The Shock Doctrine is a documentary adaptation from 2009 of Naomi Klein‘s book with the same title from 2007. It makes for a nice companion post to the previous post on Kissinger, as well as documentaries by Adam Curtis mentioned in earlier posts, which also touched on the work of Ewen Cameron.
The book argues that the free market policies of Milton Friedman (a Nobel laureate like Kissinger) have risen to prominence in some countries because they were pushed through while the citizens were reacting to disasters or upheavals. It is implied that some man-made crises, such as the Falklands war (or the Iraq war), may have been created with the intention of being able to push through these unpopular reforms in their wake. With regards to the time line, the documentary ends with the financial crisis of 2008 and the election of Barack Obama.
Speakers that are featured include Chomsky, Howard Zinn (historian), Sharon Smith (historian), John Stauber (PR Watch), Peter Phillips (Project Censored), Richard Conniff (A Natural History of the Rich), Graeme MacQueen (Center for Peace Studies), Christopher Simpson (The Science of Coercion), Morris Berman (Dark Ages America), Michael Parenti (historian), William I. Robinson (Critical Globalization Studies), John Manley (historian), Peter Linebaugh (historian), Stephen M. Sachs (Remembering the Circle), and Sut Jhally (Media Education Foundation).
Richard H. Thaler, Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, is the father of Behavioral Economics. In preparation for a new book he asked EDGE contributors to answer this question:
The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?
As of today, there are 61 responses which make for fascinating reading on how science has corrected itself and our views of nature.
Topics (with comments on both bad and correct science or beliefs) include: plate tectonics, cosmic inflation, prions, quantum entanglement, the force of gravity, the great chain of being, bird intelligence, the four humours of human physiology, luminiferous aether, bad air disease theory, Peripatetic Mechanics of Aristotle, stress theory of ulcers, intelligent design/creationism, the age of the Earth, cell regeneration, spontaneous generation of life, vitalism, unifunctional components of the brain, security by obscurity, whales as fishes, group selection, unilinear cultural evolution, static universe, Lamarckism, nature/nurture, the existence of a vacuum, the human brain vs. the heart, and more…
In addition there’s a lecture on YouTube he gave at Boston University for The Institute for Human Sciences in 2007:
Slovenian-born Slavoj Žižek, a postmodern philosopher and cultural critic, addresses perception, identity, and the “other” in an engaging lecture titled Fear Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Antinomies of Tolerant Reason. The lecture takes the audience on an enlightening journey through the perceptions of identity and tolerance.
And finally there’s a program by the Dutch broadcaster VPRO on Žižek called Living in the End Times According to Slavoj Žižek:
Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, aka The Elvis of cultural theory, is given the floor to show of his polemic style and whirlwind-like performance. The Giant of Ljubljana is bombarded with clips of popular media images and quotes by modern-day thinkers revolving around four major issues: the economical crisis, environment, Afghanistan and the end of democracy. Žižek grabs the opportunity to ruthlessly criticize modern capitalism and to give his view on our common future.
We communists are back! is the closing remark of Slavoj Žižek’s provocative performance. Our current capitalist system, that everyone believed would be smoothly spread around the globe, is untenable. We find ourselves on the brink of big problems that call for big solutions. Whatever is left of the left, has been hedged in by western liberal democracy and seems to lack the energy to come up with radical solutions. Not Žižek.
A TED talk by Laurie Santos who studies primate psychology and looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in “monkeynomics”, problems in human psychology tested on primates, shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too. As such, monkeys have many of the same predictable irrationalities as we do.
Professor Laurie Santos led a discussion at TildeCafé called “The Origins of Irrationality” on January 23, 2010 (as a 9-part playlist below):
Finally, an interview with her from June 2010 can be found at Big Think:
At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
In this clear-sighted book, Matt Ridley demonstrates that the world is getting better, and at an accelerating rate: food, income and lifespan are up; disease, child mortality and violence are down?all across the globe. Necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing down; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the internet and the mobile phone are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for 200 years.
This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the stone age to the internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the unlikely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that, thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity greatly improved.
George Monbiot has written a series of criticisms of the book for The Guardian to which Ridley in turn has replied. SeeMonbiot’sblog.
The Gulf oil spill dwarfs comprehension, but we know this much: it’s bad. Carl Safina scrapes out the facts in this blood-boiling cross-examination, arguing that the consequences will stretch far beyond the Gulf — and many so-called solutions are making the situation worse.
Alan Cross, host of The Ongoing History of New Music and curator of ExploreMusic, provides a engaging TED Talk on the state of the music industry and the revolution it is going through (29m 18s). He looks at the following aspects of that industry (and especially from a Canadian perspective):