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.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Michael’s Picks

By Michael De Dora
* Bill Maher says rich people who complain about being vilified should be vilified. I can’t find much to disagree with in this New Rule
* Atheists and agnostics scored best on a recent religious knowledge survey (though they didn’t do particularly well), but Stephen Prothero is skeptical of the results. 
* Meanwhile, Bruce Feiler, author of “Walking the Bible,” sees the survey differently
* Americans vastly underestimate wealth inequality in the U.S., and support a ‘more equal distribution of wealth,’ according to a study. So basically, Americans are unknowledgeable socialists. 
* George Will writes in Newsweek that the Earth doesn’t care what is done to it in the long run. Great, now I can go dispose of that pesky old car oil in the East River!
* What do you believe happens when we die? Patheos gave me 250 words to sum up my thoughts. Here’s the final product.
* Massachusetts readers: I have two talks next week in your state. Tuesday I’m in Worcester talking about secularism, and Wednesday I’m at Tufts University discussing the present and future role of religion.


  1. How about this?

    Michael Behe's son turns anti-theist after reading Dawkins' book.


  2. Prothero is full of it. From the topline results, Appendix B, Q20-21, Atheists are listed at 1% and agnostics 3%. On Q27, 6% of respondents answered "no" to believe in god or universal spirit.

    Prothero says "the category of U.S. adults who do not believe in the divine is much larger than the category of those who describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics". Um, no. In fact, it's possible that due to rounding, the two groups are essentially the same size. Or it could be one is twice as big as the other. But even here, the difference is 3%, nowhere near "much larger" range.

    Then, Prothero says that he found out the 6% scored 18.7. (I assume the 18.5 mentioned later is a typo) So ignoring rounding, if the 4% (a/as) scored 20.9 and the 6% (non-divine) scored 18.7, that means that the 2% non-divine and non-atheist group scored only 14.3. What reason would you lump them together with self-identified atheists and agnostics other than to knock them down a peg?

    Of course, Prothero is an accommodationist as well.

  3. Regarding the Will column. Are conservatives like him really that dense? It seems at regular intervals you will see an article such as this where the conservative puts on the psuedo face of rationallity and wisdom to inform those silly left-leaning environmentalists that there is nothing we can really do to the big f**king rock floating in space known as Earth. Yes, we know. The Earth doesn't "care" about what happens to it. But we humans ought to care what we do to the Earth's eco-system for our own sake.


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