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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora
* For the last three years, Gallup has called 1,000 randomly selected American adults each day and asked them about several different indicators of their quality of life. Responses were then converted to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Here are the results, visually displayed on a map of the U.S. 
* In the New York Times, Timothy Egan defends President Obama’s so-called “reflective dithering.” 
* Dahlia Lithwick argues that Justice Clarence Thomas just issued “one of the cruelest Supreme Court decisions ever.”
* Scientists claim that chickens have empathy because mother chickens reportedly show distress when their offspring experience pain in their presence.
* A new study suggests religious people are not happy because of their religion, but because of their social network.
* James Warren discusses research that explores why experts get it wrong. 
* Are federal employees overpaid? Republicans say yes, but The Associated Press finds that doesn’t necessarily hold up.  
* I’m not sure how this essay on the federal budget got published on FOX News’ opinion page, but I’m not complaining.


  1. Hmm, might that not also help illuminate the difficulties of persuading religionists to the Dark Side - need more than the force of reason alone? <^^,>

  2. Michael,

    A central claim within Kohn's opinion piece is that government activiy is the most efficient means by which to increase employment and create wealth. If it is with that claim you agree, then you should complain; you ought to complain about the poverty of your economic education.

  3. Religion seems to be correlated with well-being for the individual, but with major problems for a region. If religion itself is at least partly the cause in both cases, one wonders if that means that religion is a selfish strategy (perhaps unintentionally). Or perhaps a sort of large-scale prisoner's dilemma, where individuals are on average more comfortable if they are religious across a broad range of societies, but the best outcome is a society where religion plays little role.


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