Robin Hanson on Variolation as a Response to COVID-19

Economist and iconoclast Robin Hanson suggests that variolation—controlled, intentional infection of the virus that causes COVID-19—could be an important “Plan B” if the test-trace-isolate strategy fails and especially if eventual herd immunity seems likely. Note that this involves a controlled test first, doctor supervision, and careful screening. This is the Self in Society Podcast #15 (see more). Also listen to this podcast via iTunes.

Hanson wrote an April 6 article on the topic (see his web page for additional entries on the topic). I also want to draw readers’ attention to a first and second article by Daniel Tillett. His idea is to find a naturally less-harmful strain of the coronavirus for use in inoculation, which could radically reduce risks. See also my article, “Why not consider controlled, intentional infection?” For more discussion of this topic (and more) see my “COVID-19 Resources” page.

Kevin Currie-Knight on Crisis Schooling Versus Homeschooling

Kevin Currie-Knight, professor of education at East Carolina University and president of the board of New Pathfinder Community School, warns against equating the home “crisis schooling” curing the COVID-19 epidemic with homeschooling as families practice it in normal times. He offers some qualified suggestions for families in which students who usually attend a traditional school now must learn at home. To families thinking about homeschooling, this wide-ranging conversation will remain relevant long after the coronavirus crisis has passed. This is the Self in Society Podcast episode #14.

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Bryan Alvarez on the COVID-19 Crisis

Dr. Bryan Alvarez, now in private practice after serving as the Public Health Director of the United States Northern Command from 2016–2019, discusses the problems and promise of testing our way out of the coronavirus crisis. He also talks about the process of bringing antiviral drugs and vaccines online, as well as the broader problem of emergency preparedness. This was recorded March 27 as the Self in Society Podcast #13.

Listen to the eplisode via iTunes. See also my “COVID-19 Resources” page and the Self in Society Podcast page.

Steven Horwitz on Hayek and the Family: Self in Society #12

Economist Steven Horwitz, author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions, offers a classical liberal theory of the family grounded in the works of Friedrich Hayek. Unlike conservatives, who tend to glorify a tradition-bound model of the family, and Progressives, who sometimes denigrate the family, Horwitz offers a vision of the family as a dynamic and evolving social institution that plays a crucial role in people’s lives.

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Pamela Clare on Romance Fiction: Self in Society #11

Pamela Clare is a gun-toting Rush fan—and Boulder Progressive Democrat—who writes romantic fiction. She almost died in a mountain fall and had to be helicoptered out. She got death threats while working as an investigative journalist and had to tell one gun-waving disgruntled reader to get the f*** out of her office. She put her degree in classics to use in her historical romance novels before going on to write about rangers, firefighters, rock climbers, journalists, and other spirited characters.

Pamela and I sat down to discuss her writing, the genre, problems within Romance Writers of America, the business side of fiction, her experiences as a journalist, the allure of Colorado’s wilderness, her views on firearms, and the music that inspires her.

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See Pamela Clare’s web site for a list of her novels.

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Melvin Konner on Religious Belief: Self in Society #10

Anthropologist Melvin Konner, author of Believers: Faith in Human Nature, explains the persistence of religious belief in the face of atheistic criticisms. Konner discusses his religious background and his path to a study of biological anthropology, including his work with the !Kung people in Botswana. Konner also challenges the New Atheists’ insistence that humanity can and should do away with religion.

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Kevin Currie-Knight on Self-Directed Education: Self in Society #9

Kevin Currie-Knight—professor of education at East Carolina University, author of Education in the Marketplace, and president of the board of New Pathfinder Community School—discusses self-directed education and answers various objections to it.

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Jason Crawford on the Roots of Progress: Self in Society #8

Jason Crawford, entrepreneur and author of the Roots of Progress blog, discusses what progress is, where it comes from, and how it vastly betters our lives. In the process, he highlights key industrial and technological innovations, explains the errors of Malthus, and discusses how we can keep progress alive.

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John Coffey on Religious Toleration: Self in Society #7

Historian John Coffey discusses his book, Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1558–1689, and its lessons for today. Coffey reviews the establishment of the Anglican church and the tensions between that church and both the Catholics and the Puritans, tensions that often erupted into state-sponsored violence. Coffee also discusses the theological and political disputes over toleration in this era.

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Lawrence Goldstone on the Death and Legacy of Michael Servetus: Self in Society #6

In Out of the Flames, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone recount the remarkable life and shocking death of Michael Servetus, theologian, editor, physician, and heretic. Lawrence discusses Servetus’s religious views and his lifelong rivalry with John Calvin, who eventually had him tried for heresy and burned at the stake in Geneva in 1553. But Servetus’s work escaped the flames to inspire generations of scientists, religious reformers, and advocates of liberty of conscience.

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