Well – that was a long hiatus!
(“We’re Back!” by Lonely Island – very NSFW, as they usually are.)
Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past three years: ()
A commenter on the latest Stanley Fish blog post “The Last Professor” tries to make lemons out of lemonade out of lemons:
I also think that those who love the [humanities] enough to engage in arcane arguments in journals will continue to do so, whether paid or not by universities. We’re therefore looking at a future full of independent, hobbyist scholars — not the worst of all possible worlds. A return to the world of the gentleman-scientist, a reversal of the halcyon days when all the funding went to theology and fledgling geologists roamed the hills on their breaks from work as masters of divinity and grammar-school teachers. The world moves on, and so can we.
Not sure how I feel about that…
I just made a simple feed for ScienceBlogs posts containing “philosophy of science”, via Google Blogs, as a surrogate for their discontinued “Philosophy of Science” channel. I find the “Humanities & Social Science” channel it was subsumed into a bit much (60+ posts a week), and this one should only get a few per week.
My favorite thinktank is in financial trouble! Just got the following email from Paul Kurtz:
The Center’s vision stands threatened by today’s worldwide financial crisis. The crisis has struck hard at the Center for Inquiry and its affiliate organizations — including the publishers of Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines. That is why I am appealing to you, dear friend, to help us overcome the grave fiscal crunch that the Center for Inquiry and its affiliates now face.
What do I mean by “grave”? I have completed a careful review of our finances. If we fail to raise an additional $865,000 by the end of the year, the Center for Inquiry and its affiliates will be compelled to enact harrowing cutbacks…cutbacks that will spare nothing, not even core operations. The Center for Inquiry has always depended on the support of readers and friends like you. With your generous support we have thrived; by that means we will survive our present adversity. We will survive — and so much more. But only if you help!
We believe that the Center for Inquiry has a vital role to play in our contemporary civilization. All too often we find ourselves the lone voice of rationality, surrounded by a discordant cacophony of faiths and irrational beliefs. We strive to promote scientific methodology and science education. We have a positive and affirmative message. President-elect Obama has said “all things are possible,” and we agree. We believe that human beings can and should strive to achieve the goals they consider worthy, no matter how difficult these may seem. This attitude that “all things are possible” is exemplified in the Center for Inquiry’s ambitious agenda: to defend reason, science, and freedom of inquiry even as we create new secular institutions as alternatives to the ancient religions.
Consider that the global community may actually be more receptive to secularism today than ever in history. Today’s economic predicament could not have struck at a more challenging time — or at a time when our ideals face so bright a potential.
Yes, “all things are possible,” but not without the financial resources to fund them. The vital work of the Center for Inquiry and its affiliates cannot be sustained without your support. Your generosity, in concert with that of other readers and friends, can prevent an intolerable outcome.
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These are the guys who put out the fantastic podcast Point of Inquiry. I’ve been thinking of joining them for awhile, and perhaps I will now… after some budgeting of my own.
This month’s Best Person in the World is Richard Lenski, a biologist at Michigan State University.
How do nonreligious people identify themselves? Most religious surveys don’t look very closely at the nonreligious — the last Pew survey didn’t include the term “humanist,” for example. Personally, I like humanist, atheist or “nothing”, depending on the context.
the first ever rigorous survey instrument designed specifically to gather demographic and attitudinal information exclusively about America’s non-religious community. Past surveys have been based on religious individuals, with the non-religious being little more than an afterthought. Professor Galen will begin data analysis soon, and later in 2008, he will give [Center for Inquiry Michigan] a special presentation to us on the results of the survey.
I got an invite through CFI and posted it somewhere for others, before realizing it was a unique URL meant for a single participant. (Oops.) The invite suggested the participant pool is restricted to members of atheist/etc. organizations (including members of their email lists, apparently), but if you really want to take it, try emailing email@example.com.
All three above-the-fold cover stories in the NYT Science Times this week hit on different aspects of what’s becoming a major interest of mine – the interface between the harder sciences and more right-brained aspects of being human.
The main article is about mindfulness meditation being used in therapy. I find this interesting, but the article points out that the science supporting whether it is beneficial is pretty thin at this point, and there’s a risk of it becoming a fad.
Next is an article about a new curriculum at Binghamton University (NY) aimed at putting the sciences and humanities in dialogue. I was not encouraged by the inane statement by one of the creators that “There are more similarities than differences between the humanities and the sciences,” but otherwise it looks very good.
But perhaps most intriguing was an article on a woman who is marketing a placebo for parents to give to their children when all else fails ()
Still working on the paper; got a gracious extension from the professor.
The more Carl Rogers I read, the more I like him:
I love the precision and the elegance of science…. I like to create hypotheses and I like to test them against hard reality. I dislike fuzzy and personal emotional statements when they are given out as general truths, even when I respect them as expressions of the person….
But I am also a person. A therapist. An individual who has lived deeply in human relationships. Here I come up with some other values and views which have equally deep meaning for me…. such terms as personal freedom, choice, purpose, goal, have profound and significant meaning.
But there are boundaries to my regard for the subjective. I find that the elaboration of the subjective alone, as in some of the more far-out existentialists, is as unacceptable to me as the rigidity of a closed, impersonal science. As I read some of these existential writers, I feel that here we are entering into a situation in which history is repeating itself. We have suffered enough from the dogmatism of an unscientific Freudianism which initially enlightened us and then bound us into a rigid straitjacket.
[A]s a person I stand in both camps — the world of the precise, hard scientist, and the world of the sensitive subjective person.
(“Some thoughts regarding the current philosophy of the behavioral sciences,” J. of Humanistic Psych. V:2, fall 1965, pp. 183-185)
Browsing the early issues of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology last month for my paper, I came across a review of a book by the American psychologist Eugene Gendlin. I’d seen his name once before in an unlikely place — a booklet by a British Quaker writer named Rex Ambler, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.