Archive for May, 2016

American Humanist meeting: Day 2 — Why Evolution Is True

May 29, 2016

I went to one panel yesterday: “Humanism and Humor: Funny Ladies Discuss”, with Margaret Downey as moderator and featuring comedian and author Julia Sweeney and comedian and activist Leighann Lord (she also co-hosted Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson). I thought it might be a rather serious discussion of comedy and its implications for nonbelievers, […]

via American Humanist meeting: Day 2 — Why Evolution Is True

The Atlantic: Free will is an illusion, but we need to keep that illusion — Why Evolution Is True

May 24, 2016

Yes, I know I’m writing about two Atlantic pieces in one day, but so be it: such are the laws of physics. The second piece, much better than the article on FGM, is an essay by Stephen Cave, “There’s no such thing as free will but we’re better off believing it anyway.” I’ll try to be […]

via The Atlantic: Free will is an illusion, but we need to keep that illusion — Why Evolution Is True

An anthropologist justifies female genital mutilation — Why Evolution Is True

May 23, 2016

The concept of “choice” in a community that has long traditions about the subject of that choice, particularly ones connected with religion, is problematic. How many women “choose” the hijab or burqa in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan, where such clothing is not only connected with religion, but mandated by the government? The fact that […]

via An anthropologist justifies female genital mutilation — Why Evolution Is True

Why Evolution is True: Steven Pinker on Why Warfare is Declining

May 22, 2016

As you may recall, Science Contrarian John Horgan’s notorious “admonition to skeptics” blog post at Scientific American criticized the entire skeptical community for its supposed failure to campaign against war. That “hard target”, said Horgan, should take precedence over our attempts to attack “soft targets” like homeopathy, global warming denialism, and opposition to vaccination and GMO foods. But he also […]

via Steve Pinker demolishes John Horgan’s view of war — Why Evolution Is True

J. K. Rowling on Donald Trump and free speech — Why Evolution Is True

May 20, 2016

Now this is the proper attitude towards free speech, conveyed by J. K. Rowling at the PEN America gala in New York. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with Rowling about anything. Lagnaippe: as the Guardian noted: She ended her acceptance speech by pointing to the case of Tal Al-Mallouhi, who was arrested […]

via J. K. Rowling on Donald Trump and free speech — Why Evolution Is True

May 14, 2016

I’m busy today, but wanted to call attention to a new Pew survey, “America’s changing religious landscape”, which gives some good news to atheists and anti-theists. (The report’s summary is here, and the full pdf is here.) The upshot: the proportions of Christians, Catholics, and Protestants in the U.S. are falling, while the proportion of “nones” (those not […]

via Christianity continues its decline in the US, unbelievers and the non-affiliated increase — Why Evolution Is True

May 11, 2016

Micheal Eisen, a well known geneticist at UC Berkeley, has weighed in on genetics and l’affaire Mukherjee on his website It is Not Junk. As you’ll see from his post (click on the screenshot below to go there), he thinks that Mukherjee way overrated the significance of epigenetics in his New Yorker piece. I like the title […]

via Michael Eisen on epigenetics — Why Evolution Is True

Students at my own university vote down a resolution affirming free speech — Why Evolution Is True

May 11, 2016

Oy gewalt! How can this be? Walking over to the student union for lunch, I picked up a copy of The Chicago Maroon, the student-run newspaper. At the top was this headline: “Student Government tables free speech resolution.” I am appalled. I am shaking and crying right now. I can’t even. . . . How could […]

via Students at my own university vote down a resolution affirming free speech — Why Evolution Is True

Obama speaks out for free speech — Why Evolution Is True

May 9, 2016

Just a quick note, thanks to reader Barry who alerted me to this item. On last evening’s news, I watched part of Obama’s commencement address to the graduates of Howard University (a historically black college in Washington, D.C.), and I have to say that it was pretty stirring. Now, as his term comes to an end, […]

via Obama speaks out for free speech — Why Evolution Is True

Daniel Berrigan, antiwar priest of the sixties, dies at 94 — Why Evolution Is True

May 1, 2016

If you didn’t live through the antiwar protests of the Sixties, you may well not have heard of Daniel Berrigan or his brother Philip, activist Catholic priests (the former a Jesuit, the latter a Josephite). But to my generation they were heroes of a sort. Passionately antiwar and devoted to social causes like civil rights and […]

via Daniel Berrigan, antiwar priest of the sixties, dies at 94 — Why Evolution Is True