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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora

* I recently appeared on the first video edition of the podcast Point of Inquiry to discuss the case of Alexander Aan, an Indonesian atheist jailed for allegedly “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred and animosity.”

* Speaking of Aan, he has reportedly penned a letter to supporters from his prison cell. Learn how you can help him in his fight for freedom here.

* A Louisiana federal district court has adopted recommendations declaring that a city’s ban on “palmistry, card reading, astrology, fortune-telling, [and] phrenology” violates the First Amendment.

* The clauses of Egypt’s new constitution dealing with the role of Islam and Sharia law and freedom of belief and expression, which are nearing finalization, will certainly not please secularists.

* Abraham Flexner writes in Harpers Magazine in 1939 on the usefulness of useless knowledge: “In this paper I shall concern myself with the question of the extent to which the pursuit of … useless satisfactions proves unexpectedly the source from which undreamed-of utility is derived.”

* Pot-smoking mothers are apparently tired of being negatively judged by wine-drinking mothers, says Corey Binns.

* The Boston Review recently conducted an interesting interview with philosopher Martha Nussbaum on her new book, The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age, which discusses the growing anti-Islam agitations in Europe and the United States.

* James Gray has put together a philosophy dictionary, which he calls “an attempt to comprehensively define all of the most important philosophy terms in a way that could be understood by anyone without requiring an extensive philosophical education.” Take a look. It’s both extensive and comprehensible.


  1. Michael,

    Nice job on the Point of Inquiry podcast.

  2. Here's a link to the Boston Review interview: http://www.bostonreview.net/BR37.4/martha_nussbaum_new_religious_intolerance_islam.php

  3. Whoops -- thanks S Johnson!

  4. By the way, there's an update regarding the first two picks.

    The Center for Inquiry has launched a formal petition to the Obama administration to press the Indonesian government to immediately release Alexander Aan and improve its protections for religious dissidents and nonbelievers. To guarantee a response, the petition must receive at least 25,000 signatures in the next 30 days.



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