Magazine article Psychology Today

The Probing Provocateur

Magazine article Psychology Today

The Probing Provocateur

Article excerpt

LISTEN TO CERTAIN Bad Religion songs (say, "Land of Endless Greed" or the classic "We're Only Gonna Die") and you might take the punk band's lead singer, Greg Graffin, for a bit of a downer. He would disagree. "Any believer in education is actually inherently optimistic," says Graffin, a natural scientist who earned his Ph.D. in zoology at Cornell University and coteaches a course there.

For more than three decades, Bad Religion has tried to push its listeners to think critically. Many of the challenges that Graffin has been singing about over that time-including the threat of climate change and the overreach of powerful institutions-remain as pressing and contentious as ever. But as a student and teacher of evolutionary history, which unfolds in eons, not election cycles, he is surprisingly even-keeled about the pace of progress. "To make the important changes that we have to make in the 2lst century, humans have to think of the long term," he says. "But it cuts both directions. The solution to our energy crisis is not going to come in a single president's administration. …

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