Technology’s Spillover Effect

It should be obvious that technology has profound effects on human belief and behavior, but it isn’t. We talk all the time about changing social trends, shifts in cultural beliefs, and developments in human sexuality, but we often look to other cultural influences to explain them. Why did the West come to value property rights and religious freedom? The Enlightenment, of course. Well, yes. But would there have been an Enlightenment without important technological changes like movable type or the successes of certain scientific discoveries? Doubtful. Important technological changes influenced the thought and behavior of people, which in turn, produced the cultural conditions for the Enlightenment. The technological changes that preceded the Enlightenment were already doing the job of closing down the medieval worldview and opening people’s minds to empirical science, free inquiry, and human reason. Technological change gave birth to the Enlightenment. Continue reading

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On Microaggression, Safe Spaces, and Trigger Warnings: The Luxury of Running Out of Problems

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You might think that when today’s college students call for “safe spaces”, “trigger warnings”, and protection from “microaggressions”, that we’ve crossed a kind of cultural threshold and entered new territory for what counts as social justice. The demands of today’s college students, however, have a longer pedigree than you might think. For example, in 1789, at Princeton University (then, College of New Jersey), student body president, William Henry Bancroft, organized a student protest calling for “the headmasters and chancellors to acknowledge summarily the special appanage enjoyed by the white man and, in recognition of his acts of oppression, to grant the creation of impregnable safe havens for any antagonized descendants of those who suffered heinous injustice under the heavy hand of European colonization.” Sound familiar? Continue reading

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TECHNOLOGICAL EDEN AND ITS CULTURAL FRUIT: How We Traded a Harsh Life for Gay Marriage, Gender Fluidity, Divorce, and Childlessness

A friend of mine is decidedly against having children. I once asked him what, in terms of social function, was the difference between him and his wife as a couple and and a monogamous homosexual couple? He couldn’t come up with anything, and I can see why.

It’s hard to say much of substance when it comes to a difference in how they conduct themselves within society as a couple. Neither produce children. Both are monogamous. Both provide support to the parties of the relationship. All else equal, nearly every occupation can be performed as well by each of the four of them. It’s difficult to identify much of substance qua childless heterosexuals and qua monogamous homosexuals preventing them from making equal contributions to the world. Continue reading

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