Marvin Olasky

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture

Marvin Olasky is a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. He edited WORLD magazine from 1992 to 2021 and was a professor, provost, chairholder, and dean at The University of Texas at Austin, The King’s College, Patrick Henry College, and the World Journalism Institute from 1983 to 2021. He is the author of 28 books including The Tragedy of American Compassion, Fighting for Liberty and Virtue, Abortion Rites, Reforming Journalism, and Lament for a Father.

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Dr. Olasky earned an A.B. from Yale University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1976. He was a Boston Globe correspondent and a Du Pont Company coordinator, and has written 5,000 articles for publications including World, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Fortune.

Dr. Olasky is a Presbyterian Church in America elder and has chaired the boards of City School of Austin and the Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center. He has spoken on six continents and his writings have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Russian. He has been to 79 major league and spring training ballparks, all 254 Texas counties, and all three Delaware counties.

Marvin has been married for 45 years and has four sons, four daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He has been a foster parent, a PTA president, a cross-country bicycle rider, an informal advisor to George W. Bush, and a Little League assistant coach.


The Ray Bradbury Collection

Olasky Books January 2023
I’ll focus this month on books by and about four God-haunted genius writers: Ray Bradbury, Bob Dylan, John Donne, and Samuel Adams. The Library of America brought out last year The Ray Bradbury Collection, a two-volume assortment of stories and novellas by the science fiction and fantasy writer who died in 2012 at age 91. Captain Hart, the protagonist of Read More ›

Life as a Half-Full Glass

A 2018 book by biologist Nathan Lents is full of complaints about our bodies. Professor Lents has been answered in detail already.

On Rediscovering Humility

Olasky Books December 2022
This newsletter usually emphasizes secular books, but ‘tis the season to recommend books with Christian themes. I’ll start with Christopher Hutchinson’s excellent Recovering Humility (New Growth Press, 2018), which notes that “the surest way to a greater humility is to gaze upon Christ hanging on the cross.” True, and it all starts with a baby in a manger. Hutchinson wisely Read More ›

On Hitler’s First Hundred

Olasky Books November 2022
Peter Fritzche’s Hitler’s First Hundred (Basic, 2020) begins with a brilliant scene. At 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 30, 1933, conservative aristocrat Franz von Papen meets with Adolf Hitler, who wants to be chancellor of Germany — the CEO. Another key person in the meeting, nationalist media magnate Alfred Hugenberg, is wary of Hitler. The three are late for their meeting with 84-year-old Read More ›

Stephanie Creighton

With Creighton as with others, it may be that mental illness doesn’t go away, but at Eden Village it does not rule her.

Sunday Morning, New Orleans

What causes homelessness? Broken relationships, mental illness, and addiction are leading indicators, but some become ill from being on the streets. Societal errors have played a part alongside individual decisions. The expressways of New Orleans, like their counterparts in other cities, eliminated hundreds of homes and destroyed many small businesses.

On Thomas Kidd’s Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Kidd’s excellent and tightly-written Thomas Jefferson (Yale University Press, 2022) notes that our third president “touted frugality” in government, but his personal life was different. (As John Adams put it, “Jefferson has a habit as well as a disposition to expensive Living…. He could not Subdue his Pride and Vanity.”) This becomes poignant in relation to the slaves Jefferson owned. Kidd notes that Read More ›

On Desperate Remedies

Olasky Books September 2022
Doctors are supposed to live by the Latin phrase generally translated as First, Do No Harm: Primum non nocere. Andrew Scull’s Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry’s Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness (Harvard University Press, 2022) is a history of purported cures for mental illness that have often been worse than the disease. Desperate Remedies is so important and readable that for the first time I’m Read More ›

Homeless Encampments and Mental Illness

Fifty-one years ago I bicycled from Boston to Oregon. I was a Marxist then and looking for evidence of the American empire falling apart, but during the whole ten weeks on the road I didn’t see the one tourist attraction that would have delighted my propagandistic self: homeless encampments. Now every city seems to have them.

On How the World Really Works

In Austin, 29 of the 31 days of July featured triple-digit heat. Thus, far be it from me to joke about global warming concern — but reality makes cutting back on oil and natural gas very difficult. Vaclav Smil in How the World Really Works (Viking, 2022) notes that the best offshore wind turbines generate power only 45 percent of the time. Read More ›