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, February 12, 2011

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora
* I’ve been poring over everything relating to Christopher Hitchens in preparation for my upcoming sit-down with the author. Here is the latest interview with Hitchens, an hour-long conversation about his illness and views with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN.
* The New York Times’ Magazine ran an incredibly interesting essay last weekend that discussed the scientific and legal issues surrounding shaken-baby syndrome.
* President Obama’s speech at the recent National Prayer Breakfast gives us a rare look into his religious beliefs. Susan Jacoby is not happy.

* Could religion be the downfall of the Tea Party? Amy Gardner of The Washington Post reports on a divide between Tea Partiers.
* The New Yorker has published an expose of Scientology. At 25,000 words, it just might be the longest article in the history of mankind, but it’s worth a read (though here’s a summary if you disagree with me).
* Jonah Lehrer writes on Wired.com about the neuroscience of music.
* A new bill proposed by Republicans would allow hospitals to turn away a pregnant woman who needs an abortion to save her life.
* Republicans also recently voted to repeal an Obama-backed bill that would destroy an asteroid headed for Earth. Just kidding, of course, though the gist of this story is summed up by a quote that strikes me as applicable elsewhere: “We believe that the decisions of how to deal with the massive asteroid are best left to the individual.”


  1. " I’ve been pouring over".........pouring what over these items? Tea?

  2. These were wonderful; particularly the article on neuroscience of music and the Hitchens interview.

    By way of a crude survey, do any fellow frequenters of RS play musical instruments? I've recently taken to banging away at the piano, with some enthusiasm if not skill.

  3. Neuroscience and music:

    There could be parallels in the ritual of religious experience here as well. Ridiculous passages of scripture exposited in church provide a *needed* dissonance, which then allows the golden rule et al. (scriptural tonic notes) to engender a profound consonance. Perhaps it keeps the believer coming back for more?

    Interesting Michael, thanks.


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