Category Archives: Humanity

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Tech who had been offered and accepted a faculty job at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, had his offer rescinded when the administration discovered that … Continue reading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

Is Work Necessary?

I saw this bouncing around Facebook, and I would like to endorse the underlying philosophy: For those of you still using text-based browsers (hey, remember Lynx?), here we have Buckminster Fuller making a point about work and responsibility in a … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity | 58 Comments

Purpose and the Universe

On Sunday I was privileged to give the keynote address at the American Humanist Association annual conference. Even better, people actually showed up for the talk, which for a Sunday morning event is pretty sweet. The talks were live-streamed, and … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Science and Society | 86 Comments

Boston

The tragedy in Boston is one of those things about which there’s not much to really say, at least at this point, although a great deal actually will be said, as people work through their shock and outrage. I lived … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity | 4 Comments

Social Failures

A school shooting in Connecticut has left 18 elementary-school children dead, as well as nine other people, including the shooter. An event like this will naturally lead to calls for stricter controls over guns. Which it should! There’s no reason … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Politics | 30 Comments

From Particles to People: The Laws of Nature and the Meaning of Life

That’s the charmingly grandiose title of a talk I gave at The Amazing Meeting this past July, now available online. I hope that the basic message comes through, although the YouTube comments indicate that the nitpicking has already begun in … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Science | 135 Comments

Moving Naturalism Forward

I’m very excited about a workshop I’ll be at later this month: Moving Naturalism Forward. By “naturalism” we mean the simple idea that the natural world, obeying natural laws, is all there is. No supernatural realm, spirits, or ineffable dualistic … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Science | 89 Comments