Go Read Merchants of Doubt

25/06/2020

Merchants of Doubt, a 2010 book written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, is a must read. As one of the testimonies on the cover of my copy says, if there is one nonfiction book you read this year, it is the one to go for (obviously try to read more than one, but make Merchants of Doubt a priority). It follows a number of stories that mar the history of scientific progress by telling them from the perspectives of actors we often don’t hear from in the modern “debates”: the scientists themselves.

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Report Truth, Not Views

23/05/2020

The idea of journalism being an adversarial “pillar of democracy” is laughable, as I have written a few times on this site before. One of the books I am reading at the moment, Merchants of Doubt, provides examples of how the “fairness” and “balance” aspects of journalism, however desirable in theory, are corrupt and abused in practice. As “conservative intellectuals” of the Internet age love to say, facts don’t care about your feelings, folks.

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Invoking 1984: Chomsky and Silber

27/04/2020

I always enjoy it when people turn to George Orwell’s 1984 in a debate. It must just be the interviews and videos I stumble across, but in a fair number of them they do so from a position of ignorance about Orwell himself and/or in a way to smear their opposition despite them being the founts of questionable information. Words have always been louder than actions in “democracies”.

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David Hannan’s Arguments Against Socialism

12/04/2020

I have recently stumbled into a few videos online with pro-capitalist arguments, decrying socialist ideas and encouraging free markets to take full form. The one thing I have found listening to them, whether their arguments have any legitimate points within, is their selective examples and, at times, complete disfiguration of facts. One such video was an argument about why socialism did not work by a man (who I know nothing about beyond this) called Daniel Hannan. I haven’t written in a while, so what better way to get back into it than by questioning this random guy’s points?

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My 2019 Reading List

31/12/2019

Admittedly, I thought I had read more books than the ones on this list, but alas it is much smaller than anticipated when I compiled it. I wasn’t expecting anything huge, and 16 books is still a reasonable feat, in my view, but I can’t help but feel a tinge of disappointment that I didn’t get through more. I would, however, suggest that finishing university and keeping up with news events and analysis probably makes up for that. Nevertheless, these are the books I read this past year, with a few thoughts looking back on them and links to piece that refer to them.

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Biases in Journalism and in History

28/12/2019

I have written before about E. H. Carr’s ideas of the “historian and his facts”, of how history can never be “objective” because there are always things that will influence even the most aware observers. I would put forward that this concept also applies to journalists, who are, in a sense, historians of the moment in which they report.

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Media Hasn’t Really Changed: Colonial Tasmania

28/12/2019

I am currently reading The Vandemonian War by Nick Brodie. As always, when I learn more about Australia’s history involving the Indigenous peoples, I grow more and more disappointed with the shallow understanding that our education system throws at countless disinterested students. But I’ve written about that already, and there was a small point Brodie made about the press coverage that made me chuckle – rather cynically – at the parallels to today.

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Rethinking Camelot: A Reflection

02/12/2019

Interpretation of Historical Fact

Camelot is the myth that surrounds John F. Kennedy, the hero of the American people during a Presidency cut too short by a malicious assassination that changed America’s and the world’s future forever, specifically in relation to Vietnam and the Cold War. This myth, still peddled by many today, perhaps more so given the growing years between us and the events that took place, is nothing more than that – a collation of numerous accounts that all rely on a complete dismissal of fact.

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What School History Doesn’t Teach: The Vietnam War

29/11/2019

I never took modern history in high school, but from what we were taught in the junior years and from what friends who did take that subject told me, what we learned was an extremely watered down and pretty much propagandistically pro-West depiction. I can’t speak for the US education system, but I can only assume that US exceptionalism is a fundamental part of any history taught in school. There are a few examples one could use, but the Vietnam War is probably the most damning.

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Reflecting on Old Reflections: Lenin and the Russian Revolution

23/11/2019

Earlier this year, I read Lenin and the Russian Revolution by Christopher Hill, which was a rather old and small book that is very much an introduction to the revolution and to Lenin himself. At the time I also wrote a couple of pieces on my thoughts about it, thoughts which, with further reading and understanding, are worth revisiting in an exercise of revision. While the general thrust of each of the pieces is still solid, my view of Lenin has changed drastically – for the worse.

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