June 15, 2020

Religion isn’t the only poison in the world. There’s also historical ignorance and bad faith. Since Christopher Hitchens published his anti-religion screed God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, we’ve become very accustomed to seeing anti-religion rhetoric posing as objective historical scholarship. Legitimate historians didn’t give Hitchens the time of day, because they realized his screed was just a self-serving slew of factoids that ignored every guideline by which historians abide in their work: objectivity,  acknowledgement of context, and… Read more

December 10, 2019

The New Atheist History Channel beats Comedy Central every time. Jonathan Miller died last month, and I was sad to see another of the Beyond the Fringe folks—as well as a groundbreaking Shakespeare director—leave us while so many hack writers and comedians are still around. My wife and I watched the videos of Miller’s appearances on Dick Cavett’s show from back in the day, where they traded quips about Miller’s interest in mesmerism. We also watched the video of his… Read more

September 19, 2019

Look out, you po-mo poobahs, King Crocoduck is heading up the Scientific Inquisition! A popular urban legend in the ’60s claimed that soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army were still holed up in remote Pacific islands, unaware that World War Two had ended decades ago. Similarly, YouTuber King Crocoduck is still fighting the Science Wars of the ’90s, evidently unaware that the combatants have largely found common ground. You can’t blame a smart guy like King C for getting tired… Read more

September 12, 2019

Can science determine morality? Since the Scientific Revolution, there have been various attempts to ground human morality in science. The goal to discover moral laws in the same way that science has discovered physical ones is a Promethean project that continues to occupy thinkers and writers to this day. Most notably, Sam Harris wrote a book called The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values that defended his moral realism with appeals to science. Considering Harris’s defense of torture… Read more

September 4, 2019

If mass shootings stop, what tragedies will we exploit for political gain? In the wake of a shooting late last month in Odessa, Texas which left several people dead, the blogosphere is full of people trying to evade responsibility for the phenomenon of mass shootings. Rather than address the matter of how best to define this complex cultural problem, everyone seems content to turn it into a partisan pissing match. Right Wing and Wrong Wing When conservative lobbyist Tony Perkins… Read more

July 26, 2019

Pro-lifers find me, and they find me irritating. After the recent Republican push to restrict women’s reproductive rights, I reposted my 2018 column Pro-Life Is About Oppressing Women. That’s All. This was a post that described the way pro-life propaganda erases women by focusing on the fetus; in it, I cited a post from the Patheos blog Catholic Working Mother, which discussed the matter of abortion and never once mentioned the mother. (Incidentally, I was just using Catholic Working Mother’s post as an example of a… Read more

July 18, 2019

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the Truth? You’d think at this late date, with Trump’s venal presidency in its third year and the Brexit debacle tearing Europe apart, there’d be no more deck chairs to rearrange on the Titanic. But instead of trying to identify the legitimate causes of the substantial problems with liberal democracy, pundits are still pointing fingers at the most unlikely culprits. Rather than expending time and effort to deal… Read more

June 27, 2019

Is the way to end racialized disparities in health care to racialize genetic medicine? According to statistics in published papers on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, there’s a wide disparity between the health of whites and nonwhites in the USA. The report Communities In Action: Pathways to Health Equity details the glaring inequities in our society’s health. Diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and HIV disproportionately effect minority communities. The inequities begin at birth: While… Read more

June 17, 2019

“Where’s Your Evidence?” is the slogan for conspiracists and atheists alike. What does that tell you? Bert Bigelow over at the A Tippling Philosopher blog recently said once again that conspiracy theorists have a lot in common with religious people. He has made this exact claim before, and I’ve done my best to rebut this mistaken notion to no apparent avail. Once more into the breach. Let’s Doubt Anything I’ve said before that in a former life, I used to be… Read more

June 11, 2019

Will nationalism and xenophobia win the day in Quebec? The clock is ticking on two bills currently being reviewed by the legislature in Quebec, an immigration bill and a measure to prohibit public employees from wearing religious symbols or clothing. If the proposals aren’t voted on by Friday, they’ll be tabled until after the legislature’s summer recess. The Values Test Bill 9 is a boilerplate immigration reform measure that the center-right government of the province says is necessary to keep immigration… Read more

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