Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that we would be better off if we had more conspiracy theories?

What? We are living in a nation that is chronically unsettled and agitated by the proliferation of the darned things, and I think we should have more of them? Well, yes. But first we have to restore meaning and power to that key word: theory. A real theory is a proposition that will not go…

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Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that living people recently acquired a license to compete with ghosts?

This unexpected development was revealed in the New York Times on September 22, 2020, in a quotation from Jim Manley, who worked as an aide to Senator Harry Reid. Describing the context for the process of appointing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s successor, Manley declared: “The ghost of Merrick Garland hangs very heavily over…

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Did Anyone Else Notice . . . that the nation’s pollsters may have recovered too fast from their bout with humility?

In 2016, just a few days after the November election, I had the wild experience of attending the convention of the International Association of Political Consultants. Nearly every speaker confessed to being freaked out by the election results. (None of them used the term “freaked out,” but every one of them manifested the symptoms associated…

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Did Anyone Else Notice . . .that the failure to recruit hundreds of young historians is a major reason why contact tracing has floundered as a means to limit the spread of Covid-19?

Contact tracing—that is, the practice of talking with people who have been diagnosed with the Covid-19 and asking them to identify people who have been in their company—initially seemed very promising. If you could discover a chain of encounters, teams of workers could keep track of exposures and encourage those at risk to limit their…

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