About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Friday, June 05, 2009

New occasional series: Massimo's Picks

Especially now that Rationally Speaking is available on a variety of platforms (Amazon, Kindle, FaceBook, Psychology Today blogs, and Scientific Blogging), I feel I should provide more posts for the readership. The problem is, of course, that the number of hours in my days has sadly not gone up, so I will keep producing one or two entries a week of original material.

However, I also read widely across the 'net, in part for my own curiosity and in part to get inspiration to write new columns. So, I thought, why not take the most interesting finds and post them on the blog for people to go and check them out?

Welcome to the first installment of the new occasional "Massimo's Picks" series! I hope people will find it useful and that it will generate more open and thoughtful discussion, which has been the hallmark of this blog's community (well, with a few exceptions here and there) for now close to three years and a whopping 444 posts (this being n. 445).

Ok, then, here we go:

* A book I recommend for critical thinkers the world over is Normand Baillargeon's A short course in intellectual self-defense. You can read by review of it at Amazon.

* Watch this commentary by Keith Olbermann on Dick Cheney contradicting Dick Cheney about the proved/non-existent link between Iraq and 9/11.

* From the social sciences: is phone texting going to cause health problems for the new generation of teenagers? Or is this another cooked up crisis from nowhere? Read about it in the New York Times.

* Here is an NPR piece provocatively entitled "Are spiritual encounters all in your head?" (Hint: yup!)

* Newsweek maintains, rightly, that health advice on Oprah can make you sick.

* Evolving Thoughts comments on the variety of logical fallacies.

* Michael Shermer writes on Scientific American about why people believe in invisible agents.

* Here is a CNN entry on why science hasn't delivered on (all) the promises of sci-phi novels. (Did we except it to?)

* A terrifying piece by Ralph Nader on corporate liability (or lack thereof...).

* And finally, a defense of libraries at Don't Know Much About.

By the way, don't always expect (or dread) a long list like this one, I had some older files sitting on my computer...


  1. I'm curious what amount of readers read your blog on those different platforms. Got any stats on that?

  2. The number of regular readers on the main site currently hovers around 3000. Some of the others (PT, for instance) provide statistics (in that case about 500-1000, but it's new). Still more, like Amazon, do not give statistics. So it's hard to tell...

  3. "Michael Shermer writes on Scientific American about why people believe in invisible agents."

    D'oh! I've been meaning to post something about that article myself, but had forgotten. I was going to recommend reading this article by Pascal Boyer in conjunction. And that anyone finding these interesting should consult Boyer's book Religion Explained.

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  5. Regarding the NT times article:
    "If you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so. The trick is to want the right things, then science will provide you with the most effective methods of achieving them."

  6. I think Keith Olbermann is great! Every night I watch him followed by Rachel Maddow, then Mike Malloy on the computer. Then there's your blog Massimo, Tom Degan's The Rant, Pharyngula, Alternet, Thom Hartmann, science magazines...ack! Information overload! How does everyone here manage their information overload? Do you think blogging helps since it is a way of prioritizing and thinking about the information you consume so you can write about it?

  7. Good question. Yes, blogging does help me to manage my information overload, to focus on what I think is important to write and read about, and to vent my frustration about the insanity of the world. If in the process I manage to help others as well, so much the better!

  8. "How does everyone here manage their information overload?"

    I don't. I feel like a hamster running on the stationary wheel. I've got books piled up around my house, bookmarks in partly finished books that I stopped reading because something else caught my eye, half-written posts that I haven're gotten around to finishing, bookmarked articles online that I haven't gone back to read yet ...

  9. Great idea, Massimo.

    "How does everyone here manage their information overload?"

    Information is overrated, methinks.

    I just let my lazy self be... lazy. I ignore the information. The only blog I follow is this one, and even then sometimes I end up staying away for a long while -- any other blog post I happen to read is an isolated post here and there as indicated by friends or something like that. I read my pile of books and magazines (Scientific American, always a year behind, and Smithsonian, even worse) as the urge arises, which means some of them have been sitting there for many months waiting their turn. No hurry, they ain't going nowhere. :-)

    After all, I have to have some time to practice music, play soccer (finally champion of my division in the Spring season, yay), play with Gato (see pic above), visit my girlfriend, hang out with friends, etc...

  10. Saw your moon article in Skeptical Inquirer. (They credit your employ to the wrong collece there). The arguement that co-formation theory is reduced by differing iron content should as well apply to the impact theory should it not?

    Hey, i just ordered a Kindle, but I fear the mags I read will not be available on it. What to do?
    I like your blog, first time viewed today. Steve@willey.com

  11. Steve,

    right, that argument applies to both theories. As for the Kindle, more magazines will be available for it with time, although currently they are stronger in the blogs area (they do carry Rationally Speaking, of course).


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