the opioid epidemic. We talked about the role of corporations, physicians, and individuals in not just this crisis, but in addiction in general, about policy fixes, about the role of Narcan in the crisis, and about pain as a vital sign.

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