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The Bulletin

The Alumni Magazine of Swarthmore College

  • Fall 2022

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  • The Fragile Nature of Truth

    WHAT WE SEE is real. Isn’t it? Truth is malleable, though. It can seem fleeting, fragile, impermanent. Much like the butterflies on the cover, we’re intricate creatures too. We absorb powerful channels of curated information that chop away at what binds us as a society. Swarthmore’s alumni and faculty help to “share our location,” exploring the growing power of miscommunication and misinformation.

    In “Moments of Truth”, Brendan Nyhan ’00 and Brandon Silverman ’02 explain the need for greater transparency from tech companies. Their efforts help to untangle what’s below the glittering networks of persuasion, influence, and propaganda that have seeped into every recess of our lives.

    Firebrand” shares the history of College founder Lucretia Coffin Mott, who spoke confidently about truth and for the rights of others more than 150 years ago. While the U.S. government sanctioned slavery, Mott advocated for emancipation. Though women were not permitted to vote, she spoke eloquently for their right to do so. Mott died before all of her visions were realized. Jamie Stiehm ’82 tells us why it matters that she fought so valiantly anyway. Mott’s lessons in tenacity could be a balm for the country’s current charged mindset and an inspiration to continue speaking out against social injustice.

    In “Starstruck”, journalist Joshua Sokol ’11 had the exceptional opportunity of witnessing the selection process of which images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope were shared with the waiting world. Writing about it “felt like a culmination of things I had done throughout my life,” says Sokol.

    And to begin and end with butterflies, in “Secrets of the Butterfly Hunter”, Zhengyang Wang ’14 takes us on a mountainous trek exploring the habitat of the endangered Teinopalpus aureus. His conservation work is a reminder that within every beat of a butterfly’s wings, mysteries of the many ways we are connected wait to be unlocked.  

    — Kate Campbell

     

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