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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Michael’s Picks

By Michael De Dora
* Newsweek has a roundup of newly elected GOP lawmakers who are science deniers, yet likely to hold top science and energy posts in the House.
* In related news, it turns out one-third of a Republican-initiated report questioning current climate science was plagiarized.
* Al Gore has admitted his previous support for corn-based ethanol subsidies was “a mistake.” As suspected, corn ethanol lobbyists are not happy.
* The United Nations has weakened in its defense of lesbians, gays and bisexuals, in this regarding execution.
* Apparently the Catholic Church now thinks condom use can be moral, so long as it is to prevent the spread of HIV to another person. I’d call it a very, very small step in the right direction.
* The headline says it all: “For Roman Catholics, a Renewed Interest in Exorcism.” Looks like the church will need many more of those aforementioned small steps.
* Derek Araujo writes that President Obama has left in place many Bush-era policies on faith-based initiatives.
* Does Wi-Fi harm trees? A new study apparently claims the answer is “yes.” I'm skeptical.


  1. I would not characterize the GOP politician as being skeptical of science, but rather as anti-science.

    Being skeptical would imply that their position is somewhat rational, which most definitely it is not. I could be wrong, but I do not see many scientist or epistemologists between these politicians.

  2. The right only has a problem with science when it conflicts with their gut or common "sense". This shouldn't be surprising if you've realized their principle ideological consequent is egoism. They'll happily accept research that agrees with their world view; for instance, intercessory prayer showing benefit, but climate change?

    They're not anti-science or science-skeptics, they're idealist to the point of delusion.

  3. Except that's not what the Vatican said.

  4. Hilarious. The link to the summary of the study says that "no far-reaching conclusions can be reached and it cannot be concluded that Wifi transmissions cause damage to plants."

    The article says that "Over the last five years, the study found that all deciduous trees in the Western world are affected by radiation from mobile-phone networks and wireless LANs."

    Journalism FAIL

  5. @Martin,

    It turns out you're correct. I read a long essay in a Catholic magazine the other day that cleared this up for me.

  6. This is not specific to anyone, but I've changed some of the language in this post given reader suggestions.


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