To MAGAs, The Constitution Isn’t The Point

1.     January 6 was a shocking aberration. ...

Resilience: Debunking The Debunker

Sarah Green Carmichael, in a Bloomberg News item titled “You don’t need more resilience, you...

There’s DEI, And Then There’s DEI

A job interview, some years back, at No Name University (NNU). I was the candidate. The diversity...

The Economics You Were Taught? Dead.

This is a companion piece to “Enough: Toward A Sustainable Economics” https://www.science20...

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Fred PhillipsRSS Feed of this column.

After a dozen years as a market research executive, Fred Phillips was professor, dean, and vice provost at a variety of universities in the US, Europe, and South America. He is now Visiting Professor... Read More »


Many are the sci-fi encounters with races that have transcended their physical bodies, having moved on to dwell on some energetic or spiritual plane. The tales skip the backstories, so we wonder: Did these aliens get where they are via Darwinian evolution? Did they get disgusted with the physical world and devise a technological means of transitioning? Do their planets of origin still exist, or were they destroyed? Always in sci-fi, we are given to assume that these aliens enjoy their non-material existence and don’t miss the meat world.

Putin’s Information War: Winning or Losing?

Remarks for World Talent Economy Forum, March 21,2022

Fred Phillips


Dear students,
If you ask about your grade, I’ll gladly tell you that you’re doing well in the course, or that you really need to do better, as the case may be. More specifically than that I will not say.
The main reason for this is that if I were a hiring manager at a company, the very last thing I would ever think to ask you about would be your grades. When you interview for a job, you should show that you understand the company’s situation, that you have knowledge, skills and experiences that prepare you to do the job, and that your personality and way of working fit the company’s vibe (okay, their “culture”). And that you can clearly articulate these things. All this is so much more important than grades.
“Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time.” – Marshall McLuhan*

The famous media scholar’s statement about preliterate societies seems to apply also to our society today, in which the word “terror” appears in the news daily.

When McLuhan’s oral society gains enough leisure to develop a written language, “leisure” would mean not simply a few hours off work, but also some insulation from the terrors of the interconnected world. Enough insulation so that one could safely turn one’s attention inward for a while, to direct one’s mind to matters other than immediate survival.
Last month in Korea a computer scientist struck up a conversation on the subway. He told me in fractured English that he wants to take a PhD in theology. When I meet a theologian I usually ask, “Theoretical, or experimental?” This guy wouldn’t have understood, so I forbore. I did suggest, tongue in cheek, that he would then be uniquely qualified to determine whether A.I.s have souls.

“More than that,” he said, taking me seriously, “they could be intermediaries” between us and God. I allowed as that was an interesting notion.
To say ‘business ecosystem’ or ‘innovation ecosystem’ is to commit the teleological fallacy. That means assuming a purpose where there is no purpose.

Charles Darwin said species evolve to adapt to changing environments. Natural ecosystems – species and their environments – have no ‘purpose’; they just are.

Now, if you believe in a creator deity, you might hold that biological ecosystems do have a (divine) purpose. We’ll come back to this point.