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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Massimo's picks

* The American Museum of Natural History displays a collection cabinet that belonged to Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the principle of natural selection.

* Academic careers ain't all they are cracked up to be. Duh.

* Steven Pinker's review of "What the Dog Saw," by Malcolm Gladwell.

* CFI's "blasphemy contest" is over: the winner entry says "Faith is no reason." I liked better one of the runner-ups: "I wouldn't even follow your god on Twitter."

* Steven Novella on the physical basis of consciousness.


  1. Pinker's review of Gladwell (he really was reviewing the man) hit the mark. In a way, Pinker was reviewing large swaths of the popular science genre. So much popular science is written by journalists who don't understand what they're writing about, struggle to think quantitatively, and try to support this-or-that social ideal.

  2. Massimo,

    Here's the comment I submitted to Gibson's article about the blaspheme contest:

    As a Christian, I’d just like to simply affirm the winning blasphemy-blurb: “Faith is no reason!” Faith certainly isn’t a REASON, but who says we invest ourselves in Christ without rationale? If it’s just a matter of believing, then why not Buddha or Mohammad?

    Instead, there’s many compelling reasons to embrace Christ. It may start with a subjective, life-changing encounter, but it doesn’t stop there. Christ provided many solid reasons-to-believe. He performed miracles before multitudes, which even Jewish sources confirm. He prophesied so that His followers would believe after the events took place. And then He capped it all off with a grand finale – He willingly went to the Cross to affirm everything He did and said. Even His resurrection is surrounded by sound historical evidence – so sound that even the atheist historian Gerd Ludemann confesses:

    “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”

  3. Mann pulls out the old Christian trick of using "evidence" from within the Bible itself to argue for the Bible's accuracy.

  4. Richie,

    You suggest that I'm guilty of a slight-of-hand, but a magician I'd never make!

  5. Damn and double damn! Can you imagine walking into an antiques store and finding ARW's collection cabinet? For $600! I know that was 1970's dollars and might be comparable to say $3000 today but still... even in my state of penury I'd buy that in a minute.

  6. Rationally Speaking blog? Lots of Fun

    Article on Consciousness? Stimulating

    (in 1 of the comments) "Jeezmoid Fundies"? Priceless


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