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, January 30, 2006
Even Kurt Vonnegut sometimes gets it wrong
Vonnegut went on to say that “our bodies are miracles of design,” and that this “couldn't possibly be explained by natural selection.” Note, of course, that Vonnegut is a self-declared secular humanist (as he pointed out in the same interview), and that he surely doesn't invoke supernatural explanations of any sort, much less of the type advocated by Christian fundamentalists. Then what exactly is he talking about?
It's possible that even Kurt fell for a sort of post-modern critique of science, where because science is a social activity carried out by human beings (true) it follows that scientists are a special interest group (also true) that will be pursue its goals regardless of empirically verifiable truth (absolutely and fundamentally false). Or perhaps at the end of his career he feels like he can talk about anything, despite an obvious lack of understanding of the subject matter. Or maybe he was just in a bad mood, or was playing his role of iconoclast beyond reasonableness.
Whatever the case may be, Kurt, you were wrong on this one, and what you said is not going to help the cause of reason for which you have done so much throughout your long career. I saw you in person a few years ago at the University of Tennessee, and I have read most of your books. You are still in my pantheon, and I will still be quoting your work whenever I'll have the chance. But please stay out of things you don't understand, the unreasonable don't need further ammunitions for their irrationalist campaigns, ok?