Monthly Archives: September 2011

The real Socrates


According to Adam Kirsch

There’s no reason to think that Xenophon’s dull moralist or Aristophanes’s comic foil is closer to the real Socrates than Plato’s philosopher — rather the contrary, since Plato was the closest to Socrates of any of them. But the three portraits are a reminder that we have no direct access to the real Socrates, whoever he was. We have only interpretations and texts, which both reveal and conceal


But it has always been a matter of debate whether the Socrates Plato writes about is a faithful reflection of the man who walked the streets of Athens. Certainly in the middle and later Platonic dialogues, Socrates seems to become more a mouthpiece for Plato’s own elaborate metaphysical doctrines than the straightforward “gadfly” of the early dialogues.

History is marbled through with fiction and distortion. For example, according to Dalya Alberge

He was a 19th-century explorer who risked his life to unearth a great secret – the source of the White Nile, a mystery since Alexander the Great first posed the question. But new research reveals that John Hanning Speke’s place in history was eclipsed by a jealous, charismatic rival, who stole the limelight by convincing others Speke was an unscrupulous, disloyal man devoid of emotion.

Previously unpublished documents cast fresh light on Speke, showing he was very different to the character portrayed by Sir Richard Burton, his travelling companion, whose denigrating image has long been accepted by historians.

Tim Jeal, author of a new book Explorers of the Nile, has unearthed evidence that has convinced him Speke’s achievements were “diminished by what a very skilful, clever but ultimately cynical person had done to him”.

Entertainment is a disease


According to Melissa and Malakai

Entertainment is a disease that infects the sense organs, then eats away at the brain leading to lack of activity, often resulting in a boring life.

Entertainment is a trance, handing over the steering wheel of your mind. TV is an obvious offender, but, don’t kid yourself, escapist reading (web, books, magazines) is just as powerful a life drainer. Likewise, gambling, videogames, pornography, alcohol and other drugs.

If you avoided any and all entertainment, your life would surely change.

US and India are intermediate-fertility countries


It takes a long time to stop a demographic supertanker, so China’s population, despite the one-child policy, has still not peaked. When it finally does so in 2025, India’s population will have already exceeded China’s, and may eventually peak at 1.7 billion.

Yet India is only an intermediate-fertility country, not a high-fertility country like Pakistan or Nigeria.

It may surprise that the USA is also an intermediate-fertility country, as defined by the UN. The largest of them, in descending order of population size, are

  • India
  • USA
  • Indonesia
  • Bangladesh
  • Mexico
  • Egypt

See also “US population projected to grow to 439 million by 2050“.

Parent licenses


According to Hank Pellissier

I’ve compiled below about twenty ways that IQ is impacted in its neonatal and natal delivery stages, plus two futuristic options that could further enhance the newborn’s cognition. Examine the factors carefully and you’ll discover multiple ways you can biggie-up the brains of the next generation.

Regarding “parent licenses”, he writes

If it’s illegal to smash a person’s head against a wall, subjecting them to brain damage, why isn’t it illegal to flood the noggin of a fetus with elements that cripple cognition?