Seven Inspiring Real-Life ‘Rags to Riches’ Stories (History)

History shares notable “rags to riches” stories, specifically those of Charles Dickens, Catherine I, and Andrew Carnegie.

These figures rose from humble beginnings to wealth and influence. Read more in History.

Bowdoin’s Rudalevige on Trump Desire to Reorganize Executive Branch: ‘Good Luck With That’ (Monkey Cage)

Andrew Rudalevige

President Trump’s recent executive order, “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,” may be a song we’ve heard before. Many times. As Bowdoin’s Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government Andrew Rudalevige explains, attempts at executive reform have a long history.

Rudalevige writes that when Trump complained about “’duplication and redundancy everywhere,’ and urged more ‘efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch,’ he was preaching to a bipartisan, historical presidential choir.” Read more in the Washington Post political science blog The Monkey Cage.

Robbed of Credit: Scanlon Insight on History’s Groundbreaking Women (Huffington Post)

Jennifer Scanlon

As part of Women’s History Month, The Huffington Post has compiled a list of “11 Women Who Did Groundbreaking Things That Men Got the Credit For.”

Among this group is Anna Arnold Hedgeman, who in 1963 organized the March on  Washington, but was “hidden, concealed, out of sight” by the men around her, according to Jennifer Scanlon, who authored the biography, Until There Is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman.

Scanlon is also interim dean for academic affairs and professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at Bowdoin. Read the Huffington Post article.

The Limits of Reason: Why Facts Don’t Always Change Our Minds (New Yorker)

The New Yorker examines various Stanford experiments concerning perception and reality, particularly one’s ability to reason after facts change. The studies proved the limits of human reason and the futility of facts to change minds. Cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber analyze why reasonable people act irrationally in their book, Enigma of Reason.

Evolutionarily, reason developed to aid cooperation, rather than to solve abstract or logical problems. Thus, humans are prone to confirmation biases, dismissing contradictory evidence after opinions are formed. Read more in The New Yorker.