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Tag Archives: critical thinking
Six years old. She’s called the “Little Missionary,” and the money is rolling in. Religion exploiting children. Is this a bug or a feature? Brazil’s evangelical revolution sees miracle healers take centre stage Poverty and technology contribute to boom of … Continue reading
People often claim that they’re appealing to reason in argumentation, but the way they reason frequently reveals more about them than the truth. Put another way, an argument often says more about your inward passions, sensibilities, and imaginative world than … Continue reading
From 16% to 23% of the American population. That’s how fast the religiously unaffiliated have risen in America over the past eight years. Stunning. The Republican Party and the Internet have ruined Christianity in America. Republicans have politicized religion, and … Continue reading
What’s God’s Sufficient Reason for the Evil in the World? And If You Can’t Think of Any, Should You Still Believe in God?
The principle of sufficient reason (PSR). God must have a sufficient reason for withdrawing and withholding his protection from the descendants of Adam for so tortuously long; for allowing them to encounter the full force of a psychopath’s or nature’s … Continue reading
Whatever Works: Pierce’s Abduction, Darwin’s Evolution, Entropy, Bayes’ Rule, and Rorty’s Pragmatism
I’ve recently been struck by the similarity between Charles Sanders Pierce’s notion of abduction (reasoning to the best hypothesis; “may the best hypothesis win”), Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (survival of the fittest; “may the best organism win”), entropy (what … Continue reading
I went to TAM 2014 in Las Vegas over the weekend and saw Julia Galef of the Center for Applied Rationality on a panel with philosopher Daniel Dennett. I’d never heard of Galef before this weekend, but she has a … Continue reading
At Feministing, Juliana Britto is impatient with privileged white males who, in conversation, play the “devil’s advocate” for non-feminist perspectives. Here are three quotes from her essay (as a representative taste): These discussions [surrounding patriarchy] may feel like “playing” to … Continue reading
Catholic Andrew Sullivan, in the context of reading the biblical scholar Bart Erhman’s new book, How Jesus Became God (Harper 2014), makes a crisp and refreshingly direct statement to his fellow biblical religionists who ignore expert consensus and the general … Continue reading
Forty reasons: Risk-taking alpha males. Coke using. Hookers. Nihilism. Amorality. The rich will turn their backs on society. Emotional blackmail: “You need us! Without us the economy will crash!” Abusers of the financial system will have well-prepared lawyers. The culture … Continue reading
I don’t like this t-shirt. It cheer-leads obfuscation, mystification, authority. A better statement would be, “I’m a professor. If I make a claim, doubt it and ask for the reasons and evidence I have in support of the claim. I … Continue reading
If you already believe something, should you attend to the opinions of naysayers, complexifiers, and qualifiers? It depends on whether you’re coming to an issue for therapy or truth. And the quality of the second opinion matters. Every liberal should … Continue reading
An Honest Liar will be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival 2014 in April. When it goes into wider distribution, I definitely want to see the whole film, but for now here’s a taste:
Matthew 27:51-53. Have you ever read it? Immediately following Jesus’s death, Matthew says that there was an earthquake that exposed numerous graves on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and “many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” Not only did many among … Continue reading
Physicist Alan Sokal, the famed skewer of postmodernism, in an article at Massimo Pigliucci’s Scientia Salon, gives faith a well deserved towel snap: “Faith” is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. “Faith” … Continue reading
The three word definition. The physicist Brian Greene, in his book The Hidden Reality (Knopf 2011), gives the best definition of information I’ve ever encountered: So, you start to ponder. What actually is information, and what does it do? Your … Continue reading
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, responds to alternative medicine woo pushers seeking easier criteria for inclusion in Wikipedia articles:
He’s dead, but who was Fred Phelps, really? He was a logician; a logician made flesh; the reductio ad absurdum of the anti-gay rights movement. God hates fags. It’s right there in the Bible. Thus he believed, thus he preached, … Continue reading
Science writer John Horgan (who is not a physicist) is intrigued by the recent evidence for the theory of cosmic inflation, but is also holding out for some additional confirmation, support, and explanation before he buys what some prominent physicists, … Continue reading
In the Preface to his eight-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1765), the literary critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) had some opinions about what makes Shakespeare so good. Here they are. See if you agree (and notice how many of them are … Continue reading