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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Introducing a new Rationally Speaking author: Ian Pollock

The RS group of writers is expanding again! It is my pleasure to welcome Ian Pollock to the blog. Ian has just published his introductory essay, on the topic of why we should hold our beliefs at arm’s length, and will now begin to contribute regularly to Rationally Speaking.
Ian is a graduate engineer from Calgary, Canada, currently working in the electrical power distribution industry. He enjoys puzzles enormously — especially those itchy, perennial ones at the intersection of science and philosophy.
Something of a dabbler by nature, Ian’s particular interests this week include probability, practical ethics, alternative energy sources, “life hacking,” and consciousness. His approach to such questions has been heavily influenced by LessWrong-style rationalism, by Daniel Dennett and Gary Drescher, and not least by Rationally Speaking itself, of which he has been a devoted reader for several years. In keeping with the quotation from David Hume that serves as the RS motto, he finds friendly argument to be one of the most enjoyable (garden) paths to truth.
Ian looks forward to hashing out several specific issues on Rationally Speaking, such as: whether “acausal decision theory” (Drescher/Yudkowsky) makes sense; how to reason in cases of observer selection effects (anthropic reasoning); how to overcome akrasia (i.e., reliably act on long-term preferences); what probability is, possibly including a reframing of the “problem of priors”; the difference between “good” and “bad” reductionism; what to expect from an “explanation” of a phenomenon; how to move toward a saner environmental movement; and the relationship between “ought” and “is.” And that’s just to get warmed up...
When he is not pondering the Deep Questions of Life, the Universe and Everything, Ian is also an avid hiker, cat lover, foodie, and a fan of both classical and folk music.


  1. Welcome, Ian!!

    I enjoyed your first essay on this blog and have appreciated your many thoughtful, insightful comments in the past.

    Glad to have you contributing to Rationally Speaking!

  2. More posts! More posts!


  3. Thanks very much to all of you for the kind welcome! I hope you enjoy my stuff in future!

  4. As a fellow hiker - greetings. You seem to be biting off quite a lot up there. Let the chewing commence!


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