Monthly Archives: February 2011

Christian Martin Gaskell’s Shabby Treatment by Gnu Atheists

Martin Gaskell is a University of Texas astronomer who applied for a job at the University of Kentucky, but because of his open evangelical faith, he was denied it. The following is what the search committee chairman wrote in an email to the department chair: … Continue reading

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American Imam Kamal Al-Khatib, Thomas Jefferson, and the Constitution of the United States

Kamal Al-Khatib is an American imam with a congregation and school in northern Los Angeles County, and in an interview conducted at his mosque late last year (now up in its entirety on YouTube), I asked him about Thomas Jefferson. The question clearly … Continue reading

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Critical Thinking Tip #6: Try These Four Fog Breaking Steps for Getting at the Truth of a Matter

Feel like you’re in a fog about what you should believe concerning a claim? Try running it through the following four criteria and see how well it holds up:   The claim is accompanied by evidence. If evidence is not … Continue reading

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Two Questions for Professors: Are You Demanding and Do You Teach Critical Thinking?

The following is in Salon today: [W]hat if the downward trend in learning extends into the echelons of higher education? That’s what Richard Arum argues in “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.” Arum, a sociology and education professor at … Continue reading

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Critical Thinking Tip #5: Distinguish Between Conscious and Unconscious Rationality in Yourself and Others

The following are the opening five sentences to Bertrand Russell’s essay, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”, which was first published in the midst of World War II, in 1943, but then broadly distributed after the war: Man is a rational animal—so at … Continue reading

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Biotech and Robotics: The Two Great Technology Waves That Are Coming

A pretty powerful quote from the BigThink website: [Managing Director of Excel Venture Management, Juan] Enriquez stresses that “life code” (the famous A, G, T, C of DNA) will have the same importance for the next generation as digital code (1’s … Continue reading

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The Courage of Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders

A revelation and change of heart, and an example to other politicians facing tough decisions:

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Zach Wahls Defends His Two Mommies

19-year-old Iowan college student Zach Wahls’s self-possession and public speaking ability is remarkable—and he was raised by a lesbian couple. Here he is defending his two mothers against a discriminatory law being proposed in his state:

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The Dirty Bomb Threat: Mass Destruction or Mass Disruption?

The Vancouver Sun claims that the WikiLeaks website has sent documents to the Daily Telegraph containing sobering news about nuclear, chemical, biological, and dirty bomb terrorism, including the following: A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink … Continue reading

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Mohamed ElBaradei Demonization Watch: Anne Bayefsky Links ElBaradei to Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Regarding American right-wing paranoia over the street protesters in Cairo (Glenn Beck calls them “rioters”), Jonathan Chait of the New Republic nails it: [W]hat’s fascinating is the emergence [among the right] of a strain of paranoid anti-Islamism that lumps together Iran, Mohammed … Continue reading

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Mohamed ElBaradei’s Democratic Revolution in Egypt v. George Bush’s in Iraq

Fox Noisers seem to be directing a lot of cynicism and vehemence toward Egypt’s democracy movement leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, and when I first noticed it, I was a bit stunned. Mohamed ElBaradei, after all, is not an Islamist, but a secular … Continue reading

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California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, Gives a Great Speech

California Governor Jerry Brown gave an extraordinary State of the State speech yesterday. He anchored it in democratic principle and didn’t in any way evade the budget issues facing the state. It reminds me of why I voted for him: And … Continue reading

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Is the Placebo Effect a Problem for Atheism?

Catholic journalist Denise O’Leary seems quite persuaded that the placebo effect stubbornly resists any plausible materialist explanation, and so is a problem for atheists. (O’Leary wrote, with a neuroscientist by the name of Mario Beauregard, an interesting book a few years back … Continue reading

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