Michael Shermer on the Enduring Appeal of the Apocolypse. With Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicting the apocalypse for May 21st, Michael Shermer considers why human beings are so inclined to come up with apocalyptic prophecies. The key, according to Shermer, is in the human cognitive evolution. "In our ancestral environments, vigilance and rapid reactions often made the difference between life and death, so the default position was to assume that all patterns are real... Doomsday scenarios are patterns based on our perceptions of the passage of time... These patterns are often false, of course, but they are correct often enough that, in our brains, time and causality are inseparably linked." Moreover, apocalyptic visions "help us to make sense of an often seemingly senseless world... For human beings, it is much easier to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune when we believe that it is all part of a deeper, unfolding plan."
Glenn Greenwald on the Nuremberg Principles Applied to Osama bin Laden. "There's a strong desire to believe that the U.S. -- for the first time in a long time -- did something unquestionably noble and just, and anything which even calls that narrative into question provokes little more than hostility and resentment," writes Glenn Greenwald about the raid on Osama bin Laden. But these questions must be asked, particularly with regard to contrasting 9/11, Bin Laden's death, and the Iraq War. "There is, of course, a difference between deliberately targeting civilians and recklessly causing their deaths. But, as American law recognizes in multiple contexts, acts that are undertaken recklessly -- without regard to the harm they cause -- are deemed intentional... The perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks deserve to be held accountable for those crimes. But it's been a bit difficult listening to a country that continuously commits its own egregious crimes -- ones that constantly cause civilian deaths -- righteously celebrating the bin Laden killing as though it is applying universal principles of justice grounded in unmitigated contempt for lawless aggression."