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.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Massimo's Picks

* My TAM talk is available at PlatoFootnote.org, just scroll down to the first link of the second group.
* Here is a picture you don't see every day (also from TAM)...
* Video of my talk about Nonsense on Stilts at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
* It's official: the Governor of Arizona is a nut job! (Or she is a lier.)
* The increasingly notoriously fluffy HuffPost (I mean, Deepak Chopra is a regular contributor) now even publishes pieces that blame nazism on Darwin.
* A priest molesting women (instead of young boys) is considered "refreshing" by right wing commentator.
* As it turns out, exercise really is good for your brain, science says so!
* Is freedom of the press an unqualified good? (Hint: nope.)
* You may not recall this, but back in 1962 the US was actually crazy enough to detonate atomic bombs in space. Among other objectives, to see whether it would disrupt the Van Allen belts!
* Are philosophers hopelessly lost in the clouds, and can we have a dinner party about it?
* And speaking of philosophers: what are they qualified to talk about anyhow?


  1. *groan*, I must have facebook to see the photo? No thanks. :(

  2. Didn't know there was anyone in the Western hemisphere without Facebook... ;-)

  3. That makes two of us. Brian, glad for the company.

  4. Since this is a post where you post your picks, I just thought I would share a pick for a great humanistic film, a Spanish one called El Mar Adentro, or the Sea Inside, which won an Academy Award. Its about a quadriplegic fighting for the right to die. It has a great scene of the protagonist and his caretaker sister in law telling off an arrogant priest. I am surprised I didn't hear of this film through the atheist/humanist community. The Netflix description is part BS though, there is no "reaching for the heavens".


  5. Brian and JP, don't sweat it, it is just a blurry photo of Massimo with Dawkins and somebody else I don't recognize. I could have lived without seeing it and resetting my Facebook password.

  6. Sheldon, sorry for the disappointment, I thought people might get a kick from seeing me and Dawkins smiling in the same photo. My little private joke. The third person is Dr. Ginger Campbel, host of the Brain Science Podcast.

  7. Now you and PZ, that would be worth signing up for.

  8. Massimo,

    There should be a link at the bottom of the photo that only you can see. That link will allow anyone with a facebook or not to see it.

    I am interested in some of the topics you pointed out in philosophy. I just earned a BA at what is considered a high-ranking philosophy dept. Let me point at one of the comments to your last link.

    "Again. These perfectly mediocre exercises in cultural commentary are not philosophical in any sense of the word.

    The only "arrogation" here is the use of the word "philosophy" to describe such utterly routine texts. Let's at least have some Searle if we are to be denied Wittgenstein. ;)

    I suggest an entry that sets out Searle's *very interesting* "Chinese Room" Gedankenexperiment.

    I believe readers of this otherwise less than lapidary Stone verbiage would be inspired by some real philosophical thought."

    This view on philosophy has turned the majority of us undergrads (and I admit we are mostly transfer students who started learning phil. at community colleges) from ever wanting to continue studying philosophy at an academic level.

  9. A friendly conversation between PZ and Massimo would indeed be worth paying to see. Two of my favorite bloggers and outspoken-atheists together? *swoon*!

  10. All I find for your TAM8 talk is your slides. Am I missing the text somewhere?

  11. Rich, that's right, only slides. You'll have to wait for when they oust the video...

  12. >
    A priest molesting women (instead of young boys) is considered "refreshing" by right wing commentator.<

    Enh, I don't think this is as deplorable as most people seem to think it is. This just seems to be a dry joke -- it's funny because it's a backhanded way of commenting on how relentless the stream of molestation-revelations has been, to the point where literally any change, even another awful crime, is a respite.

    It was unpolitic of him to say, but to interpret it as a thumbs-up for sexual harassment of women is quite a stretch.

  13. I'm surprised, Julia. This isn't a matter of political correctness. As the author of the article puts it, "“refreshing” is a term used to describe a Fresca soda or Sunday morning walk" not "one of the most harmful, degrading, deplorable crimes made on a child."

  14. Yes, and if you want to say that something like sex crimes is too horrible to make jokes about, then I can understand that position.

    My point was just that the original author was so clearly making a joke (the intended humor stemming from that exact incongruity of applying "refreshing" to something as horrible as sex crimes), and you can argue he shouldn't have made that joke, but I don't think you can argue that he was saying that sex crimes against women actually *are* refreshing.

  15. That's how sardonic humor works, Massimo.
    After a string of very bad crimes, a lesser crime can be sardonically called refreshing.
    So the real question here is whether homosexual molestation is worse than heterosexual molestation. I think that most people would say it is, and that bothers gays.

  16. Max, Julia,

    I think I have a relatively good degree of sense of humor. I *got* that the author was attempting a joke. But some jokes, like, say, most of Rush Limbaugh's, are awful and easily betray contempt for subject matters that ought to be taken more seriously. Besides, it wasn't that funny.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.