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.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Some of Massimo's all time favs

by Massimo Pigliucci

I was recently in Oslo, visiting the Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis and giving a public talk before the local Skeptics in the Pub. One of the colleagues I talked to while I was there asked me for a short list of unusual papers I thought would be a good idea to read. So I went home and generated three such lists, reflecting my main interests these days: Skepticism, Philosophy, and Science.

The entries are below, with links whenever possible (sometimes to the full article, often to abstracts). The lists are very obviously neither a complete (far from it, focusing mostly on the past few years) nor a balanced survey. Rather, they are entries that I "flagged" as worth remembering in my personal database. Still, they may be of interest, and I'd like to hear from our readers their thoughts about my suggestions, as well as suggestions of their own. So, here we go (within each group, entries are arranged from the most recent to the oldest paper, they do not include books, and some are articles instead of technical papers):

  • 2007. H.H. Ehrsson. The experimental induction of out of body experiences. Science 317:1048.
  • 2005. J.P.A. Ioannidis. Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Medicine 2:e124.
  • 2002. A. Caso. Three skeptics' debate tools examined. Skeptical Inquirer, Jan/Feb:37-41. (This is the only one I couldn't find online, even on SI's own web site!)




  1. Massimo,

    Naturally, I could take issue with some of your selections, but I applaud two inclusions in particular: T.C. Chamberlin 'The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses' and Susan Haack's 'Vulgar Rortyism'. Chamberlin's paper really set one part of the stage for a Bayesian elminative inductivist framework and Haack called out the legerdemain which was Rorty's so-called work and influence on American pragmatism. The distinction really needed to be made between Peirce, James, Dewey, and Quine on the one hand and Rorty on the other, and Menand was wholly unwilling to make it.

  2. There is definitely a lot to digest from this list (and I love lists like this, so keep posting them). Here is my little contribution, so not as esteemed as your articles this title and abstract made me laugh (and I know you mentioned the book in the podcat):


  3. Good reads:

    2011. I. Douven. Abduction (Inference to the Best Explanation). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    2008. E. Jablonka & G. Raz. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: Prevalence, mechanisms, and implications for the study of heredity. Quarterly Review of Biology 84:131-176.

  4. http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/21st_Cent_View_Evol.html

  5. I was impreseed with two:

    1974. R.C. Lewontin. The analysis of variance and the analysis of causes. American Journal of Human Genetics 26:400-411.

    2000. B. Forrest. Methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism: clarifying the connection. Philo 3:7-29.

  6. By the way, here is a direct link to the full article by Cohen. He is one of the best writers and this is a true classic:


  7. Thanks for the list, it was great to have you over!


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