Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times

College Education: Combating Dementia and Adding Years to Your Brain?

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In a previous post, I discussed intellectual decline and Cato’s famous essay, “On Old Age,” in which he offers some remedies.  Recent findings by the World Health Organization, indicating that levels of dementia around the world will increase three-fold in the next forty years, especially in developed countries where detection is weak and life expectancy high, warrants a revisiting of this subject.  That is why this article in The New York Times caught my attention; psychologists for the Midlife in the United States project, or MIDUS for short, find that a rigorous college education may delay the brain’s aging by up to a decade.  Read the rest of this entry »


On the Unfortunate Decline of the Idea and the Public Intellectual

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Concomitant with the rise of new forms of mass media are new tools for expressing one’s opinion—on everything, but especially political matters.  Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites and the Internet in general now make it easy to eviscerate traditional media’s role in opinion dissemination and political commentary: to wit, the guardians of quality, allowing for the distinction, as it were, between good art and bad artifice.  To be sure, mass media affords the common American a hitherto unprecedented voice in American politics, not to mention an opportunity to stay informed at a high level, but it also thrusts her into the position of political commentator, whose opinions we value often at a level previously reserved for the public intellectual, the social commentator, or the essayist (a long lost art after George Orwell).  Doubtless, mass media has opened the space for the culture of political “pundits,” operatives, commentators, polling experts, psephologists, and strategists.  Indeed, these individuals inhabit our airwaves, engaging in their pseudo-intellectual vocation, caviling and carping over trifling matters—the tie someone sported and the “message” it either consciously or subconsciously sent, the meaning of an official’s particular gesticulations as she delivered a speech, or the recent “beltway” canards and calumnies—with the constant benefit of infallible hindsight.  While the American polity chugs along with historic problems, one finds these ubiquitous individuals continually missing the forest for the trees. Read the rest of this entry »