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, October 07, 2012

Ian’s Picks

by Ian Pollock

* The late Marxist philosopher Gerry Cohen gives a spirited defense of what he calls conservatism about value. Video presentation here. Transhumanists in particular (and sympathizers, like me) will find a lot of stuff here with which they could fruitfully engage.

* I don’t suppose anyone reading RS is ignorant of the wonderful xkcd comic. But did you know about the weekly “What if?” column at the same website? Here is a wonderful example of that column:
I can pick up a mole (animal) and throw it. Anything I can throw weighs one pound. One pound is one kilogram. The number 602,214,129,000,000,000,000,000 looks about twice as long as a trillion, which means it’s about a trillion trillion... if anyone asks, I did not tell you it was ok to do math like this.
* Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian politics and on organized crime, writes an excellent Russia-watching blog called In Moscow’s Shadows. Here is an entry that speaks to issues important to skeptic types.

* The Economist reviews Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Pharma (on my reading list). The fact that Goldacre has written extensively before criticizing various forms of alternative medicine does not hurt his credibility here.

* You all know about Khan Academy, right? Because that is some seriously low-hanging utility.

* Speaking of which, GiveWell discusses their evolving criteria for charity evaluation.

* And now, some levity: Kate Evans’ (aka @aristosophy) witty and erudite twitter feed.


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Ian!

    -- Mark Galeotti