This time we'll be going to Trattoria Alba, a fine Italian restaurant in east Midtown. A menu is here.
Please don't show up without RSVP'ing. A $5 deposit is required to RSVP, which will be refunded in cash 10 minutes after the event starts. It will also be refunded electronically if you cancel more than 24 hours before the event. A failure to show, or showing up more than 10 minutes late, will result in forfeiture of your deposit.
If you wind up on the wait list, note that your RSVP won't automatically be promoted to a "yes" when a spot opens up because you have to pay your deposit to become a "yes" RSVP. So be vigilant about watching for spots opening up.
50 years ago, the average person rarely had much opportunity to make their opinions known beyond a small circle of friends. Major news outlets were large organizations trying hard to maintain a reputation of accuracy, and they employed professional journalists trained at fact-checking.
But technology has changed all that. With the aid of word processing and spelling correction, people who aren't particularly bright can put together a presentable essay that would have been far beyond their abilities with only a typewriter. Blogs and social media allow them to spread these opinions far and wide.
So where society was faced with only a few professional voices, we are now faced with a cacophony of amateur opinions. Is this progress or is it not?
Newseek reports that conspiracy theories are running wild in the United States.
The New Yorker observes that when people believe in a conspiracy theory, they tend to view anyone trying to debunk the theory as part of the conspiracy and cling even more strongly to the false belief.
In a way, this is all a positive trend. All my life, many sources in the media, and many leaders of public opinion, were telling us all to "think for ourselves" and "question authority". Now people are doing exactly that, and, unfortunately, most of them are doing a pretty amateur job.
The Philosopher's Beard seems to be arguing that the public should just shut up and believe whatever they are told by professional academics. But the public frequently hears the academic establishment saying things that do not turn out to be true. The liberal establishment constantly lectures us that social stereotypes have no basis in truth, while Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker points out that research shows they usually do. Around 1960, academics were confidently telling parents of baby boys with injured or deformed genitals that if the boys were surgically altered to be female and raised as girls, they would grow to become healthy, happy, heterosexual women. The experiment did not go well. In the '60's there was an overwhelming consensus among academics that intelligence and personality had no significant genetic component, but were entirely the product of upbringing, which has since been shown to be false. Many if not most academics around 1970 believed that socialism/communism would eventually bury capitalism, the latter being a less desirable way to organize societies. The crumbling of the Berlin Wall was a completely unanticipated event to these types.