Home Columns Books Papers Biography Contact

"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  

December 2020

America?s Founding Principles


Last week, this column focused on the role of a common shared culture in the history of nations. Countries without a shared culture (language, religion, history and myths), cannot survive for long. Empires, in which many nations or peoples are ruled centrally, such as the Persian and Roman empires, certainly made life better for their subjects. Trade flourished, peace was guaranteed, and as long as the emperors were not monsters, nobody objected. Inevitably, corruption replaced good rule more...

Print

Pardon Me. Trump?s Gambit.


Most scholars argue that presidents cannot pardon themselves. More to the point, even if they did, such a move would be incredibly risky and likely to ignite a constitutional crisis in the United States.

Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in The Washington Post:

"Such an act would make the White House look like the Bada Bing Club. After a self-pardon, Trump could wipe out the Islamic State, trigger an e more...

Print

Empathy: Nature or Nurture?

"Empathy" has been much in the news lately, largely because of a presidential issue: living with a leader with no empathy. We rarely have to think about the presence or lack of empathy because most human beings have empathy to one degree or another. Empathy is the ability to imagine the feelings or pain of another human being.

Philosophers have long debated the nature of human behavior, wondering how much behavior is hard wired (Nature) in our genes and how much is shaped by our n more...

Print

Empathy: Nature or Nurture?


"Empathy" has been much in the news lately, largely because of a presidential issue: living with a leader with no empathy. We rarely have to think about the presence or lack of empathy because most human beings have empathy to one degree or another. Empathy is the ability to imagine the feelings or pain of another human being.

Philosophers have long debated the nature of human behavior, wondering how much behavior is hard wired (Nature) in our genes and how much is shaped more...

Print

August 2020

Democracy Requires Integrity and Honor


Our Founding Fathers envisioned a system of governance based on division of powers and rule of law. The consent of the governed was to be by election of qualified voters: initially, White men who had some property.

The assumption was that men with property would have skin in the game, be literate, pragmatic, and thoughtful. Another assumption was that voters would want their officials to be men of "honor," but the founders knew that honorable men would not always use thei more...

Print

Refusing Oversight

Our Founding Fathers knew that leaders would not always be honorable, honest, or uncorrupt. Our system is designed with divided power centers: administration (President), congress, and judiciary. It has worked over our two and a half centuries, sometimes better than other times. We have had corrupt governments every so often, usually outed by the press or good civil servants, but for the most part, by presidents following the norms of transparency.

We have learned that the best di more...

Print

The Crisis in Leadership

Human beings are herd animals. We are communal, which is key to our survival. But unlike the majority of other sentient animals, the herd instinct is tempered by our capacity for reason. There are human beings who live alone, but this is rare and hermits depend upon good people looking out for them. Herds require leadership: alpha males or females. Anarchists do not survive for long because they have no leadership.

A recent film documented how a sled-team of Huskies survived aban more...

Print

Too Much Democracy

Our country was designed as a republic, meaning representative government, not a democracy. The few democracies in world history never survived for long. Athens, which invented the system of public voting of all eligible citizens, was soon weakened by some very foolish ventures that seemed popular at the time. Renaissance Venice suffered the same fate, as did Renaissance Poland. Too many cooks, it seems, spoil the broth.

Our founders created a limited Republic, requiring the vote more...

Print