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Weekly Roundup

· 6 min read
Weekly Roundup
Weekly Roundup, October 3 2021

If there were a modern day Voltaire, or a 21st century Bertrand Russell, Steven Pinker would be it. So it is a tremendous honour for me to bring you an excerpt of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, by the man himself, in this week's roundup. For more of Pinker's insights, you can also catch a terrific interview with Pinker by Richard Hanania, over on Substack, and Razib Khan's review on Unherd is also highly recommended. (And stay tuned for a Quillette podcast coming soon).

For lovers of obscure and arthouse film, don't miss "A Peculiarly Australian Kind of Hell—Revisiting ‘Wake in Fright’" by Ryan Anderson published this week. The film—Wake in Fright—as well as Anderson's essay both capture unique aspects of the Australian experience that are rarely understood by outsiders, including the oppressiveness of the landscape, and the cultural conformity that arises from a geographically isolated population.

Weekly Roundup and a Letter from the Editor
Quillette is now entering its sixth year of operation.

Finally, thank you to all of those who have subscribed to Quillette in recent weeks. We have received many notes of gratitude from long-time readers, which has been both encouraging and touching. In these polarised times, it is easy to become demoralised when outrage and falsehood spread faster, and prove more profitable than measured analysis and objective fact-finding. So it is a terrific boost when readers such as yourselves express your support, and back us financially.

We can't do our work without our readers—so for each and every one of you who have subscribed—thank you from the whole team!



Be Rational
Rationality is uncool. To describe someone with a slang word for the cerebral, like nerd, wonk, geek, or brainiac, is to imply they are terminally challenged in hipness. For decades, Hollywood screenplays and rock-song lyrics have equated joy and freedom with an escape from reason. “A man needs a li…
In Defense of Good Power
Fellowship, community, shared patriotism—these essential values of our civilization do not come from just buying and consuming goods together. They come from a shared sense of individual independence and personal effort. They come from working together to build a country—that is the answer to the we…


The Culture War is Coming for Your Genes
In the opening pages of The Genetic Lottery, Dr Kathryn Paige Harden sets out her mission: “What I am aiming to do in this book is re-envision the relationship between genetic science and equality. … I will argue that the science of individual differences is compatible with full-throated egalitarian…
Shame and Silence: The LWS Twin Studies Revisited
Some colleagues refused to speak with me, several did so under conditions of anonymity and others would not answer my emails. I felt rejected and perplexed because this was not the experience I was used to. By the time I began writing Deliberately Divided in the fall of 2019, I

Art and Letters

A Peculiarly Australian Kind of Hell—Revisiting ‘Wake in Fright’
Watching director Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 psychodrama Wake in Fright 50 years after its initial release somehow evokes the irrecoverably distant and the hauntingly familiar. In one respect, the film’s desolate setting and suffocating atmosphere of violent desperation are so far removed from the urban, m…
My Life as a Ghostwriter
For 15 years, I’ve led a professional double-life, working as editor, writer, author, and podcaster in plain public view, while also helping famous people produce their own books—memoirs, mostly—behind closed doors. This parallel professional existence was outed in 2014, when one of my more well-kno…


Sandinista! The US Left and Nicaragua
When the Sandinista insurgency overthrew the barbaric dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979, many on the international Left believed that Nicaragua had become a nation alive with political possibility. American radicals, in particular, understood the revolutionary new government led by Daniel Ort…
Why Australia Opted for AUKUS
There’s more to Australia’s decision to cancel its submarine contract with France than offending the French, risking an EU free trade deal, allowing “floating Chernobyls” into Sydney Harbour, and further antagonising China, its largest trade partner. As well as committing to closer defence technolog…


Podcast #167: Vivek Ramaswamy on the ‘Woke Smoke’ Blown by Corporate America
Quillette podcast host Jonathan Kay speaks with 36-year-old biotech entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy about how corporate elites burnish their progressive bona fides (and distract their critics) with anti-racism slogans and hashtags—instead of taking concrete steps to address real inequalities…
A Peek Inside Corporate America’s Ascendant Woke-Industrial Complex
In one of my favorite episodes of South Park, two sleazy salesmen try to sell shoddy vacation condos in the glitzy ski town of “Asspen” to the lower middle-class residents of South Park. Their sales pitch is simple: “Try saying it, ‘I’ve got a little place in Asspen.’ Rolls
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