Put Up Your Ideological Dukes!

fish shooting

Earlier this week, Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University, published a good op-ed on the danger of focusing too hard on the "critical" part of critical thinking. The combination of resistance to influence and deflection of responsibility by confessing to one’s advantages is a sure sign of one’s ability to negotiate the politics of learning on campus. But this ability will not take you very far beyond the university. Taking things apart, or taking people down, can provide the sat … [Read more...]

Debating Brendan Eich’s Resignation


This weekend, my DC friends and I will meet to hold a debate on the Brendan Eich debacle.  In order to assure civility, there will be cookies (to break bread together) and a gavel (for the enforcement of Robert's Rules and the potential breaking of kneecaps).  We've been trying to pick a resolution for the debate (though, at some point in the afternoon, I'll stop asking for affs and negs and call for speeches "on or about the topic").  Of the options we came up with, the best is probably the si … [Read more...]

The Epistemological Peril of Punching Down


Over at Slate Star Codex, Scott has an excellent post on the epistemological dangers of punching down.  I'm using a long quote, so that you can get the crux of the argument, but I strongly recommend reading the whole thing. What annoys me about the people who harp on moon-hoaxing and homeopathy – without any interest in the rest of medicine or space history – is that it seems like an attempt to Other irrationality.(yes, I did just use “other” as a verb. Maybe I’ve been hanging around Contine … [Read more...]

The Uncharity of Ideological Containment


There's an unpleasant undertone to Terry Firma's vision of a kinder, humbler Christianity over at Friendly Atheist.  He reads through an essay from The New York Times about a Christian parent's discomfort when her daughter wants to put an evangelical sign on their lawn.  The author talks about her immediate flinch, and Firma thinks that's all to the good. Along with that gratitude, there’s a bit of embarrassment woven through Taylor’s account, and I think it becomes her. She knows that her belie … [Read more...]

Pulling Off Casual Proselytization

chatting nun

In this week's installment of the Pope Francis bookclub, the then-Archbishop talked about "missionary joy" that invites people in to learn the source.  I was reminded of a nun who recently gave a talk in D.C. on Spe Salvi.  In her talk. she mentioned being asked on the street, "What is the reason for your joy?"When people ask a habited nun this question, they've got a reasonable guess as to what kind of answer they're going to get.  I'm less sure what to do when I get a similar qu … [Read more...]

An Inheritance of Joy [Pope Francis bookclub]


In 2014, I'm reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio's Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I'll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you're welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.After the introductions, the prefaces, and the translator's notes, the first two words I read by Pope Francis were "Apostolic joy."His reflections on living the Christian faith begins with this sentence: Apostolic joy is nourished b … [Read more...]

Inviting Someone to Debate a Person, Not an Ideology

doonesbury double negative single

Scott of Slate Star Codex has a good essay up that was prompted by the whole Duck Dynasty fracas.  Phil Robertson's comments on homosexuality aren't a first amendment issue; it was A&E that might be firing him for his speech, not the government cracking down, but Scott points out that, for speech to flourish, we need protections beyond legal guarantees: Constitutional freedom-of-speech is a necessary but not sufficient condition to have a “marketplace of ideas” and avoid de facto cens … [Read more...]