“One of the greatest dangers of the internet, noted by Daniel Kahneman in his valuable book Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), arises from the fact that ‘people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers.'”

“Readers who have not already done so must rid themselves of notions that women’s politics are always kinder, gentler, and less racist than men’s.”

Geoff Dyer: “My greatest achievement as a writer is undoubtedly the highly refined autocorrect settings on my laptop.”

“If you want to get back at somebody you consider your enemy, give them a column in the New York Times. Because over time all of their weaknesses and faults are going to become glaringly obvious.”

Is this the most successful sound in television history?

“By 1961, fully one-sixth of the population of Ireland was living in Britain. […] Wills describes an Irish missionary priest who was asked by a family to check on their emigrant daughter, who gossips claimed had been led astray. He describes what happened when he rang her doorbell: Beside her stood a little mite of perhaps three years, with a ribbon in her hair. The girl admitted that she was married in the registry. ‘Is that little girl yours?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What’s her name?’ ‘Fatima.’ ‘That’s a nice Catholic name.’ ‘Not at all; it’s the name of the Prophet’s daughter.’”

Amit Chaudhuri: “‘To escape the Eiffel Tower,’ Maupassant suggested, ‘you have to go inside it.’ Similarly, the main reason for a novelist wanting to win the Booker prize is to no longer be under any obligation to win it, and to be able to get on with their job: writing, and thinking about writing.”

A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women.

“Never yuck on someone else’s yum.”

“Here is a fascinating conundrum: Freud, the creator of a scientifically delegitimized blueprint of the human mind and of a largely discontinued psychotherapeutic discipline, retains the cultural capital of history’s greatest playwright and the erstwhile Son of God.”

Forrest Wickman on the history of mooning: “According to Josephus’ account in The Wars of the Jews, a Roman soldier bared his rear to an audience of Jews celebrating Passover, and thereby incited a furious riot that killed ‘upwards of thirty thousand.’ However, a closer examination of Josephus’s account shows that the soldier was not mooning the crowd, but rather farting in their general direction.”

Ned Beauman: “There’s something extremely seductive about madness, about the possibility of abandoning all civilisational structures and common sense and plunging into something much darker and more turbid.”

Todd Gitlin on the decline of free speech on American campuses: “The intense hatred of racial ‘microaggressions’ is flourishing just as state and national officials are zealously practicing macroaggressions: infringing on voting rights and progressive advances in criminal justice. While shortsighted activists focus on slights (real, imagined and arguable), the political powers that be are indisputably rolling back equal rights directly and profoundly where most people live — off campus.”

John Lanchester: “Flaubert was sceptical about trains because he thought (in Julian Barnes’s paraphrase) that ‘the railway would merely permit more people to move about, meet and be stupid.’ You don’t have to be as misanthropic as Flaubert to wonder if something similar isn’t true about connecting people on Facebook.”

Henry Alford: “If one of the defining cultural tropes of the 1950s and ’60s was kitchen-sink realism, many writers today go more for yoga-mat realism. I refer to narratives anxious to detail how ‘authentic connection’ can ‘feed us.’ […] I’m entirely the wrong audience for these books: I’m a childless, lapsed Protestant agnostic who is made hugely uncomfortable by the use of the word ‘nourish’ in a nonfood context.”

Re the infamous Google memo and social justice in general: To object to a means of achieving x is not to be anti-x.

“There’s a place for variety and richness in typography, for colourful and engaging creatures that live at abyssal depths. Bring them up for a closer look: they’re splendid to behold.”

Jay Caspian Kang: “Asian-­American is a mostly meaningless term. Nobody grows up speaking Asian-­American, nobody sits down to Asian-­American food with their Asian-American parents and nobody goes on pilgrimages back to their motherland of Asian-America.”

What happened to the DNA of Africans from Roman Britain?

Lauren Michele Jackson: “Our culture frequently associates black people with excessive behaviors, regardless of the behavior at hand. Black women will often be accused of yelling when we haven’t so much as raised our voice. Officer Darren Wilson perceived a teenage Michael Brown as a hulking ‘demon’ and a young black girl who remained still was flipped and dragged across a classroom by deputy Ben Fields. It’s an implication that points toward a strange way of thinking: When we do nothing, we’re doing something, and when we do anything, our behavior is considered “extreme.”

Naben Ruthnum on using a white pseudonym.

Maximillian Alvarez: “Looking back on this tumultuous election year, it seems clear that our political culture is marked, at the micro level, by the fusion of a given person’s opinion and what they perceive to be their singular, permanent, and authentic self. (I know that sounds like highfalutin, farty, pseudo-philosophical B.S., but just bear with me for a minute.) Like race, wingspan, or nationality, a person’s political opinions are now treated as if they are hardwired into their being—they are part of one’s fundamental, seemingly unchanging essence.”

Kenan Malik: “In reality, the debate is not whether we should challenge oppression. It is about how we should do so. Most of us who criticize identity politics do so from the perspective of having challenged oppression and injustice for most of our adult lives.”

“Either promote good social norms, or be destroyed by the bad ones when the tide turns against you.”

La puissance du Christ vous oblige.

Nathan J. Robinson: “People go after academic writing for the wrong reason, condemning its prolixity or complicatedness. This allows academics like Judith Butler to retort that intellectual work is complicated, thus it requires ‘difficult’ prose, just like an ordinary person could not understand an article in a molecular biology journal. But there’s a fundamental difference between two kinds of difficulty. The one kind of difficulty exists because I am unfamiliar with the terms, but if I looked them up, the difficulty would disappear. The other kind of difficulty is actually an impossibility. It’s impossible to understand what certain abstract academic terms mean, because there actually is no clear and agreed-upon meaning.”

Learn about game theory, trust and cooperation by playing the prisoner’s dilemma.

Auden: “Thou shalt not sit with statisticians nor commit a social science.”

Richard King on The Handmaid’s Tale:  “The idea that a near-future US regime would adopt as its organising principle the subjugation of women and gays strikes me as preposterous. There is more truth, frankly, in the dystopian visions of Snowpiercer and The Hunger Games – movies the writers and makers of which intuit that the great divide of our time – the divide that is deepening and likely to deepen further – is the divide between the rich and the poor, and who tend to draw their ruling castes as wealthy, buff, and sexually free.”