Larry Sanger

Online knowledge organizer. Co-founder of Wikipedia, Ph.D. Philosophy.

Why I haven’t read Lolita

I posted a Twitter poll recently, by way of unburdening myself of the following opinion about Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, the book about a middle aged man who has a love affair with a 12-year-old girl. Here is the question: How many of you, like me, always found it bizarre and even a little hard…

Constantly monitor those in power

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" That's a question we should be asking more in this day and age of constant surveillance. I'm toying with a proposal: Anyone who goes into public office should have absolutely no privacy whatsoever. Every movement should be available on video, every email and…

A Theory of Evil

For a long time, the precise nature of evil eluded me. But extended, dark contemplation of the case of Jeffrey Epstein and his associates has helped to bring the nature of evil into focus. Mind you, this is not a topic in philosophy I have studied much at all, so I have no idea if I am…

On the misbegotten phrase “surveillance capitalism”

The loaded phrase surveillance capitalism has been in circulation since at least 2014, but it came into much wider use this year with Shoshana Zuboff's book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. The phrase means the system of extremely widespread surveillance by giant private corporations, entailing…

The challenges of locking down my cyber-life

In January 2019, I wrote a post (which see for further links) I have shared often since about how I intended to "lock down my cyber-life." That was six months ago. I made lots of progress, but it seems I'm far from finished, too. In that post, I explained three problems about computer technology…

Things I don’t understand even after they are explained to me

Why public art is so ugly. Why the public are not up in arms about the ugliness of public art. Why I continue to drink and even occasionally desire beer even though it isn't actually that tasty to me. Why people are evil. (Some people really are. No, some people are really, really evil, if you…

On the clash of civilizations

There is a global conflict underway. A good way to understand it is by looking at the different interests that are coming into conflict. And a good place to begin is, of course, with: The immigrants. People from the “global south” are immigrating north, inspired by the images of prosperity they…

Why pedophilia is evil

Prefatory notes—I wrote the first draft of the following essay about the horror of pedophilia in late 2016 or early 2017 and posted it on Medium and Quora, where it got quite a bit of attention. Since I deleted my accounts on those sites last winter, this essay (and a number of others) have been…

Why murder is evil

Originally posted on Quora, since deleted, and now re-posted here with a few edits. The Quora question was, "Who might you find in the lowest circles of hell?" If there were a hell, then murderers, particularly mass murderers, would have to occupy the very lowest circle. I think many people do…

Toward a social contract for social media

Last week, I led a "strike," or boycott, associated with the hashtag #SocialMediaStrike, directed at the giant, centralized social media services. Though throttled by Twitter and no doubt by others, the brief campaign led to massive use of the hashtag, many people carrying out the strike, as well…