• Exercises in Secular Heresy: Technological Determinism, Civil Liberties, and the Taboo of Diminishing Returns

    I recently delivered this talk, Exercises in Secular Heresy: Technological Determinism, Civil Liberties, and the Taboo of Diminishing Returns (PDF), at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Arts and Sciences in Canada.  



  • Financial complexity: Accounting for fraud

    The following letter was published in Science on 15 April 2015.  It discusses the role of fraud in the 2008 financial crisis, and the importance of taking fraud into account when attempting to explain what happened.   The Policy Forum “Complexity theory and financial regulation” (S. Battiston et […]



  • Torture’s Inefficiency Long Established

    The following letter was published in Science on 4 December 2015.  It discusses the history of the CIA’s covert sponsorship of behavioral science research and the relationship of this research to the CIA’s torture practices.   In the 16 October issue, R. J. McNally reviews a book by Shane […]



  • Metaphysics and Number

    In the early 1700′s, the French Jesuit Joachim Bouvet introduced Gottfried Leibniz to the Chinese Classic, the I Ching. Following a dispute between Pope Clement XI and the Chinese Emperor Kangxi, Bouvet’s attempts to reconcile ancient Chinese wisdom with that of the Catholic tradition came to an official conclusion. […]



  • Parsing the Languages of the New Media

    Parsing the Languages of the New Media is an experimental, database-driven nonlinear essay intended as a critique of Lev Manovich’s book The Language of New Media. The contents of the critique are organized around multiple, overlapping means of navigating the text: it can be browsed by keyword, searched, or sorted according […]



  • Piracy and the Captains of Industry

    This essay was originally prepared for bilingual publication in 2011, discussing some of the under-examined social dimensions related to digital piracy.   1. A Conflicted Metaphor Understood properly, the word “piracy” (when used in reference to the illicit distribution of commercial media recordings) is today used in a […]



  • History of a Mutant Strain

    As a vegetarian, I’ve recently been enjoying a delicious non-soy meat alternative I affectionately refer to as a “biowarfare burger.”  My interest in this industrial delicacy coincides with many of the concerns that compel me to maintain my vegetarian diet.  The more I learn about the industrial production […]