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.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Massimo's picks

* Why healthcare cannot be entrusted to a free market, according to Nobel economist Paul Krugman.

* Also by Krugman, why the so-called "blue dog" Democrats are probably hypocrites, or at the very least highly logically incoherent. And why are they Democrats anyway?

* And now for some laughs on health care: Stephen Colbert.

* A new mechanism that allows evolution to occasionally leap forward.

* Why the infamous "report" by Senator Inhofe on scientists who allegedly don't believe in human-caused global warming is bogus.

* Sam Harris on why Obama's appointment of Francis Collins as Head of NIH is problematic.

* New York City Atheists is the latest group to get a bus campaign going, and the message is remarkably restrained!

* Why you shouldn't rely on the Huffington Post for health advice.

* Does language shape the way we think? Apparently, yes, in rather surprising ways.

* Accusing atheists of being "fundamentalists" is nonsense on stilts, says the Economist.

* Just for laughs: William Shatner does Sarah Palin...

* Don't forget my new blog: Gullibility is Bad for You!


  1. I still find it remarkable how similar the epistemology of global warming and evolution denialism are.

    I think we should give credit where credit is due, however. It Inhofe's "report" but it was put together by his staffer Marc Morano, a former employee of Rush Limbaugh and one of the first Swift Boaters.

  2. I liked the post about evolution, it was obvious that it was not a straight road to evolved, but I do not know why it took so long for people to discover it.

    Regarding language shaping the way we think, I do not completelly agree with this womans thougths, they do not convince me, is kind of a hunch, not a rational stuff.
    Besides I am conviced it works both ways, the brain sahpes nature and nature is shaped by the brain itself

    Thanks for the links

  3. Just putting my two cents in and saying I really enjoy the "Massimo's Picks" posts. Also, Massimo, did you recieve my email about the Dawkin's Trilogy? My internet connection has been spotty recently so I'm not sure if things are working properly.

  4. Jordan,

    thanks for the appreciation. I have answered all emails I got about the Dawkins trilogy, so I am guessing I didn't get yours. Please try again.

  5. Hi Massimo,
    Here is a tip on maybe a future pick. Fascinating article with new developements about Erik Prince, Christian zealot and owner of private mercenary contracting firm Blackwater (or Xe).
    Here's a teaser:

    "The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."


  6. That Nation article should probably be read in conjunction with Jeff Sharlet's "Jesus Killed Mohammed":

    He found his lieutenant, John D. DeGiulio, with a couple of sergeants. They were snickering like schoolboys. They had commissioned the Special Forces interpreter, an Iraqi from Texas, to paint a legend across their Bradley’s armor, in giant red Arabic script.

    “What’s it mean?” asked Humphrey.

    “Jesus killed Mohammed,” one of the men told him. The soldiers guffawed. JESUS KILLED MOHAMMED was about to cruise into the Iraqi night.

    The Bradley, a tracked “tank killer” armed with a cannon and missiles—to most eyes, indistinguishable from a tank itself—rolled out. The Iraqi interpreter took to the roof, bullhorn in hand. The sun was setting. Humphrey heard the keen of the call to prayer, then the crackle of the bullhorn with the interpreter answering—in Arabic, then in English for the troops, insulting the prophet. Humphrey’s men loved it. “They were young guys, you know?” says Humphrey. “They were scared.” A Special Forces officer stood next to the interpreter—“a big, tall, blond, grinning type,” says Humphrey.

    “Jesus kill Mohammed!” chanted the interpreter. “Jesus kill Mohammed!”


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