Suggested readings, #61

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Metaphors matter in a time of pandemic. Warfare may be a rousing way to speechify, but it’s perilous when used to describe disasters from hurricanes to viral outbreaks. (Wired)

What near-death experiences reveal about the brain. A close brush can leave a lasting mental legacy—and may tell us about how the mind functions under extreme conditions. (Scientific American)

The evidence for evidence-based therapy is not as clear as we thought. (Aeon)

Zoom fatigue: how to politely decline a call during quarantine. The normal boundaries that once dictated social etiquette have essentially dissolved. So how do you disconnect? (New York Times)

Have We Weaponized Virtue? A review of The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, the Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies, by Robert Boyers. (LA Review of Books)

Infectious diseases and the evolution of viruses. A primer from a philosopher of science. (Auxiliary Hypotheses)

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Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

3 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #61”

  1. Per the LA Review piece, I am reminded of what Doug Henwood has said, that, as a leftist, he doesn’t have “white liberal guilt.” He’s being somewhat hyperbolic, but largely serious.

    I think he (and some black leftists, too), go too far in claiming that racist incidents are **almost always** reduced to classist ones, but I think there’s a fair degree of truth. The class can be the economic side of “socioeconomic,” the sociological side, or both.

    Look at Barack Obama. No, he wasn’t rich in 2005. But, he had a lot teed up for him on the power side within the Illinois State Senate once light bulbs about his potential future started going off in people’s heads.

    Oprah and her money (brief grilling at the Paris store over the Hermes bag several years ago aside) is the same. File hers under either race or sex.

    Or, Ellen DeGeneris, under sex or sexual orientation. There’s plenty of gays and lesbians that have money, class connections or both that I don’t.

    The part on “ableism” is the most interesting. If I … “turn a blind eye” to your complaints about my use of “turning a blind eye,” when does it become egregious? The reviewer apparently lacks the awareness that the disabilities advocate to whom he talked — and the reviewer himself — are making the author’s case. And throwing in a soupçon of patronization on the process.

    (Comment also posted onsite and awaiting moderation approval over there as well.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Warfare is also a bad metaphor on things like the War on Drugs and War on Poverty. That said, per the likes of a George Lakoff, the use of such metaphors is itself a “tell” about the society that creates and indulges them, is it not?


    The SciAm piece is very good, said in part as a former adjunct college instructor who taught a class on issues in death and dying. Side note 1: Without drugs, certain forms of intense meditation can also induce at least some of the physiological effects of an NDE. Side note 2: One Saul of Tarsus, like Dostoyevsky, is believed by many biblical critics and historians engaging in forensic psychology to have had temporal lobe epilepsy. Some suspect that is his self-referenced “thorn in the flesh.”


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