For A Good Time (a) On The ‘Tubes And (b) In Boston (Cambridge)

Just a quick alert for BJ internet radio devotees:  I’ll be talking with Seth Mnookin on my monthly Virtually Speaking Science gig this Wednesday evening at 9 p.m.  If you want to see me taller, thinner, and much better dressed than I ever am in meatspace, you can check out the Second Life venue for the talk: http://slurl.com/secondlife/StellaNova/67/212/31

We’ll be talking about Seth’s book, The Panic Virus — and from there go into a conversation about bad science, whether we can get a civic conversation informed by (good) scientific reasoning, and how new media may help (or not) realize that hope.  It should be interesting — Seth has spent quite a while now diving deep into the sad and strange world of anti-vaccine advocates, and he comes back with important insights.

Perhaps most significant:  people who believe impossible things are not (mostly) crazy.  It’s just that for many the alternatives present intolerable costs.  That’s easy enough to understand when faced with the fact of a severely autistic child, but I think the mental and emotional moves involved play out in lots of places, not least our politics.  I’ll find out on Wednesday if Seth agrees.

The other event is coming up a little later, and is of particular relevance to Balloon Juicers in and around Boston.

That would be when Ta-Nehisi Coates comes to MIT.  I — and by that I mean, MIT’s  Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, which I currently head — will be hosting him on November 29 (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend).

In a talk he’s titled “The Street Just Out Of Sight,” Ta-Nehisi will read from his first novel, set before, during and after the Civil War, told through a series of voices – those of slaves and former slaves, of slave owners, and more.  From there, he will speak about how creating those voices led him to think about the idea of the writer’s voice – and what it takes to create stories that are not just read, but remembered.

It’ll all start at 7 p.m. on the 29th in MIT’s room 6-120.  Interactive map here — look up Building 6.

Should be fun.  Come if you can.

Image:  CDC poster from the “Wellbee” campaign, 1964.






28 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    Tom, when’s the novel coming out? It have a release date yet?

  2. 2
    Tom Levenson says:

    @BGinCHI: Don’t know. I’m not sure they’ve scheduled it yet. I’ll ask TNC when he comes. (Or you can…)

  3. 3
    David Koch says:

    When are you gonna have Jenny McCarthy on your show?

  4. 4
    Tom Levenson says:

    @David Koch: Tuesday? No, can’t do Tuesday. Friday, maybe. Nope, not that either.
    Sunday? No, no good.

    How about never?

    Works for me.

    Is never good for you?

  5. 5
    scav says:

    @Tom Levenson: I can make never. How many are a quorum?

  6. 6
    catclub says:

    Does anyone else think that “Ta-Nehisi Coates ” is a sly joke,
    or should be? Just like some people are called Tex,
    he appears to be named after a long narrow state in the middle of the country.

    Someone will probably tell what it really means.

  7. 7
    Capn America says:

    6-120, my favorite MIT lecture hall. Nicest chairs ever. Say hi to the ‘tute for me!

  8. 8
    Richard says:

    Has Oprah Winfrey come out to say that the dangerous bullshit about vaccines that she pushed on her program has now been completely debunked?

    I wonder how many deaths she and Jennie McCarthy have had a hand in causing.

  9. 9
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @catclub: TNC’s first name is an Egytptian name of Nubian origin,or maybe even the Egyptian name for Nubia, IIRC correctly from an explanation at the blog. It’s pronounced ta-nuh-hoss-ee as opposed to sounding like talahassee.

  10. 10
    Joel says:

    Seth Mnookin has done good work. Hard News is a great book.

  11. 11
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Capn America: In some ways I preferred 10-250 – the chairs were so damn uncomfortable you couldn’t fall asleep.

  12. 12
    Linnaeus says:

    Perhaps most significant: people who believe impossible things are not (mostly) crazy. It’s just that for many the alternatives present intolerable costs. That’s easy enough to understand when faced with the fact of a severely autistic child, but I think the mental and emotional moves involved play out in lots of places, not least our politics.

    There’s a recent trend in research in my field (history of science) that addresses this kind of thing specifically. It even has a name: agnotology.

  13. 13
    Redshift says:

    and by that I mean, MIT’s Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, which I currently head

    Hey, do you know Shariann Lewitt? Old friend of mine.

  14. 14

    @Redshift:

    Sure do. We have a very good group.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    I just sent a sample of The Panic Virus to my Kindle. Why the eff is the Kindle book more than the paperback? Idiot publishers!

  16. 16
    David Koch says:

    @Tom Levenson: But Jenny McCarthy is the eminent science columnist for the Huffington Post.

    Here she is reportin on the dangers of WMDs with the Secretary of State. http://tinyurl.com/7zbmj3g

    If she’s good enough for a vanguard progressive publication like Huffington Post, then she should be good enough for your show.

  17. 17
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    A bit of OT, just passing on this piece of awesomeness: https://plus.google.com/111797291613060149488/posts?hl=en

  18. 18
    scav says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Why the eff is the Kindle book more than the paperback? Idiot publishers!

    Oo, lookey! Still more pure profit for publishers! Idiots all the way to the bank (who are pulling their own tricks).

  19. 19
    Capn America says:

    @Gin & Tonic: lol they renovated it and made the chairs there super nice back in 2009. Much more popular of a freshman lecture hall now.

  20. 20
    Maude says:

    @Richard:
    There have been people in Britain that have died of the measles. Good ole Jennie.

  21. 21
    sfinny says:

    Very tempted to make the drive from NY to MIT for the talk on the 29th. Are reservations needed?

  22. 22
    burnspbesq says:

    We can haz streaming audio of TNC’s talk? Yes? Pretty please?

  23. 23
    Redshift says:

    @Tom Levenson: Cool. I know her from way back when she lived in DC.

  24. 24
    Keith G says:

    Tom, how about seeing if Mr. Coates would be interested in dropping in on B-J book club discussions of his novel. Rick Perlstein’s additions to the Nixonland discussions were fantastic.

  25. 25
    Deb T says:

    Love TNC and wish I lived close enough to attend. I’ve been following his blog and the articles and comments about the Civil War have been extraordinary. Most intelligent commenters on the web and TNC keeps the tone and quality high.
    I hope there will be a podcast or transcription available. Have a good time.

  26. 26
    qkslvrwolf says:

    I always forget some of you front pagers are from my neck of the woods. :-) I’ll probably be there, and I’ll probably be bringing friends. :-D

  27. 27
    Tom Levenson says:

    @sfinny: Nope — no reservations.

    We may have to move to a larger room if the turnout looks as strong as I hope it will.

  28. 28

    […] commenter Linnaeus on the last thread I posted on tonight’s conversation pointed out, the Science Studies gang has in fact developed a name for the problem: agnotology.  We live in a […]

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