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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Massimo’s Picks

by Massimo Pigliucci
* So called family values, Newt style.
* Why so many Americans just don’t believe the science of climate change (or is it global warming?).
* Rationally Speaking's Lena Groeger on the politicization (or not) of psychological research.
* Thomas Kuhn infamous "ashtray argument."
* Old but good one: the idiocy and dangers of positive thinking.
* Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on abduction: as in inference to the best explanation, not aliens doing anal probes...
* A philosopher and a therapist comment about losing life's meaning.
* Philosophy Talk: one more take on free will.
* Discovering that you are a communist after Glenn Becks says so on tv.
* Physicists claim to have shown an experimental way out of the grandfather paradox in time travel. Not so simple methinks...
* French philosopher Pascal Bruckner argues that much of our misery stems from a perceived duty to be happy.
* Did Skeptical Inquirer get it wrong about deadly medical hypotheses?


  1. Abductive reasoning best serves our subconscious predictive purposes, while the deductive in turn serves our analytical purposes more fully than the inductive or abductive. Was that the gist of it?

  2. Well, calling the gist of it is a bit of a stretch, but there is something to your interpretation.

  3. As to losing life's meaning, i.e., our innate sense of purpose, we have the option of acquiring our own purpose? That the gist of it?

  4. Bruckner sounds like he's making an interesting point. He'll probably get dismissed as a crank, though, and then we'll go right back to talking about how we can keep maximizing our utility.

  5. As to meaning - I always tell people that 'What is the meaning of life?' is the wrong question. That one cannot be answered. The right question is 'Where is the meaning in life?' And the answer? - You either make it, take it or fake it, but no one gives it to you and in my opinion our society does an abysmally poor job of preparing people to face that conundrum. Unless you accept that the meaning of your life is to continuously buy stuff of course. Our culture is more than ready to foist that purpose on you.

    A related question 'What is the purpose of life?' is one that can be answered however - the purpose of life is to spread and turn as much non-living matter into living matter as possible for as long as possible.

  6. I loved the whole series of Errol Morris columns on Kuhn. Some great, thought-provoking writing and ideas.


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