New on the Guardian: Should the Democrats Pander to Atheists?

For all their lip service to diversity and inclusion, the Democrats snubbed atheists at their convention and in their official party platform this election year. The convention was all God all the time, with not a word of acknowledgement for the increasingly important non-religious part of their voting base.Is there any hope for this partnership? I argue that there is, and that atheists' votes and political organizing has had a profound effect on the Democrats, even if their rhetoric hasn't … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: July 30

• Yes, the Green Party nominee Jill Stein is an anti-vaxer. Since Stein is an actual doctor, this is especially inexcusable. Note that Hillary Clinton is the only remaining presidential candidate who's pro-vaccine.• In very good news, a federal court strikes down North Carolina's brazenly racist voter ID law. They didn't even try to disguise what they were doing:As the court explains, North Carolina passed its omnibus voting bill, SL 2013-381, almost immediately after the … [Read more...]

We Need All the Brainpower We Can Get

I don't believe, as some people fear, that economic growth has come to an end.This is equivalent to saying that we'll never be any richer, more prosperous or more technologically advanced than we are right now; that you and me, the people alive today, are living through the zenith of human civilization. I find this implausible. Innovation and change have been churning away for thousands of years, and it's unlikely that we just happen to be living in the one era when it's all about to come … [Read more...]

On Human Negativity Bias

What was the best year in history? If you could choose any year out of the entire span of human existence so far to be alive in, which one should you pick?You could pick your answer for any number of reasons. You might choose to live in the age of exploration, or at the dawn of the scientific revolution, or in the company of great historical figures. But if you want the best chance of living a peaceful and happy life, if you're going solely by the numbers, then it's obvious: the answer is … [Read more...]

Ten Reasons Why Donald Trump Is Unfit to Be President

I've written about why Donald Trump won't be elected president, but I haven't spent as much time on the reasons why he shouldn't be elected.In part, this is because it's almost too hard to keep track! Scandals that, individually, would fell any other campaign, pile up so quickly with Trump that they blur together and their impact is lost. Besides, Trump's most devoted followers don't care what the truth is, either because they're enthusiastic for his message of white supremacy and … [Read more...]

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Doubt Is Not Our Product

In my Atlas Shrugged series, I wrote about the tobacco companies who tried to conceal the health risks of smoking by sowing confusion and uncertainty. The strategy was to counter all the scientific evidence with ginned-up studies and paid-to-order experts so that people wouldn't be sure what to believe. Their memos said that "doubt is our product" and that their goal should be "establishing a controversy" in the public mind.That story is an object lesson in how corporations that sell … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Ghostbusters

There's so much darkness in the world lately, I feel like we could all use a break to talk about something light-hearted. So how about that new Ghostbusters movie?I saw it over the weekend, and the theater was packed. If the internet backdraft has hurt the box office at all, which I doubt, it wasn't noticeable where I live.Overall, it was solidly entertaining. There weren't any huge surprises, but it was a fun popcorn movie and it met my expectations. If you liked the original - and if, … [Read more...]

The Rising Tide of Republican Extremism

Last week, in a failed last-minute bid to prove himself bigoted enough to be Donald Trump's running mate, Newt Gingrich said this:.@newtgingrich: "We should...test every person here who is of a Muslim background, & if they believe in shariah they should be deported."— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 15, 2016This isn't just unconstitutional, it's anti-constitutional. The idea of a religious test for American citizens, used for expelling those whose views are deemed … [Read more...]

On Seasteading and Liberlands

Libertarianism is an ideology of the frontier.Most political ideologies are built to answer, in some fashion, the question of how to get along with our neighbors. It may be through democratic persuasion, or melting-pot cross-pollination, or shared notions of duty and tradition. Libertarianism alone makes the assumption that you don't have to get along with your neighbors. You can limit your interactions with other people to whatever trades you find advantageous, and if you'd rather not deal … [Read more...]

The Injustices of the American Justice System

Again and yet again, America is bleeding. The latest eruption of protests and anger came in response to the brutal, unnecessary police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then the carnage in Dallas where a deranged sniper killed five police officers and wounded more before being killed in turn.Whether any of this will spur reform, or whether violence will only beget more violence, either way it's clear that there's a chasm between police and the communities … [Read more...]