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 11, 2010

Massimo's picks

* Apparently, the elusive g-spot doesn't exist. Here is xkcd's take on it.

* American missionaries partly responsible for Uganda's proposed death penalty for gays...

* ...While in the US the American Law Institute decided that, after all, the death penalty is a bad idea.

* Sam Harris pointedly responds to Karen Armstrong, perhaps a bit too pointedly.

* Liberal Arts education is under attack as useless, again. Even though employers keep telling universities that they need students who can think critically and write clearly.

* Irish atheists challenge their country's idiotic blasphemy law.

* Jason Colavito argues in eSkeptic that shows about the paranormal help the skeptics' message. I doubt it.


  1. Sam Harris does seem to get his knickers in knot! I'm not convinced that name calling and hectoring is the best way to win the day.

  2. The Jason Colavito essay is interesting. I'm not convinced the interpretation of "help(s) the skeptics' message" is complete or fully correct. The comments to the piece are interesting also, this one is humorous.

    Below the quoted title the comment reads:

    ~"This ABOVE is GARBAGE!

    The worst form of child abuse is corrupting their mind!

    “Superstition” is a corrupting influence!
    Wake up!
    How can you print such garbage?"~

    I think the problem with how the essay is viewed arises out of the balancing act Jason tries for. It really isn't different from many articles I've read over the years in Skeptic and Skeptical Inquiry.

    I think Jason is rather careful in his wording and is not the "in your face" rebuttal we are growing accustomed these days. He is nuanced and is offering a wider perspective that may be useful in understanding certain themes, outside of seeing something as purely bunk top to bottom.

    The final paragraph I think speaks to my thoughts above and a proper reading clearly shows we are not talking blanket acceptance of anything, selling out or intellectual might or praising "supernatural" themes as partners in creating skeptical awareness. Though, properly done we can create messages that instill insight beyond black and white posing.

  3. Regarding Sam Harris. I find it amusing and not to bad. However, I think it's an approach he's starting to take more often. In a way, like his "It's All True" (also a response to someone else) what I see is partly what I have come to term "Atheistic Apologia". In a way what I'm starting to see is what I predicted, which is these things seem desperate and aren't nearly as clever as commenters seem to believe.


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