Week 3 (Sep.18-22)

Our week began with the CBC documentary film Conspiracy Rising.  We talked about the concept of conspiracy theories and how the tendency of people to accept conspiracy thinking reveals certain intellectual attributes, in particular pattern recognition and confirmation bias.  Since so many of our beliefs seem to be formed by society, culture, intuition, and personal preference, what good is reason? What role can (and should) rationality play in our lives?

We then began our study of Joel Achenbach’s superb essay “The War on Science.”  Published in National Geographic in 2015, the essay explores the tensions that exist between contemporary science and conspiratorial thinking.

The essay raised a number of important literary concepts, including persuasive writing, statistical evidence, analogy, and the nature of rational argument.
science photo

Our discussion about gender and culture expanded to Afghanistan as we considered the 101 East episode “No Country for Women”.  We talked about religion, tribalism, and fundamentalism.

This week we began reading Mitch Albom’s 1997 memoir Tuesdays with MorrieTo start the conversation, we discussed the ways people try to find meaning in life and how they attempt to cope with mortality.  We also discussed memoir as a narrative literary form, and outlined the basic structure of Tuesdays with Morrie, with Albom’s use of flashbacks and interludes.


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