RSSCategory: Skepticism

What scientific concept would improve everyone’s cognitive toolkit?

January 17, 2011 | By | Reply More
What scientific concept would improve everyone’s cognitive toolkit?

This question from The Edge and the dozens of thoughtful answers make for some good reading. Basically, each author picks a single idea they feel is necessary for everyone to “get” in order to understand the world we live in; to have a successful technological civilization.

I found this via Pharyngula, who suggested that the Mediocrity Principle may be The One. That is, the basic understanding that we are not the special reason for the existence of the universe. His argument is that basic math skills would help. We’re talking about skills that even average college students seem to lack, but are nominally taught to most people who graduate secondary schools.

Adjacent to PZ, Sue Blackmore argues for the primacy of understanding that CINAC (Correlation Is Not A Cause). Apparently this lesson is hard to drum into even college students who are nominally studying science.

Most of the answers are direct explanations of ideas necessary to scientific understanding. But a few are more of the “what would be nice to discover” variety. But go see for yourself. There are many insightful replies to this question by 160 authors.

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Expelled founder Paul Kurtz explains his departure from the Center for Inquiry

October 2, 2010 | By | 14 Replies More
Expelled founder Paul Kurtz explains his departure from the Center for Inquiry

On May 18, 2010 the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry jointly announced that they had accepted the resignation of Paul Kurtz from each of these boards. Kurtz, who had founded each of these three organizations, had been serving on each of the boards, and as well as serving as Chair Emeritus of CSH and as Editor in Chief of CSH’s flagship publication, Free Inquiry. In the joint announcement, the boards recognized Dr. Kurtz for his “decades of service to the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), and its other affiliates.” This same announcement also contained the following statement:

At Paul Kurtz’s behest, CFI and its affiliates began years ago to organize a leadership transition. Moreover, in recent years the board had concerns about Dr. Kurtz’s day-to-day management of the organization.

As a long-time subscriber to Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer, I was familiar with many of the writings of Paul Kurtz, but I had never before spoken with him or corresponded with him. As a result of reading his articles at Free Inquiry, I was also aware that there was internal tension at those organizations (e.g., see here , here, and here).

After reading about his resignation, I emailed a short note to Mr. Kurtz to wish him well in light of the announcement of his resignation. I also asked him whether he would allow me to interview him with regard to the announcement. He agreed:

[Note: CFI’s CEO Ron Lindsay responded to the following interview of Paul Kurtz here.]

EV: To what extent was your resignation from the Center for Inquiry voluntary?

PK: It was done voluntarily, but under great duress.

[caption id="attachment_14572" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Paul Kurtz (Permission by Wikimedia Commons)"][/caption]


EV: What were your titles and job duties prior to your resignation.

PK: I founded the modern skeptics movement and sustained it for over three and a half decades. I had been the Chairman of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. In June, 2008, I was made “Emeritus” and stripped of any authority. Since 1980, I was Editor-in-Chief for Free Inquiry, but starting in June 2008, I no longer had any authority. I never received any compensation working for these organizations. I worked as a volunteer, living off savings I accrued while working as a philosophy professor. In fact, my wife and I donated more than $2 million dollars over the years to CFI, CSH and CSI. We were the second largest donors to these organizations. Over the years, I helped to raise over $40 million for the Center for Inquiry.

EV: I saw the announcement of your resignation in the August/September, 2010 issue of Free Inquiry. Why didn’t you publish any explanation regarding your resignation in Free Inquiry?

PK: Tom Flynn and the CFI Board refused to run my letter of resignation in Free Inquiry or any of the Websites of CFI. It was censorship, clear and simple. I was censored four times, beginning in June 2008.

[More . . . ]

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Tim Minchin

July 22, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More
Tim Minchin

I’ve recently discovered a new comedian and I would like to share. He’s an Australian, Mr. Tim Minchin. I forget now where I stumbled upon him, but he is a delight.

For one he’s a musician/composer, and, as a keyboard player myself, I have to admit to being envious of his chops. But his comedy…ah, this is something special. I urge everyone to go to YouTube and see all of the videos.

He is a skeptic. This video gives a fair example.

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Books for freethinkers

July 15, 2010 | By | Reply More
Books for freethinkers

The Center for Inquiry has published this list of books for freethinkers recommended by well-known freethinkers.

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Creation Science 101 and Other Ditties

March 27, 2007 | By | 3 Replies More
Creation Science 101 and Other Ditties

I spent too much time on YouTube this evening listening to Roy Zimmerman, folk singer. This video, “Creation Science 101” brought me in. I stayed for “Abstain With Me”, a jab at “Abstinence Only” Christian Sex Education. As an aside, he likened it to “Just Hold It” potty training. His “Let’s Go After the Buddhists” […]

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