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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

June 2018

Why Conspiracy Theories Flourish


People "believe" many things, some that they see themselves, some learned from parents and teachers, and some that they accept "on faith" (literal religious beliefs). Before people learn critical thinking, a process of questioning what they hear as to the source, credibility, and consistency, many people automatically distrust information from their leaders. They suspect that all official information is propaganda designed to fool them.

We must give credit to the first anc more...

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Census taking outside of the US


A major tool of modern life is gathering, publishing, and using information that can help a government to do its job. In the US, we are accustomed to providing census-takers with information about ourselves every decade as mandated in our constitution. We need to know how many of us live here (citizens or not), their ages, and general and special needs. Our numbers determine how many representatives will be warranted in the House of Representatives. Democracy depends on it. The Senate do more...

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Russia?s Disinformation Campaign


Last week, we reviewed Russia?s long-term foreign policy, a policy that is a reflection of its historic vulnerability and weakness. This time, we will examine Russia?s long-term use of disinformation and discord. They have turned to this policy because it is inexpensive and can divide democratic societies without firing a shot. It is effective because so many people in our liberal democracies (rule of law) are not willing to think things through; it is easier to latch onto a source of in more...

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It Is Just a Little Headscarf

In 1978, Pakistan?s newly elected president, Zia ul Huq, transformed his country from an aspiring secular republic to an oppressive Islamic state. A whole category of new laws was passed oppressing women (Zina Laws). It required two women testifying in court to equal one man, and rape went unpunished for men unless four pious men testified to witnessing it. Women who claimed rape were arrested for prostitution. And Hijab (Muslim modesty imposed only on women) saw the return of not only headscarv more...

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Thirteen Russians Indicted for Election Meddling



For several years now, we have heard about Information Warfare, a new way of fighting enemy countries. This method is as much of an "equalizer" as was the invention of firearms in the late middle age, which gave even a weak man lethality equivalent to a talented swordsman. Keen observers have always warned us that great new inventions can have terrible consequences. Although it is wonderful to have information so available to everyone, regardless of power and wealth, it is not wo more...

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Fake News and Conspiracy Theories


History is full of examples of misinformation being broadly believed by the gullible. There were no newspapers or other media during the middle ages. People learned the news from town criers, priests in the churches, and edicts from rulers. Aside from that, the rumor mills were alive and well, and the superstitious believed anything.

The first Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in 1095, a call to arms in response to the Muslim takeover of the Holy Land, barring and perse more...

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July 2017

Humor Can Bring Down a State

One characteristic of nasty governments?theocracies, dictatorships, and authoritarian monarchies is that they have no sense of humor. The one thing that can put a frightening government on the defensive is to know that their subjects are laughing at them.

In Jacques Barzun?s final book, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present (Harper Collins, 2000), he tracks the fall of the French monarchy and the French Revolution to the point where the French elites had no fear of makin more...

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