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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora
* Research suggests that while most Americans identify as “conservative,” they do not identify with conservative ideas.
* Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, we learn that the Vatican ordered Irish bishops to not report child abuse.
* This is an old essay, but I just discovered it: Austin Dacey argues that secularists are mistaken in supposing that as religion collapses, a new institution must arise to serve the same social functions as religion.
* Tea Partiers like to think they are torchbearers for the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Bill Maher sets the record straight.
* The editors at Newsweek write that an assault-weapons ban would not violate the Second Amendment.
*Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald details how the Obama administration has deceived the American public about WikiLeaks.
* More evidence that Sarah Palin’s political career is all but over.
* An amusing comic about string theory, from XKCD.


  1. Dacey said: "The secular house has many mansions."

    True, but while I, too, am a "disorganized humanist", I think he's too hard on organized humanism. As long as there is a market for connecting the dots between "metaphysical truth" and "community and morality", religion will remain in business. I can think of no good reason why humanists (and/or secularists/naturalists/atheists/etc.) should not participate in that market. More to the point, neither can Dacey (as far as can tell) - except to suggest (without explanation) that organized humanists somehow lack "beautiful architecture and professionally trained musicians." That he and I both prefer to "sleep in late on Sunday mornings" is a shared personal preference or bias, not a rational argument.

  2. Read about the internal WikiLeaks revolt.

    WikiLeaks was set to release the Iraq trove on Oct. 18, according to ex-staffers — far too early, in the view of some of them, to properly redact the names of U.S. collaborators and informants in Iraq.

    “The release date which was established was completely unrealistic,” says 25-year-old Herbert Snorrason, an Icelandic university student who until recently helped manage WikiLeaks’ secure chat room. “We found out that the level of redactions performed on the Afghanistan documents was not sufficient. I announced that if the next batch did not receive full attention, I would not be willing to cooperate.”

    “You are not anyone’s king or god,” wrote Domscheit-Berg in the chat. “And you’re not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader.”

    “You are suspended for one month, effective immediately,” Assange shot back. “If you wish to appeal, you will be heard on Tuesday.”

    Then Snorrason, the Icelandic university student, resigned after he challenged Assange on his decision to suspend Domscheit-Berg and was bluntly rebuked.

    “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier and all the rest,” Assange wrote Snorrason. “If you have a problem with me, piss off.”

    Snorrason expressed some concern that Assange’s decision to release the massive database would impact the legal case of Pfc. Bradley Manning...

  3. Ah guns. One must simply love guns (or those who do might shoot you). Why is it I wonder that the first part of the Second amendment never gets onto bumper stickers? "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state..."

    Well regulated. I wonder how many gun owners would consent to being 'well regulated'. Not many from my experience and what I read in the media. And just how many of them belong to well regulated militias? I suspect that percentage is not close to 100.

    But one step at a time I say. A logical first step would be making sure that the prospective owners of guns can actually see. Now that would be progress. Doubtless the NRA would object.

  4. You guys should rename this the "rational politics and religion" blog. I understand the rational link you make but,with all FOXes and MSNBCs out there, perhaps you guys can shift your focus somewhere else. Or, perhaps, you should hire a libertarian blogger than can make this a more "fair and balanced" blog. Believe me, there are plenty of us libertarians in the skeptics movement.

  5. Benny, as you know, you are one of the few quasi-rational libertarians I've ever met in my life, and this blog is called *Rationally* Speaking. (At this point I would normally insert an emoticon, except that Benny really hates them.)

  6. I resent the "quasi' qualifier.
    I did say that I see the link but, you are running the danger of becoming the MSNBC of the rational blogosphere. (and thanks from abstaining from emoticoising)

  7. Thanks for the link from Truthout on American's mis-identification to being conservative. I think the reason they think this is because they are constantly being told that they are conservative. Lately I have been thinking that politics is mostly about persuasion, and many people could be persuaded otherwise.

  8. There are a bunch of political tests online, where you answer loaded questions to determine your political identity. The political compass is a famous one. Then, there's the World's Smallest Political Quiz, which tries to show that Americans are really Libertarians. Take it with a grain of salt.


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