Tag: New York Times

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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Will the federal government continue coddling AIG?

December 19, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Will the federal government continue coddling AIG?

Fascinating Op-Ed in today’s NYT, written by three former prosecutors (ELIOT SPITZER, FRANK PARTNOY and WILLIAM BLACK) who are demanding that AIG be forced to release voluminous emails in its possession that would allow the public to understand the economic meltdown that cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, including 180 billion dollars to AIG. I agree entirely. There is no reason for delay. It’s time to turn AIG inside out, that much is clear. The only thing that is unclear is whether the politicians in Washington DC can muster up the courage to represent the taxpayers rather than the big banks.

Here’s an excerpt from the Op-Ed piece:

aig-emails

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Nothing about our economic system has really been fixed, or even diagnosed, and time is running out.

June 7, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Nothing about our economic system has really been fixed, or even diagnosed, and time is running out.

According to SANDY B. LEWIS and WILLIAM D. COHAN, nothing about our economic system has really been fixed or even diagnosed, and time is running out. This is the theme of a powerfully and clearly written Op-ed piece in today’s New York Times, entitled “The Economy Is Still at the Brink“:

We’re concerned that nothing has really been fixed. We’re doubly concerned that people appear to feel the worst of the storm is over — and in this, they are aided and abetted by a hugely popular and charismatic president and by the fact that the Dow has increased by 35 percent or so since Mr. Obama started to lay out his economic plans in March. But wishing for improvement and managing by the Dow’s swings are a fool’s game . . .The storm is not over, not by a long shot.

Lewis, who owns a brokerage house and Cohan, a Wall Street banker, succinctly present the problem and some solutions:

Six months ago, nobody believed that our banking system was well designed, functioning smoothly or properly regulated — so why then are we so desperately anxious to restore that model as the status quo? . . . Instead of hauling out the new drywall to cover up the existing studs, let’s seriously consider ripping down the entire structure, dynamiting the foundation and building a new system that rewards taking prudent risks, allocates capital where it is needed, allows all investors to get accurate and timely financial information and increases value to shareholders and creditors.

The authors lay out numerous areas of concern, many of them in the form of pointed questions. Why, indeed, haven’t we taken steps to change the system? As Einstein once said, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Lewis and Cohan urge President Obama to take these real steps, to get serious about the faux solution so far imposed (the massive injection of federal money in the absence of any systematic fix).

Instead of promising the imminent return of good times, why isn’t Mr. Obama talking more about the importance of living within our means and not spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need? . . . We are 139 days into his presidency, and while there is still plenty of hope that Mr. Obama will fulfill his mandate, his record on searching out the causes of the financial crisis has not been reassuring.

Lewis and Cohan’s Op-ed is must-reading and disturbing reading.

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The wacky preachers of white candidates. Exhibits A & B: John Hagee and John McCain

May 4, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
The wacky preachers of white candidates.  Exhibits A & B: John Hagee and John McCain

Are you bored by those endless replays of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? If so, Frank Rich of the NYT recommends that we visit YouTube to search for “John Hagee Roman Church Hitler,” whereupon we will be “recharged by a fresh jolt of clerical jive.” What you’ll find is a white televangelist, the Rev. John Hagee, […]

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