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.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Michael’s Picks

By Michael De Dora
* Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will hold “opposing” rallies in Washington, DC, this Oct. 30: the “Rally to Restore Sanity,” and the rally to “Keep Fear Alive.” I hope to be there.
* Another well-done article from The Onion: “God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule.”
* An interesting feature piece in The Wall Street Journal on a U.S. military chaplain in Afghanistan and his soldier guard – who is an atheist.
* John Shook has caused a bit of a stir in the secular community with an essay on The Huffington Post in which he asks, “How did know-nothing atheism and lazy theology grab the spotlight?”
* A five-minute clip from a recent debate I attended between Peter Singer and Dinesh D’Souza, over whether morality does, or even can, come from God.
* Former Sen. Al D’Amato (R-NY), stood up to what he called “racist bullsh*t” on a recent FOX News appearance.
* Can science tell us right from wrong? Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Patricia Churchland, Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn, and Peter Singer will discuss this question at Arizona State University this Nov. 6.
* Do graphic warning labels on cigarette packages really deter people from lighting up? Karen Schrock investigates in Scientific American Mind. (The magazine also recently ran an unrelated but equally thought-provoking article on the mind of a psychopath).


  1. The WSJ article was great, thanks. The Onion article is good but really really old. there's no link for the D'Amato thing.

  2. Jim, thanks for the heads up, I've added the D'Amato link (I either forgot to embed it or else it got lost in transition).

  3. I am shocked over this video discussion of the post office on many levels.
    First, that they seem to utterly disregard the fact that the Post office was never intended to make a profit; it is to foster communications (and some transport) and connect the nation. Much like the highway, road and rail systems.
    The blithe assumptions that Homeland Security needs to be privatized?? What the hell?
    Then the smugness and rank arrogance of the commentator, laughing at Senator D'Amato; while judging that most of the American middle class, which he puts in airquotes, needs to be brought down? This is elite business authoritarianism and cheap labor conservatism at their worst. And they act as if it is just completely natural to cater to every corporate interest that exists. And their standard of judging the number of to many post offices as being more than McDonalds? Misleading and manipulative; forgetting the fact that there are still many rural areas that rely on post offices to a much greater degree than the internet, that rural post offices often serve as impromptu community centers, that poor and the elderly are much more likely to use post office services than newer methods, and that for many people the Post office is the only visible symbol that they ever see of the US government.
    I know that this is not the most closely reasoned of arguments here, but I am so appalled and angry at the state of their thinking that it is difficult to write better. A full analysis of their ideas would take a lot more room and time, but it would be worthwhile to expose the level of Cheap labor/pro big business thinking just simply assumed as true in this exchange.

  4. Saw the soldier story already after a link from SEB. Don't know if I should laugh or cry about it...

    And oh dear, the post from John Shook is the classical Courtier's Reply, and as such deserves the classical deflation. "Taking (-theology-) crystal gazing seriously enough to competently debate (-God-) fortune telling should not be beneath (-atheism-) skepticism." Also, he forgot to mention which theology I am supposed to take seriously. That of traditional Aztec religion or that of contemporary Wahhabi Islam?

  5. Why does a philosopher of the stature of Singer even bother with the likes of an intellectual clown like D'Souza? I could understand Hitchens, but Singer?


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