Category Archives: Humanity

The Future of Democratic Values

Hey, did you know we are having an election here in the United States? I think I saw it mentioned on TV. Whatever your preferences may be, everyone eligible should try to get out and vote. This election has, without … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Politics | 72 Comments

Youthful Brilliance

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival. It was a busy trip — I gave a physics colloquium and a philosophy colloquium as well as a public talk — but the highlight for … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Humanity | 14 Comments

Being: Human

Anticipation is growing — in my own mind, if nowhere else — for the release of The Big Picture, which will be out on May 10. I’ve finally been able to hold the physical book in my hand, which is … Continue reading

Posted in Big Picture, Humanity | 19 Comments

From Child Preacher to Adult Humanist

One of the best experiences I had at last year’s Freedom From Religion Foundation convention was listening to this wonderful talk by Anthony Pinn. (Talk begins at 5:40.) Pinn, growing up outside Buffalo NY, became a preacher in his local … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Religion | 40 Comments

Life Is the Flame of a Candle

Last October I was privileged to be awarded the Emperor Has No Clothes award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The physical trophy consists of the dashing statuette here on the right, presumably the titular Emperor. It’s made by the … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Religion, Science | 79 Comments

How to Communicate on the Internet

Let’s say you want to communicate an idea X. You would do well to simply say “X.” Also acceptable is “X. Really, just X.” A slightly riskier strategy, in cases where miscomprehension is especially likely, would be something like “X. … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Words | 23 Comments

Troublesome Speech and the UIUC Boycott

Self-indulgently long post below. Short version: Steven Salaita, an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech who had been offered and accepted a faculty job at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, had his offer rescinded when the administration discovered that … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Humanity | 76 Comments

The Branch We Were Sitting On

In the latest issue of the New York Review, Cathleen Schine reviews Levels of Life, a new book by Julian Barnes. It’s described as a three-part meditation on grief, following the death of Barnes’s wife Pat Kavanagh. One of the … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Religion, Words | 77 Comments

Billions of Worlds

I’m old enough to remember when we had nine planets in the Solar System, and zero outside. The news since then has been mixed. Here in our neighborhood we’re down to only eight planets; but in the wider galaxy, we’ve … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Science | 60 Comments

Don’t Start None, Won’t Be None

[Final update: DNLee’s blog post has been reinstated at Scientific American. I’m therefore removing it from here; traffic should go to her.] [Update: The original offender, “Ofek” at Biology Online, has now been fired, and the organization has apologized. Scientific … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Science and Society, Science and the Media, Women in Science, Words | 84 Comments