FROM Lee Siegel
Are the Humanities in Crisis? Only about 12% of all college students major in the humanities, a big change from just 50 years ago, when there were twice as many. Only about 7% major in subjects like English, Music or Art. The cost of college and concerns about employment are funneling more students into business and technology degrees, and we certainly need engineers, scientists and blue collar laborers, but at what price to American culture? Are we raising a generation of Americans that doesn't know enough about the humanities? What does it take to create a well-rounded society? What's at stake in education and society when our curricula become more career-focused and less aimed at creating well-rounded individuals?
Wikipedia: The Wisdom and the Folly of Crowds According to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, it's "one of the greatest triumphs of the Internet." But is Wikipedia all that it claims to be? The operating principle is that anybody can contribute, that a crowd of contributors can reach a consensus superior to what's handed down by designated experts. The risks are obvious, and as the site became vastly popular, it became more vulnerable to "virtual vandals." New rules were adopted, for accuracy and to protect reputations, but they discouraged contributors from helping to build "the wisdom of the crowd." We hear more about how Wikipedia actually works and whether it can continue to grow.
Reading in a World Wide Web of Distraction The National Endowment for the Arts has a program called The Big Read , encouraging Americans to read books and talk about them together. The NEA program is one response to a disturbing finding: Americans are reading less -- and reading less well. That's according to an analysis of 40 different studies, " To Read or Not to Read : A Question of National Consequence." Humans are not genetically programmed to read, but have to learn over time by reading books. Books are giving way to the Internet. As reading scores decline, some researchers claim the Internet is promoting superficial thinking instead of the wisdom that comes with patient study. On this archived To the Point discussion, we consider whether schools should teach children to use the Web critically. Should Internet 1-A be part of the basic curriculum?
Reading in a World Wide Web of Distraction The National Endowment for the Arts has a program called The Big Read , encouraging Americans to read books and talk about them together. The NEA program is one response to a disturbing finding: Americans are reading less and reading less well. That's according to an analysis of 40 different studies. Human beings are not genetically programmed to read; they have to learn over time—by reading books. But books are giving way to the Internet. As reading scores decline, some researchers claim the Internet is promoting quick, superficial thinking instead of the wisdom that comes with patient study. Nobody wants to get rid of books, but kids spend more time on the Internet. Should schools teach them to use it critically? Should Internet 1A be part of the basic curriculum?
Is the Newspaper Industry Stumbling? Crumbling? Newspapers are shedding staff and reducing services, just like other industries, but even if the economy picks up, they may not bounce back. Tumbling ad revenues and stockholders hungry for profit are creating a familiar scenario, but the Internet is what's making things different. Major papers in New York, Washington and Los Angeles give readers national and international perspective. Local papers keep watch on business interests and City Hall. Will technology lead to the erosion of institutional memory and professional standards?
Does 'hire American' mean fire a foreigner? US companies are allowed to hire employees from other countries with highly developed skills that can't be found here. President Trump says it's being abused as a way to find cheap foreign labor. We hear about the benefits—and the risks—of changing the H-1B program.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Rhetoric and brinksmanship on the Korean Peninsula For 25 years, the US has viewed North Korea's nuclear program with increasing alarm. Now President Trump says this country has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what he's actually doing… and what might come next.
Truth and Lies in Trumpland Donald Trump is using mis-information like no President has before him. It's an unprecedented challenge to the news media, and a potential threat to democracy. We hear how the "leader of all the people" is dividing Americans and confusing the rest of the world.