Some things are “in” and others are “out.” Fashion plays a role in most of our choices, from clothes to topics in seismology. A certain amount of collective irrationality is good; it holds us together and simplifies our decisions. But culture must keep up with the rapidly changing environment and we need to poke at it relentlessly with radical thought. The emphasis is on “radical” because thought can also be wasted on rationalizations. Even in science, rationalizations built on wrong assumptions can be a cover for outdated cultural values or, worse, for narrow private agendas. A glaring example of a...

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