A better ice-bucket challenge

No one can doubt the decency of people who have support the ice-bucket challenge. Michael Specter doesn’t. And yet he asks if there is a better way to combat disease. “Once again, let me stress that I don’t think it is possible to question the good intentions of those who have anted up for A.L.S. But outcomes are another matter.” Yes, again it’s intentions v. consequences.

Precognitive police

“Predictive policing could help prevent crime. But do we want a future where computer oracles and spies track us from birth?” Probably not, according to Henrick Karoliszyn. Consider this scenario: “I am walking down the street and a mobile brain scan looks at my brain along with a picture of a training camp in Afghanistan. If I’ve not been there, I’m sent happily on my way. But if I have, my brain lurches a certain way, I’m taken off the street and carted off to Guantánamo and detained indefinitely as a potential enemy combatant.” Would that be moral?

Outlook: gloomy

Are you an optimistic person always looking on the bright side? Not likely, says Jacob Burak.  But there is a bright side to the fact that we are wired to be gloomy: “In fact, studies show that depressed people may be sadder, but they are also wiser … . This ‘depressive realism’ gives the forlorn a more accurate perception of reality, especially in terms of their own place in the world and their ability to influence events.”

John Rawls: a failproof model for figuring out what is unfair

Good overview of John Rawls’ methods and philosophy.  “Many of us feel that our societies are a little – or even plain totally – ‘unfair’. But we have a hard time explaining our sense of injustice to the powers that be in a way that sounds rational and without personal pique or bitterness. That’s why we need John Rawls (1921-2002), a twentieth-century American philosopher who provides us with a failproof model for identifying what truly might be unfair – and how we might gather support for fixing things.”