Category: Pop Culture


Boy and Girl Brains?

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Gender, Pop Culture, Postmodernism. 8 comments

2nd June

This past weekend, I had the pleasure to meet two teen girls adopted from China by friends of mine. The girls are poised between childhood and adulthood where the big questions—who am I? What am I going to make of my life?—are looming. During a conversation, someone mentioned something about “girl brains.” The phrase went by quickly, and I almost didn’t notice it. Then one of the girls asked directly: “Are the differences between the sexes biological or cultural?”

After our conversation, I began to wonder: how does this popular notion that women and men have different brains affect these girls’ ambitions, hopes, and dreams? Despite all of the celebration of how great the female brain is—how it will be much more useful in the world of the future—it seemed that she had already begun to wonder if she had gotten … Read More »



Meditations on Zengotita’s Mediated

13th March

Thomas de Zengotita’s 2005 stealth bomb Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It leaves a permanent crater in your consciousness–after reading it, you awaken to a haunting perspective on the narcissistic self-referentiality of postmodern media culture. You know what I mean: the world where reality TV isn’t and yet is creating reality at the same time; or where authenticity is a brand for those who dare to be real… We pegged the book as an instant classic–time will tell, but at this point it is far too underappreciated. We have considered ourselves very fortunate to have Tom write for us on occasion (check here or read a review of Mediated.) We had followed his writing since the days that he wrote–crafted?–lengthy breakthrough pieces for Harper’s magazine before it joined the Political … Read More »


Women Awakening…to the Power of Choice

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Cultural Evolution, Gender, Pop Culture, Uncategorized. 4 comments

10th November

“I do think there is an awakening happening among women,” Marianne Schnall, founder of feminist.com, said to me, “and it needs help and we need to support each other. We have so many choices now but if we don’t know who we are then we won’t know how to make those choices count.” I agree with Marianne. In the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing a lot of women in preparation for the two seminars for women that I’m leading on November 13 & 14. Some women, like Marianne, think deeply about what’s going on with women; others are your average great women negotiating the complexity of their lives. Every one of them spoke about this deep longing for more–and simultaneously, a struggle to figure out how to make choices that will enable them to release the greater potential … Read More »


Will Androids Ever Feel Real? The Turing Test and Cultural Autism

25th May

Have you ever heard of the Turing test? Years ago, I encountered it in Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter’s 1981 book The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. It’s bugged me ever since. Put forth by Alan Turing in a 1950 paper on computing and intelligence, Turing proposed a simple and apparently straightforward way to assess whether computers could actually think. Since defining “thinking” is tricky–because immediately we find ourselves grappling with questions about the nature of consciousness or intelligence–Turing suggested that we skip all of the deeper philosophical questions with an empirical test: if a human interviewer was to receive written answers to questions posed to two entities hidden from view, a computer and a person, would it be possible for the computer to “trick” the interviewer into believing that it was the human? If so, if the computer was able to convince someone that it is capable of doing what we (thinking … Read More »





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