My media week 07/11/10

Ira Flatow talks with scientists and philosophers about the origins of human values, and the influence of modern scientific thought on human values. Even if science can shape human morals, should it? Or does science bring its own set of preconceptions and prejudices to moral questions? The guests are Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn, Sam Harris and Steven Pinker. Can Science Shape Human Values? And Should It?

ABC’S All in the Mind looks at why we so often deceive ourselves, believe one thing and yet do another, and fail to exercise self control when we know better? Acclaimed evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban argues that our strange ways are explained by our ‘modular minds’: Why everyone (else) is a hypocrite: your modular mind.

A couple of weeks ago I did a feature on Don Boudreaux’s letters. The irrepressible Mr. Boudreaux, who blogs at Café Hayek, came out with this classic:

 Here’s a letter to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria:

 On your October 30th show, former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner lamented that we Americans now “can have things made in India and China that are of the quality you could find in the U.S. at a significant lower cost.  And that is of course one of the problems for the American economy.”

 I wish that you would have challenged Mr. Gerstner with the following question: “Lou, are you saying that we Americans would be better off if Indian and Chinese goods were shoddier and more dangerous?  Would our prosperity be enhanced if Uncle Sam deployed agents to every port in the U.S. with instructions to damage Indian and Chinese imports – say, by ripping holes in imported clothing, spraying salmonella on imported foods, and attaching small, tasty-looking, detachable parts to children’s toys?  And if you don’t think that such a policy of enforced import shoddiness would be good for America, why do you conclude that good quality imports are a ‘problem’ for America?”

 Sincerely,

Donald J. Boudreaux

 It’s interesting that some critics of free trade point to the alleged shoddiness of imports as a reason for restricting consumers’ freedom to spend their money as they choose, while others point to the improving quality of imports as a problem for the U.S. economy.

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