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In reply to my previous post on grants offered by the NEH to non-philosopher academics for creating novel classes on “enduring questions,” a philosophy professor writes to me in private: Interesting. I share your general sensibilities on this, but it’s not clear to me that they are being sought “to teach philosophy classes”. They are being sought to teach “old chestnut classes”. That may be because certain chestnutty issues are not really explored in accessible ways in “philosophy” classrooms per… Read more

RichardDawkins.net has reprinted a 2006 debate between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins, the prominent (and now powerful) proponent of compatibility between religion and science who has recently been selected by Obama to head up the NIH.  The article has some really interesting moments, so I recommend you read it in full.  Here is what I found to be the most salient exchange, followed by a clip of Dawkins discussing Collins on Bill Maher more recently. TIME: Both your books suggest… Read more

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Thanks to Pharyngula for the heads up to this one. Remember to visit The Far Left Side. Read more

The National Endowment for the Humanities is offering grants to academics outside of philosophy to develop courses on “enduring questions” that have long been the domain of philosophers and philosophy classes: They make the dubious and ambiguous claim that these questions are “pre-disciplinary” because they are, supposedly “questions to which no discipline or field can lay an exclusive claim. In many cases they predate the formation of the academic disciplines themselves.”  But: this remark, Bradley notes in his blog post,… Read more

Scientific permission to do what comes naturally: we swear not merely as a reaction to pain, but because it can actually reduce our sense of pain.The new finding comes from research that tested the hypothesis with a bunch (67) of college students and some ice cold water. Students were given a choice when they plunged their warm hands into the freezing water — chant a neutral word, or repeat a swear word instead. Those students who chose to swear reported… Read more

Luke Jerram is the artist behind this “interactive art project”: The pianos, which are secured to the ground with metal cables and have plastic covers in case of rain, have proved a huge hit. All of them are still there — outside the Natural History Museum, on Portobello Road, in Leicester Square and in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral, among other spots. None has been vandalized. People have tended to relinquish their places courteously after a while to allow… Read more

Whenever one of my friends starts to unfairly criticize him or herself, I like to demand of them that they “stop picking on my friend!  I think (s)he’s great!” Nonetheless I know the dangers of self-over-criticism too well first-hand and so I thought I’d pass on these tips from Melinda Beck for further help when the “stop picking on my friend” reasoning does not fully do the trick: Monitor your thoughts. Jotting down your self-critical judgments — I’m a loser,… Read more

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