Scoffing at those who believe in near death experiences

When I saw the title of this article that said Reasons not to scoff at ghosts, visions and near-death experiences, I assumed that it was going to make the case for the plausibility of things that I definitely scoff at. But what the author is arguing is that such beliefs can be therapeutic for some people and thus of some value and we should not too quickly move to disabuse people of those beliefs.
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Ralph Waldo Emerson had Alan Dershowitz’s number

Ralph Waldo Emerson once memorably wrote: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons”, at a time when spoons were often made of silver and thus valuable and the target of thieves. Emerson was likely adapting a sentiment attributed to Samuel Johnson by his biographer James Boswell. The sentiment expressed a warning about those who spoke too much about their own virtues, that it should make their claims to virtue suspect. It is similar to the Shakespearean “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” in Hamlet to signify that one loses credibility by being too insistent.
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Fact-checking in science

In science, collective judgments by credible experts that have passed through institutional filters are what make up reliable knowledge. These should not be confused with ‘facts’ which is the term given to the things that are directly measured. And yet, the media often conflate the two and in this article in Scientific American, Naomi Oreskes warns that doing so does a disservice when it comes to ‘fact-checking’ politicians concerning climate change warnings.
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Another secret deal between a city and a corporation

The giant paint company Sherwin-Williams has had its headquarters and its main research facilities in the city of Cleveland since its founding in 1866 and has often boasted about how proud it is to be there and what a good corporate citizen it is, donating to the arts and charities and the like.

But like all major corporations, it has decided to shakedown the city it has long called home and which is under financial stress in the usual way, by threatening to move its headquarters elsewhere unless it gets a good deal in the form of tax and other incentives. And in a familiar move, the city and the corporation are not divulging the details of the deal being worked out.
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Describing Donald Trump and his supporters

I tried to collect in one place all the adjectives that describe Donald Trump’s qualities and so far have come up with the following list, not in any particular order:

Ignorant
Petulant
Narcissistic
Vain
Irrational
Reckless
Misogynist
Racist
Xenophobic
Swaggering
Law-breaking
Venal
White supremacist
Corrupt
Paranoid
Cruel
Lying
Abusive
Cowardly
Vulgar
Petty
Greedy
Boastful
Spiteful
Preening
Vindictive

I am pretty certain that I have not exhausted the possibilities and am open to suggestions to add to the list
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The puzzling appeal of mementos

Once again we have an utterly absurd fuss ginned up by Republicans over the fact that speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi had handed out to various people the pens used to sign the articles of impeachment. I had known that at formal signing ceremonies in the US, the pens that are used to sign the documents become important trophies that are given out as rewards. Barack Obama used 22 pens to sign the Affordable Care Act and Lyndon Johnson used 75 to sign the Civil Rights Act. Donald Trump also gave away dozens of pens after signing the trade pact with China, an event that no one will remember after a few weeks. But I wondered how you could have more than one pen and the above linked article explains what happens.
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Against the mindless use of metrics in the workplace

Anyone who has worked at a large organization, especially if they have been in charge of a department or section, will have encountered the dreaded metrics. Someone in upper management decides that they need to measure precisely how effective each part of the organization is functioning and so they develop some sort of metric that is sent out which section heads are supposed to periodically fill in and return.

The problem is that unless you are dealing with highly tangible and easily measurable entities, like the number of widgets that are produced per day, metrics can turn out to be extremely frustrating to fill out and even counter-productive, as Jerry Z. Muller explains.
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