Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

Archive for 2023

The History of Philosophy

The History of Philosophy by A.C. Grayling is a book about authors – to be sure, they are virtually all dead, white men (Grayling offers all of 13 pages out of the 585 in this volume on feminist or African philosophers) . What stands out about these men is not that they thought deeply but… (read more)

World trade: four years later

I first started tracking the main flows of world trade in 2015. Following up in 2018, there were subtle changes in the export of goods from twenty of the largest economies. In today’s post, we will look at the initial effects of the trade deals and conflicts discussed in 2018 and the early impacts of… (read more)

Empathy is a state of mind

Previously, I introduced Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave and the sections of our brain associated with certain thought patterns. The brain is relevant in how we prosecute criminals, vote for politicians and feel empathy for others. Again, nothing that shows up on a brain scanner excuses or explains our actions in these contexts but it does… (read more)

Foreign interference: Keeping governments out of Canadian elections

The likelihood of the Chinese government determining the outcome of a Canadian election or even an important policy decision is quite slim. However, the reporting by the Globe and Mail and other outlets this past year suggests that they are trying. The means for doing this involve political contributions, community connections, threats and social media… (read more)

Behave: Neurobiology in the real world

In his 2017 book, Behave, Robert Sapolsky takes us on a tour of the human brain and illuminates who we are as a species, as a community and as moral beings. He makes it clear that the morality of any behaviour, whether violent or gentle, is mostly a matter of context. Still, we all have… (read more)

A peace treaty with Nature?

On December 20, 2022, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was agreed to by 196 countries. The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called it “a peace pact with nature”. As we have discussed elsewhere on this blog, biodiversity is the variety of life around us and an important key to our happiness. I would… (read more)

After the storm: Canadian healthcare after the pandemic

I remember watching the TV in the hospital visiting room on my last shift as a volunteer before the pandemic. The news was all about Covid. It was clear that the risks had become too great for non-professionals like me. The nurses, doctors and patients would have little choice in the months and years ahead…. (read more)