The new religious Machiavellians

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The characteristic of the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian super-loyal endorsers of “Everything Trump” that continues to confound me most is how they have appeared to toss over three thousand years of classical Judeo-Christian moral/ethical thought in exchange for a decidedly-secular Renaissance ethical model, the famous one expounded by the Italian politician Niccolò Machiavelli. [1] Machiavelli’s famous dictum of “the end… Read more »

“Rent-seeking” and the socialist corporation

Charges of “socialist” seem to be emerging as primary attack strategy by Republicans toward Democrats as the 2020 elections fire up. It is, in my view, all an inane “Humpty Dumpty” twisting of the terms capitalist and socialist to mean “whatever I choose them to mean” in order to raise the ire of captive television and online audiences. In addition,… Read more »

Mind-body dualism and religion – the hard debate

In a prior post, I noted that the most-cited debate between science and religion, that of Darwinian evolution, is “the easy problem to solve” in this face-off. Millions of Christians and major denominational bodies have already come to a reconciliation with the science, simply by understanding, as St. Augustine of Hippo recognized by the early 5th century, that the short… Read more »

Science, religion and evolution – the “fightin’ words”

Human language is how we are supposed to communicate with each other, but during my experience living in the United Kingdom, I had some co-workers who spoke in forms of English so different from my Midwestern US flatness that I was able to capture, at best, about fifty percent of the meaning between accent and idiom differences. The debate between… Read more »

In an instant – the probability of February 29

If your birthday or wedding anniversary is February 29, your special day will pass this year in an infinitesimal moment at midnight. [1] The year 2019, when this is posted, is not a leap year, but given any random year, we usually think that the probability of it being a leap year, with a February 29, is one in four,… Read more »

Left-brain versus right-brain ethics

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NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam hosts an excellent podcast entitled Hidden Brain, focusing on the science of human behavior. A recent episode features brain researcher and psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, author of a book that tries to sort the myths from the science regarding the differences between our “left brain” and “right brain.” The two brain hemispheres sometimes appear complementary or mirrors… Read more »

Postage stamps and other big numbers

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A continuing theme of this blog is that humans have a difficult time grasping some basic math, even if their futures depend on it. A combination of “scare quote” stories I have read recently about the size of the national debt as well as discovering the new price of first-class postage stamps (now 55 cents) set my mind on the… Read more »

“Testosterone Rex” meets the U.S. Congress

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There has been no more interesting contrast in recent history than to see side-by-side photos of the swearing in of the 2019 U.S. House of Representatives. On one side, a diverse mix of young and old, men and women, and of various ethnicity. On the other side, a bunch of mostly-old white men like me, all dressed in dark suits:… Read more »

Can self-driving cars be moral?

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Caltech physicist Sean Carroll presents one of the best science podcasts, called Mindscape, and a recent episode featured philosopher Derek Leben. Leben has been researching how self-driving vehicles might be programmed when faced with what we would typically call a moral dilemma if faced by a human. For instance, if there were no choice but to swerve the car into a brick… Read more »

The math behind Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax”

Elizabeth Warren has come out of the presidential primary gate swinging with a proposal for a 2% wealth tax on assets over $50 million, rising to 3% on assets over $1 billion. Despite the freak-out by conservative pundits, I’d like, in this post, to put these numbers in perspective with a bit of basic math. This, in short, is not… Read more »