Articles from War in Context

News and the forgotten value of waiting

If someone wanted to create a parody of cable news, it would be hard to satirize the form more effectively than to cast Wolf Blitzer as the lead character in a goofy show called The Situation Room, where all news all the time is breaking news. The irony of the fact that CNN’s news show […]

A history of hype behind Cambridge Analytica

Nigel Oakes, the founder of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, once described his work in this way: “We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler. We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level.” As an Old Etonian, his ties to royalty, the aristocracy, and […]

Facebook employees feel increasingly responsible for the world’s problems

At an all-hands meeting for Facebook employees at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg didn’t show up. Fielding questions for just 30 minutes was the company’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal. In its dealings with Cambridge Analytica, Facebook had not acted improperly, he insisted. But as […]

The ancient hunt in which the tracker’s skill united reason and imagination

“The San people of the Kalahari desert are the last tribe on Earth to use what some believe to be the most ancient hunting technique of all: the persistence hunt; they run down their prey,” says David Attenborough:   “The hunter pays tribute to his quarry’s courage and strength. With ceremonial gestures that ensure that […]

Novichok chemical attack near Porton Down fed catnip to conspiracy theorists

Vladimir Putin has long understood that Russia can easily exploit the cynicism that permeates political perceptions across the West. The use of the Soviet chemical weapon, Novichok, in close proximity to the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, hardly seems coincidental. It accomplished two things: 1. By deploying this agent so close […]

The depletion of the human microbiome and how it can be restored

Tobias Rees and Nils Gilman write: It is a crisis some scientists believe has similar proportions to climate change, but it gets much less coverage: Microbes are disappearing from our bodies. You may have heard that trillions of microbes — bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists — live on every surface of your body as well as […]

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Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?

Frans de Waal asks: are we smart enough to know how smart animals are? Just as attitudes of superiority within segments of human culture are often expressions of ignorance, humans collectively — especially when subject to the dislocating effects of technological dependence — tend to underestimate the levels of awareness and cognitive skills of creatures […]

The immobilization of life on Earth

One of the defining characteristics of life is movement, be that in the form of locomotion or simply growth. What is inanimate is not alive and yet humans, through the use of technology, are constantly seeking ways to reduce the need to move our own limbs. We have set ourselves on a trajectory that, if […]

Quinn Norton and the New York Times’ short-lived courage

How fascism is coming to America: It’s happening when people decide the ideal society is one where everyone thinks the same way. And it’s happening when people who know better, kowtow to the dictates of social media instead of doing the right thing. I didn’t know the New York Times hired Quinn Norton until I […]

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