Death, Physics and Wishful Thinking

Fear of mortality might underlie physicists’ fondness for the anthropic principle, multiverses, superdeterminism and other shaky ideas By John Horgan  Our quirky minds thwart psychologists’ efforts to find durable theories. But terror-management theory has held up quite well since three psychologists proposed it more than 30 years ago. It holds that fear of death underpins many of our actions and convictions. We cling to our beliefs more tightly when reminded of our mortality, especially if those beliefs connect us to something transcending our puny mortal selves. Terror-management theory can account for puzzling political trends, such as our attraction to outlandish conspiracies and authoritarian leaders. … Continue reading Death, Physics and Wishful Thinking

What is ‘the West’?

While the West belonged to a European geography, its name meant something. Now it is a vague invocation, laden with fear Faisal Devji is professor of Indian history and fellow of St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford, where he is also the director of the Asian Studies Centre. His latest book is Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea (2013). Edited bySam Haselby When asked what he thought of Western civilisation, Gandhi apparently responded that he thought it would be a good idea. While this celebrated statement is taken to be an ironic dismissal, Gandhi had in fact given the … Continue reading What is ‘the West’?