Myth-Making in the Age of Science: Costa Rica’s COVID-19 Narrative

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Introduction

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is just a virus. It has no mind of its own, tells no stories, and creates no cultures. It only does what viruses do, namely infect hosts and replicate.

But humans, who are among the main victims of COVID-19, do have minds of our own, tell stories, and create cultures. We therefore respond to the virus by using our minds to tell stories that fit the virus into our cultures.

Unfortunately, the facts about COVID-19 aren’t…

The Greatest Country on Earth? The Pride beneath the Pandemic

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You’ve heard the question now multiple times: How could the richest country in the world have been so unprepared for the coronavirus?

You’ve also heard answers that range from blaming a dithering president in denial to faulting China for misleading the world about the facts.

But what you may not have heard is that the premise of the question is wrong. Actually the United States is not the richest country in the world.

True, the United States has the largest GDP in the world…

Eleven R-Words that Scream Political Bias

Power Words for Political Liars

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Fake news bombards us. However, while everyone is alert to the problem of news stories that intentionally disseminate false facts or show manipulated photos and videos, few of us are paying enough attention to the old fashioned ways that the news is distorted.

These old fashioned distortions are typically subtle. Often they amount to little more than a seemingly innocuous word choice. These biased word choices, though, can significantly alter the readers’ interpretation of a story, and ultimately do as much damage as outright fake news.

There are scores…

Capitalism Is Immoral, but Moral Economies May be Worse

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Since its rise as a dominant economic system in the early 19th century, capitalism has been criticized as immoral. “It is, indeed, the moral economy that they [the proponents of capitalism] always keep out of sight,” wrote James Bonterre O’Brien in 1837, proceeding to charge that capitalism destroys virtues. Eleven years later in the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels likened capitalism to a sorcerer casting an evil spell on humanity. In his first 1867 volume of Capital, Marx continued to write about the “domination and exploitation” of workers by…

A World Without Work? No Thank You

Technology isn’t eliminating work, economic elites are destroying it

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Buried in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a right that many find archaic. This is the right to work. To be sure, the Declaration also includes rights to social welfare benefits in times of need, but absent from it is a right to an income. Present instead is a right to work with dignity for fair pay.

Some social visionaries believe that they can do better than the Declaration. Instead of a right to work, they propose a right to a basic income, with or without work. These…

Why Charity Fails: It Violates the Norm of Reciprocity

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Charity is under fire. William Easterly’s 2006 book, White Man’s Burden, may have been the initial cannon blast. According to Easterly, an economist experienced in development issues, the billions of poorly-earmarked and mismanaged public and private dollars spent on foreign aid over decades have scarcely helped a single needy person anywhere in the world. Five years later, Robert Lupton, a Christian minister with career experience in charitable work, launched an equally aggressive attack on the charitable initiatives of his fellow Christians in his book, Toxic Charity. Lupton is so convinced that…

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Three Gun Policy Options in the United States

A comparison of the libertarian, regulatory, and authoritarian models of gun policy

As Americans revisit their country’s gun policies in the wake of the shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, they might want to frame their discussions in the context of the three broad gun policy options available to them. These are the libertarian, the regulatory, and the authoritarian models. Let’s look at each.

The Libertarian Model

The libertarian model essentially calls for no gun policy at all. Libertarians believe that law-abiding adults have the right to own (and usually to carry) almost any guns they want. They…

Voters in Costa Rica — one of Latin America’s most stable democracies — head to the polls this Sunday, February 4th to elect their president and 57-member legislature. All indicators suggest that the quadrennial process will once again proceed peacefully.

Yet, there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in this year’s election. A poll conducted three weeks before the election put the dissatisfaction in stark statistical terms: Nearly half of Costa Ricans don’t want any of the parties or candidates. Among those who do favor a party or a candidate, the preferences are wildly diverse. …

Ken Morris

Ken is a former professor and writer in Costa Rica. His most recent books are “On American Freedom” and “Unfinished Revolution.”

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