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.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora
* Scott Atran pens a very critical review of Sam Harris’ latest book, The Moral Landscape. 
* Roy Speckhardt applauds the Obama administration’s recent decision to reverse a Bush-era rule that allowed health care providers to deny medical services due to religious convictions.
* FOX News anchor Shepard Smith, still the lone voice of reason on that network, remarks that the situation in Wisconsin has nothing to do with balancing a budget and everything to do with busting unions. 
* Alison Gopnik of Slate discusses – and, I think, clarifies – the debate over women, science, and bias. 
* Also on Slate, a review of Seth Mnookins’s new book, The Panic Virus, which addresses the issue of how so many parents fell for the false autism-vaccine link.   
* Ryan Grim details the Republican war on Planned Parenthood. 
* Susan Jacoby writes a blog post critical of right-wing atheists
* Albert Pujols, perhaps the best player in baseball, is apparently struggling during contract negotiations between God and greed.


  1. Wow, Atran really did a job on Harris. Proving in effect that Harris is clearly not the writer that Atran is.
    When Atran attacks Harris' premises, I'm not sure he's right, but when he attacks Harris' persuasive mechanisms, Atran's dead on.

  2. Baron, what do you know, we agree on this one! (Though I do think Atran's attack on Harris' premises is also good.)

  3. Wow, what an interesting blog! Found this totally accidentally. Keep on the good work!

    Jukka K.
    PhD, molecular biologist
    Helsinki, Finland

  4. Michael, O'Reilly has not only been saying that from day one, but it is a real treat to watch him challenge GOP politicians, like the governor of Indiana, when they claim that it IS about the money. I'm not sure what you mean about reason but, compared to his colleagues in opinion TV, he is as reasonable as they come. I don't always agree with him, and he does occasionally veer to the other side of reason, but he is better than most of what I see in MSNBC. Perhaps your view of him is based on Stewards 'picks', re-picked by other liberal blogs. Maybe not.

  5. I thought it was great for Atran to knock on how Harris relies on expressions like "clearly" and "undisputably." Harris often, in this manner, resorts to pleading: "it's just clear--absolutely clear--that morality is about happiness and suffering. It's so clear, it's just clear, that's how clear it is! And if you dispute it, well, we should just ignore you. Because it's undisputable!"

  6. I wonder if the watchers of sports (among whose number I am not found) ever blame themselves for some of the excesses of sports stars or the sports industry in general?

    If no one was paying outrageous sums to watch others play a game (and immerse themselves in the associated memorabilia) then sports stars would not be treated as living gods and receive these million dollar salaries.

  7. Atran says good words. Atran good. Baron P and Massimo agree therefore they are also good and will also be blessed in heaven.

  8. Joseph - not much of a drinker, but was a bit drunk last night and wanted to hit the keyboard,

    I do agree with Atran and anyone else who tends towards moral relativism. And I was happy that others seemed to agree, whether or not we had the same reasons. The use of 'good' was my contribution to any discussion of morals when there is no context. The 'blessed in heaven' is what happens to good people, isn't it?

  9. DaveS: You sound sarcastic when you're drunk!


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