Questioning Humanist Orthodoxy: Introduction to a SeriesMay 18, 2015
About ten days ago, I wrote an essay for Huffington Post on the death penalty, in particular, focusing on how some of those who oppose the death penalty support imprisonment in a supermax facility as a supposedly more humane alternative—a position I find logically dubious if not hypocritical. The recent decision of the Dzhohkar Tsarnaev jury to sentence him to death made me think about this issue again. It also made me think about how humanists all too often commit the cardinal intellectual sin of many of the religious. That is, they hold certain principles as beyond question. This is not a good thing.
We Should Not Evaluate Teachers Based on Student Test ScoresApril 15, 2015
We at the Center for Inquiry don’t typically address how best to evaluate teacher performance, but we are an educational institution. Moreover, we’re an institution that is committed to basing public policy on sound science. Using student test scores to determine teacher pay or whether a teacher should retain a job is a policy not based on science, but rather politics and deceptive intuitions.
Hemant Mehta Did Not “Endorse” a Hate ForumApril 9, 2015
As I’ve announced, I’m leaving CFI in December. Wish I could say that in the seven years I’ve been with CFI as president, the level of discourse in the atheist/skeptic community has improved. But I can’t say that. If anything, it may have become worse.
Resignation AnnouncementMarch 23, 2015
I have informed the board of directors for the Center for Inquiry that I will be resigning my position as president and CEO on December 31, 2015.
The Netanyahu Pirouette and the Obligations of the Israeli StateMarch 20, 2015
So Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has rejected a two-state solution. No, wait, that was the other day. He actually accepts, indeed, wants, a two-state solution. But hang on: it has to be under the right circumstances.
Pope Francis: About Your MotherJanuary 15, 2015
Pope Francis has given his opinion on the controversy surrounding Charlie Hebdo’s continued sharp criticism and sarcasm regarding religious beliefs. The pope has stated that there should be limits to free expression. In particular, one should not “insult the faith of others.” He analogized criticism of religious beliefs to someone cursing his mother, saying that such a person “can expect a punch.”
Pope Francis is wrong.
Islam, Religious Dogmatism, and TerrorismDecember 19, 2014
Recent terror attacks in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere have renewed discussion of whether it’s appropriate to use terms such as “Islamist” or “Islamic terrorist” to describe the perpetrators of such attacks. Some say that these terms unfairly denigrate and stigmatize the majority of Muslims who reject terrorism.
Physician-Assisted Dying and Same-Sex Marriage: The ConnectionNovember 17, 2014
Two major changes in the American legal landscape are in progress, although one change is further along than the other. I’m referring to the legalization of same-sex marriage and physician-assisted dying (PAD), a.k.a. physician-assisted suicide. Same-sex marriage is now legal in over thirty states and, depending on action by the Supreme Court, may soon be legal nationwide. PAD is currently legal in only four states, but initiatives to legalize the practice are underway in several other states. Just last Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill that would legalize PAD in that state.
A Statement from CFI’s Management CommitteeNovember 12, 2014
As a rule, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) does not disclose to the public the medical conditions of its employees. We respect the privacy of our employees and public disclosure of this information could violate the law. However, the situation discussed in this statement is exceptional.
Some Observations on One Aspect of the 2014 ElectionsNovember 6, 2014
Everyone is talking about the new Republican majority in the Senate. This is significant. It gives the Republican Party complete control of Congress. It will also make it very difficult for President Obama to have his judicial nominees approved by the Senate. But perhaps more significant in the long term are the Republican gains in the House of Representatives.