In January, news came out that Emory University received a $400 million gift from the Woodruff Foundation. All of it will go to healthcare and research. That’s $100 million more than Michael Bloomberg’s foundation gave to the school of public health at Johns Hopkins in September 2016. Emory’s school of public health is ranked only six spots behind Hopkins’ (no. 1), though it opened relatively recently in 1990. You can sense the energy when you walk into the building and mingle with the 1,300 or so master’s and doctoral students and 168 faculty members.
That part of the campus has an entirely different feel from the side where I teach my classes. The older areas where the liberal arts are housed have a nice, bucolic aspect—a grass quad, lovely but modest marble buildings dating back a century, and professors and students alone and in pairs, laden with books, passing in and out of the library.
First Things has the essay.
Some few courageous souls have not been taken in by Steven Pinker’s version of the Enlightenment. Today, in the New York Times Jennifer Szalai vigorously opposes Pinker’s Panglossian optimism. She is none too impressed by his seductive effort to grant his version of the Enlightenment credit for everything that is right with the world and denigrating the Counter Enlightenment as the cause of everything that is wrong. As Bill Gates, the world’s richest dupe, drools over Pinker’s seductive wiles, Szalai offers us a better, more balanced approach.
As she suggests, Pinker’s theory seems to be: Don’t worry; be happy. You will immediately understand that if you bask in happiness and ignore all dangers, you will run straight into a ditch. You will not see it coming. It will descend upon you like a black swan. After all, writers at the turn of the twentieth century were declaring that humanity had achieved a higher plane of existence, the kind that would end wars and famines and oppression. How did that one work out?
Stuart Schneiderman again, this time with Jennifer Szalai.