Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire

Has the great American experiment in liberty gone off the rails? Best-selling novelist, public radio host, and acclaimed cultural critic Kurt Andersen tackles that question in his latest book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, due out in September. Get a sneak preview of this provocative chronicle of magical thinking and make-believe that provides a new paradigm for understanding the post-factual present, in which reality and illusion are dangerously blurred.

Kurt Andersen
Jeffrey Goldberg

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. The Aspen Institute

Monday, December 11, 2017

How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, Media Circus

Americans are inherently a little crazy. But now the crazy is being enabled by politicians in the White House and by the internet. How exactly did it get so bad?

How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, Media Circus

| Kurt Andersen


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Americans have always been magical thinkers and passionate believers in the untrue. We were started by the Puritans in New England who wanted to create and did create a Christian utopia and theocracy as they waited for the eminent second coming of Christ and the end of days. And in the south by a bunch of people who were convinced, absolutely convinced that this place they’d never been was full of gold just to be plucked from the dirt in Virginia and they stayed there looking and hoping for gold for 20 years before they finally faced the facts and the evidence and decided that they weren’t going to get rich overnight there. So that was the beginning. And then we’ve had centuries of buyer-beware charlatanism to an extreme degree and medical quackery to an extreme degree and increasingly exotic extravagant implausible religions over and over again from Mormonism to Christian Science to Scientology in the last century.

And we’ve had this antiestablishment "I’m not going to trust the experts, I’m not going to trust the elite" from our character from the beginning. Now all those things came together and were super-charged in the 1960s when you were entitled to your own truth and your own reality. Then a generation later when the Internet came along, giving each of those realities, no matter how false or magical or nutty they are, their own kind of media infrastructure. We had entertainment, again for the last couple hundred years, but especially in the last 50 years permeating all the rest of life, including Presidential politics from John F. Kennedy through Ronald Ragan to Bill Clinton. So the thing was set up for Donald Trump to exploit all these various American threads and astonishingly become president, but then you look at this history and it’s like no we should have seen this coming.

The idea of America from the beginning was that you could come here, reinvent yourself, be anybody you want, live any way you wanted, believe any thing you wanted. For the first few hundred years, like everywhere else in the world, celebrity and fame were a result of some kind of accomplishment or achievement, sometimes not a great accomplishment or achievement, but you did something in the world to earn renown. America really was the key place that invented the modern celebrity culture, which was, beginning a century ago, more and more not necessarily about having won a war or led a people or written a great book or painted a great painting, but about being famous, fame for its own sake.

We created that, we created Hollywood, we created the whole culture industry and that then became what I call the fantasy industrial complex where, certainly in the last few decades more than ever more than anybody thought possible before, fame itself, however you’ve got it, was a primary goal for people. And again, as so many of the things I talk about in Fantasyland, not uniquely to America but more here than anywhere. And then you get reality television, which was this unholy hybrid of the fictional and the real for the last now generation where that blur between what’s real and what’s not is pumped into our media stream willy-nilly. There are now more reality shows on television than there were shows on television 20 years ago. And that’s another way for nobodies to become famous overnight. YouTube, another way for nobodies to become a famous overnight for doing almost nothing or nothing.

8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown: Christmas Special

Sean Lock and Johnny Vegas go up against Jon Richardson and Katherine Ryan, while David O'Doherty joins Susie Dent in the Dictionary Corner. Jimmy Carr hosts and Rachel Riley takes charge of the numbers.

8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown S08E01 Christmas Special (8 December 2015)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

How learning German taught me the link between maths and poetry

In mathematics there are right answers. In poetry there are no wrong ones. Find out how learning a foreign language, especially one that can be as beautifully logical as German, taught World Slam Poetry Slam Champion Harry Baker the two were a lot more linked than he realised.

How learning German taught me the link between maths and poetry | Harry Baker | TEDxVienna

Thursday, December 7, 2017

QI - Kris Kringle

What year was Jesus born? (Answer in show... 34 min.)

Stephen Fry gets into the Christmas spirit with Jo Brand, Brendan O'Carroll, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies.

QI XL K Episode 14 - Kris Kringle

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bible Interpretation: Upside Down

In an upside-down world, with upside-down understandings of morality and of the value of love,... their interpretation of the bible and the debate about its relevance sure sounds familiar, in an upside-down-ish kind of way. [Read on...]

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Listening to a radio discussion from a few years back featuring Richard Dawkins on the morality of the old testament (Premier Christian Radio (UK) "Unbelievable?" program: and what that meant for the value of the bible generally as a source of morality, I was struck by how the bible is so fundamentally muddled within itself, and indeed such a useless source of guidance on matters of morality, that it would be about as much use in a crazy world that valued hatred over love, violence over compassion, and death over life.

Insert the bible into a world where the goal is to cause the maximum misery and suffering to one another, and it fits right in: and the debate sounds almost exactly the same; just... upside down.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ray Comfort meets the Evangelist's Nightmare

Ray Comfort's ministry hits a snag. It's all going so well, when suddenly....

website and blog:


Friday, December 1, 2017

Ozone Therapy Debunked – Part 1

Even before its structure was known, ozone was, and still is to this day, used as a water and air steriliser, as well as a surface disinfectant. It has also been used in the past as a way of disinfecting wounds, but as technology has advanced, coupled with the fact that ozone is quite toxic, it fell out of favour.

Now, like so many redundant medical practices, it has been adopted by the alternative medicine crowd where its proponents are promoting it as a panacea that has the ability to cure, among other things, cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.

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The TSA's 12 Banned Items of Christmas

As travelers board planes this holiday, please be aware of 12 actual banned items from the Transportation Security Administration.

Approximately 3:51.

Written and performed by Justin Monticello.

Shot and edited by Paul Detrick. Visit for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.
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