From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
A sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 classic sci-fi "Blade Runner" has finally been assigned a release date in early 2018. The movie will be directed by Denis Villeneuve (most recently, "Sicario" and "Enemy"). But - who should score the new film? FACT Magazine presents who they would want to hear soundtracking Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford’s adventures with the replicants. [more inside]
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - "The book delivers on its madly ambitious subtitle by in fact managing to cover key moments in the developmental history of humankind from the emergence of Homo Sapiens to today's developments in genetic engineering." Also btw, check out Harari on the myths we need to survive, re: fact/value distinctions and their interrelationships.
10 Theories About How Lesbians Have Sex From Straight People In History (Carolyn Yates, AutoStraddle)
FACT mag's 100 Best Albums of the 1980s. Inspired, sometimes surprising selections slightly off the beaten path: Whodini, Whitehouse, Suzanne Ciani, Nurse With Wound, and Godflesh while no Talking Heads, R.E.M., or Clash. Complete with free downloadable mixes guaranteed to make you shake your ass like a dork at work. [more inside]
The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
(reload page for new facts)
(reload page for new facts)
On September 24th Radiolab posted a new episode, The Fact of the Matter. It included a segment titled Yellow Rain. Radiolab's website says that it's "a detective story from the Cold War, about a mysterious substance that fell from the sky in Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam war." Robert Krulwich's interview with two of the segment's guests has prompted outrage at his treatment of them. One of the guests, writer Kao Kalia Yang, talked with Hyphen Magazine.
SurfTheChannel.com: A Very British Miscarriage Of Justice is a [long - here's an Ars Technica summary] account of the MPAA's investigation of SurfTheChannel's owner Anton Vickerman and the ensuing court case. It was published on http://surfthechannel.com/, but that's now down and given English libel law it probably isn't coming back up. It is, frankly, a harrowing read, although FACT argue to the Guardian that much of what was stated is biased.
In 1973 and 1975, two one-hour television documentaries aired in the US: In Search of Ancient Astronauts (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and In Search of Ancient Mysteries (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The same producers also put out The Outer Space Connection (Parts 1 and 2) in 1975. All were narrated by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling. In 1976 a series was developed. Since Serling had passed away in 1975, popular actor Leonard Nimoy was chosen as host. In Search of... ran for six seasons, from 1976 - 1982, and was devoted to discussing unusual mysteries and phenomena. All 144 episodes can be seen on YouTube. Playlists: Seasons 1 and 2. Seasons 3 and 4. Seasons 5 and 6.
Katherine Goldstein writes about working as a fact checker for Cosmopolitan.
often using “truth-based” information — to borrow from the vernacular of the military specialists who deal in the manipulation of words and images — as a substitute for truth.
Their view is that psyops can be directed toward global transregional audiences. My view is that that’s not possible because it directs psyops against our own friends and allies and even at our own public. ... In Mind Games, Columbia Journalism Review thoroughly examines the disintegrating lines between Public Affairs, Psy-Ops, IO, the public, and the truth. Some old friends are mentioned too: the Lincoln Group, the Rendon Group, the Pentagon, our own media, and others. If truth is our greatest weapon, as Rumsfeld has said, how can the administration hope to prevail in an information war when it is not honest with itself?