Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton

In a radio interview, Tracy Kidder, who’s written quite a few good books and at least one important one, advocated for a sort of Maxwell’s demon approach to book reading. He claimed to divide books into two main categories: books in which he has interest and books in which he does not. He went on …

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Already There

One of the difficulties of diagnosing contemporary US culture is that we lack perspective. Here’s a helpful ichthyological fable I heard somewhere: Two young little fish are swimming around and they come across a big older fish who asks, “How’s the water, boys?” The little guys are unsure of how to respond and they swim …

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Christening a New Fallacy

If you’re a teacher of rhetoric, as I am, one of the skills you’d like your students to have is the ability to identify an argumentative fallacy so they can critique other arguments and also avoid fallacies in their own writing. There’s a standard list of fallacies you can use, and our culture seems to …

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Fighting Fire With Arson: A Response to Yale Professor Robert J. Schiller’s misguided but not unexpected piece on the housing bubble, titled “Infectious Exuberance” and appearing in the July/August 2008 Atlantic.

Shiller believes our two recent “epidemics of financial optimism” (the dot-com and real estate bubbles) could be followed by a more disastrous financial epidemic if “irrational pessimism and mistrust” manage to spread from the lips and fingertips of sourpuss chicken-little financial pundits to the wider population. According to the author this third epidemic is easily …

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