SCIENCE JUNKIE – January 3, 2013
I never heard of historian Bruce Bartlett until I came across this conversation on Thom Hartmann’s Conversations with Great Minds, which has become one of my top-three go-to interview shows. By way of introduction, here’s part of a Paul Krugman quote I’ve used here before:
[T]he personality traits we associate with modern conservatism, above all a lack of openness, make the modern G.O.P. fundamentally hostile to the very idea of objective inquiry. If they want your opinion, they’ll tell you what it is; doubters of orthodoxy need not apply, and will in fact be persecuted.
Exactly. The modern G.O.P. has seceded from reality. You need look no further than their willful denial of realities such as climate change that don’t conform to their lockstep dogmas and agendas.
Professor Krugman is using the term openness in the sense of open to experience or open to new or different ideas. But lack of openness also applies to conservatives’ egregious public dishonesty and their habitual use of code words to disguise genuinely offensive positions on poverty, race, gender, sexuality, religion, and so much else. American conservatives represent the antithesis of openness in every sense of the word....
SCIENCE JUNKIE - 11.29.2012
Doing justice to the work of Chris Mooney – or any of my heroes in this series – in a few-hundred words is challenging because there’s such an abundance of fine work to choose from. So I’ll just cut to the chase and say he is probably my all-time-favorite interviewer, which is why I urge you to drop whatever you’re doing and tune in to one of his Point of Inquiry podcasts. The latest, an interview with leading scientific skeptic Steve Novella, will do just fine; but then so will any of them: if I chose a favorite today, I’d pick a different one tomorrow.
What makes Mooney a great interviewer, IMHO, is a combination of traits I value highly (and hope you do, too): he is erudite, well prepared, respectful, articulate, and a very attentive listener who always asks the pertinent question or comments in a manner that places his guest’s ideas in the larger context of culture and politics. The interviews are genuine conversations rather than prepared Q&A sessions. And it all comes off sounding so effortless as to warrant the term virtuoso. Hmm, maybe I should rename this series “Virtuosos of Science and Secularism.” Either way, hero or virtuoso, Chris Mooney qualifies. There are few public intellectuals, if any, over the past decade who have made a greater contribution to the defense of science and reason against irrational forces of ideology and superstition. As they used to say at Point of Inquiry, “Who would have thought science and reason needed defending?”... learn more
By Science Junkie – November 22, 2012
I supported and voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and again this year; but sadly, there were huge, negative changes in my thoughts and feelings this time around. Along with legions of liberals, I had come to have so many misgivings about the president that I would have much preferred a viable progressive candidate. But there weren’t any of those on any horizon I could see; and living in a swing state essentially meant that voting my conscience for a third-party candidate was tantamount to aiding Romney and his thugs, a prospect too odious to contemplate.
Enter Iris Vander Pluym, who has a column here and posts regularly on her own world-class blog, Perry Street Palace. She has argued persuasively, I think, against the lesser-of-evils stance that I and most liberals, e.g., Daniel Ellsberg, used to justify our support for Obama. So please do take time to read her six-part (!) critique of lesser-of-evilism, or at least Part 6. It may well persuade you that supporting most Democrats, even in swing states, is the surest way to perpetuate the relentless and shameful rightward drift in American politics.
Here is just one of her arguments:... learn more
SCIENCE JUNKIE - 11.15.12
I can’t think of anyone who has done more than Professor Dawkins to advance free thought and revive a long-dormant need to dispute the dubious – and often provably false – claims and practices of religion. His blockbuster polemic, The God Delusion (2006), propelled him into the public eye and reinvigorated age-old debates about both the truth and questionable social value of supernatural beliefs.
Dawkins wasn’t the only – or even the first – author to take religious faith to task after the 9-11 atrocity. Sam Harris really jump-started the militant New Atheist movement with his searing 2004 book, The End of Faith. And in 2007 Christopher Hitchens weighed in with another best-selling frontal attack on religion, titled God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and philosopher Daniel Dennett occasionally collaborated – do watch this brief video . . . and this one – and all took their erudition and wit on the road, speaking or debating in front of large, enthusiastic audiences and making frequent appearances on national TV. The results of their sustained efforts have been encouraging for secularists and nontheists and disturbing to many Christians, who are deeply offended by even the slightest critical scrutiny directed at their privileged sacredness exemption™. It seems they are so quick to take offense that one can’t help thinking they “doth protest too much.”
SCIENCE JUNKIE - 11.12.12
Okay, here I am, just two posts into this, and I’ve already reneged (but what else is new?). I know, I promised the first in a series titled Heroes of Science and Secularism (pretty sexy title, don’t cha think?), and what I come up with is a link to an article by the owner of a private insurance agency (and don’t you dare sneer until you’ve read what he has to say).
“Huh, how’d you get from there to here?” Fair question; here’s how:
Sinibaldi, who lives in St. Petersburg, FL, is one of my tens of
long-suffering email buddies™, a like-minded, progressive individual
whom I have never met face-to-face. I got to know John via email through
our mutual friend, the formidable and insanely talented Don Ardell,
who, as you already know, is one of TPJmagazine’s preeminent columnists.
confess that two days ago I did not fully appreciate the full extent of
John’s talent. Then he forwarded a link to this article he wrote in
2009 about the criminally corrupt and immoral (my inflammatory words,
not John’s) U.S. health-care-financing fiasco. And do read the comments
following John’s article.
pleased to report that the article has had wide circulation in
health-insurance as well as progressive health-care-policy circles – not
that any argument can budge those afflicted with the intractable,
recalcitrant condition known as conservative personality disorder.
Here’s all I wrote – all I needed to write – back to John Sinibaldi: “Thanks, John, I’m proud to know you.”
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