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Monthly Archives: May 2011
Eugenics Revival Watch: Scientific American editor, Mariette DiChristina, calls eugenic goals expressed in 1911 “lofty aspirations”
Curiously, the editor at the Scientific American website (Mariette DiChristina) recently approved the posting, with only minimal comment, of an editorial written in its pages 100 years ago, in 1911, advocating eugenics. Here are three quotes from the editorial: It is not … Continue reading
Gil Scott Heron died this week, and on hearing of this I remembered that he was on Saturday Night Live in its 1975-1976 inaugural season. (I love Saturday Night Live and like to watch the old ones.) Richard Pryor hosted that particular … Continue reading
Atheism’s Real Problem Going Forward: Universal Humanism vs. Johann Gottfried Herder, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Friedrich Nietzsche
The fact that we evolved from social primates, and not, say, loner sharks, is sufficient to account for human moral impulses. Aristotle famously defined us as the political (or social) animal. But being a tribal species in which demonized out-groups are … Continue reading
. If you don’t know what planking is, it’s where you have somebody take a picture of you lying, typically face down, rigid as a board, in an unexpected place. You then post it on the Internet. In the above photo, for … Continue reading
Speculating about counterfactuals is always dicey, but historians have long noted that, over the past 600 years, the course of human events might well have played out starkly different if China, in the 1400s, had not been so isolationist and uninterested in ocean … Continue reading
Just as Unitarianism is the featherbed for catching the falling Christian (Erasmus Darwin), humanism is the featherbed for catching the falling atheist. What humanism functions to conceal for the squeamish atheist and agnostic (and I am one of those squeamish agnostics) is … Continue reading
Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology at Duke University, has an interesting recent blog post on self-control, which he frames as a dual dilemma: should we intensively train ourselves to be serene Buddhas, indifferent in the presence of immediate pleasures that might undermine our larger … Continue reading
Harold Camping’s Apocalypse Fail Watch: To Be Rapture Ready, Adrienne Martinez Gave up on Medical School!
Concerning radio evangelist Harold Camping’s apocalypse prediction fiasco, the Christian Post this afternoon reports on a specimen of the human wreckage. Here’s what the past year has been like for the Martinez family (after Adrienne and Joel came under the spell of the May 21, 2011 rapture … Continue reading
Late last year, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on near death experiences (NDEs), and it included an aspect on the phenomenon that I’d never heard of before: near death awareness: In his book, “Visions, Trips and Crowds,” David … Continue reading
When I was recently watching online NOVA’s Smartest Machine on Earth—an exceptionally fascinating documentary on the IBM computer that defeated the two most accomplished (human) Jeopardy players in the game show’s history—it occurred to me that it won’t be long before … Continue reading
Theism vs. Atheism Watch: A Visual Analogy for God’s Creation of the Universe? Or Just Some Curious Coincidences Born of Matter in Motion?
The following brief YouTube video strikes me as an analogy for what the universe is actually doing (passing from a lower entropy state to a higher entropy state with lots of curious patterns appearing along the way). See if you agree. … Continue reading
It’s not just car factories that are disappearing from Michigan. Property owners in Troy appear indifferent to keeping their library open. Ironically, Troy’s official motto is “The City of Tomorrow, Today.” I guess libraries are relics of the past. Note the 1970s architectural style of … Continue reading
At The Daily Beast is the following rather arresting paragraph: “Interestingly and ironically,” says [University of North Carolina Chapel Hill religious studies professor Omid] Safi, “some of the Muslim societies that are the most repressive toward women or that have … Continue reading
Blogging at the Jerusalem Post, Barry Shaw offers a provocative take on Egyptian Christians, describing them as: . . . defenseless as were the Jews in Europe seventy years ago. And his advice to Christians as an Israeli observer is the … Continue reading
Maybe you shouldn’t be. The below chart was at Andrew Sullivan’s blog this morning, but I don’t know how accurate it is. It claims that long hours of sitting is deadly. Intuitively, this seems plausible. The information—if it is information and not, … Continue reading
What impresses me about President Barack Obama in the below video is not just his intelligence and good humor, but his humanity. This is a guy who quite evidently has gotten to where he is at by accepting his own proclivity for making … Continue reading
At Slate this week, Christopher Hitchens uses his gift for tart summing up to give the following obituary to Osama bin Laden: It seems thinkable that he truly believed his own mad propaganda, often adumbrated on tapes and videos, especially after … Continue reading
At New Humanist is an essay by Christopher Lane (adapted from his recently released book on doubt and agnosticism among the Victorians). Here is Lane writing about the (failed) defensive maneuvers taken by the Christian faithful against the rising cultural tide of religious doubt: … Continue reading
What does it mean, exactly, for Osama bin Laden to have been discovered so close to Islamabad (just 80 miles away)? I have a conspiracy theory. I think it means that there were at least some elements within the Pakistani military … Continue reading