My profile in the Chicago Maroon

Well, I’m informed by the writer, Lee Harris, that the Chicago Maroon has just posted her profile of me, and you can see it by clicking on the screenshot below.

I suspect it will be controversial since I repeat my support of euthanasia for terminally afflicted newborns, call out the Identitarian Left for its shenanigans, and promote the idea of determinism and lack of free will. But it also has cool stuff about my lab wall (something I haven’t written about here) and about my beloved squirrels. Photos were mostly taken by Lee; the one below is for an upcoming book and was actually taken by photographer Mike Myers (I’ll ask them to correct it).

If you read it, remember that this is a transcript from a conversation, not written prose. But I’m pleased with it; it’s fair and balanced and—I hope—interesting.

And some photos with the Maroon’s caption:


  1. GBJames
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Subscribers to your blog? Say what?

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Note that not once did I say “blog”. The writer used that term. I failed to acquaint her with my adorable quirk that it’s called a “website.”

      • ladyatheist
        Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        So many adorable quirks. So little page space.

    • Posted February 16, 2018 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      … Provocative Emeritus Websiter*

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 16, 2018 at 2:56 am | Permalink


  2. glen1davidson
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Looking good!

    So the Maroon profiles, does it?

    Glen Davidson

  3. GBJames
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    All in all, not a bad article. Good that he let quotes do most of the work.

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Lee is a she. She’s one of the best writers I’ve seen for the Maroon, and I’m lucky she was the one who did the profile.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Tripped up by an ambidextrous name! (I had a cousin named Lee who was a he Lee.)

        • Paul S
          Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          Your cousin was a furry Polish princess?

  4. Simon Hayward
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    The juxtaposition of your comments on the tactics of the left, with the post that immediately preceded this one, was amusing. Seemed like a pretty fair presentation, please keep us updated with any complaints!

  5. Denis Westphalen
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    No cowboy boots!?

    • RGT
      Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      No cats!?

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      It was only an hour interview! Lee saw the cats but crikey, it’s already a long piece.

  6. Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    That is a good article! I agree it is accurate and fair.

  7. DW
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    The real burning question: Why is your lab refrigerator empty? 🙂

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      The interview was after lunch? He snuck the champagne home? It was a fast day? 😀

      Most enjoyable article, and good pics too.

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      It’s an incubator, and I asked for that to be corrected. The lab refrigerator, of course, contains food.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 15, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Ah, I was wondering about the complexity of the control panel. Makes more sense for an incubator, particularly if you need to do things like imitating day-night temperature differences.

  8. Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    … he was paraphrasing theoretical physicist and atomic bomb developer J. Robert Oppenheimer’s statement, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”)

    … who was quoting the Bhagavad-Gita.

  9. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Love the blue shirt – textures etc

    I enjoyed Lee’s article, but it was too short. It misses out why you were driven to write your two non-technical books. And your sardonic sense of humour isn’t on display. Short on the Kitties too! But still – good stuff.


    “…But isn’t it satisfying to know that 14.6 billion years ago, there was a gigantic inflation of the Universe, and before that, there was no time?

    time may not have begun at what is thought of as t=0 in an inflation-dominated ‘early’ universe, time can be eternal into the past with no singularity. Explained HERE

  10. Christopher
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    GASP! What are those things on your feet?! I mean, I assumed you must own other types of footwear and even put them on occasionally…

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      It was slushy; I don’t wear cowboy boots in weather that can ruin them.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    “Mike Myers” — did Wayne bring Garth along for the photo-shoot? They’re not worthy.

  12. Serendipitydawg
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    We have such an overwhelming feeling of agency. God knows how we got it; probably through evolution, but we don’t know.

    Did you invoke a deity other than Ceiling Cat? Shame on you.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Very nice profile, Jerry. Kudos to Lee Harris for such a solid, professional piece. (I’m sure you straightened him out that Oppie was quoting the BG.)

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      She (note the sex) took that from my website post; it didn’t come up in our chat.

  14. Steve Pollard
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    A very revealing article (in a very good way); good for the Maroon!

    The first comment on the original article contains some disobliging observations, which include describing the commenters here as head-nodding non-experts.

    The second comment notes that Ceiling Cat is always watching. Does PCC(E) think it worth responding to the first one?

  15. Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    It is a really well written portrait of you.

    I was surprised by two facts:
    a) that you converted (!) to determinism and that this just happend some years ago
    b) that this started by a specific paper of the biochemist Anthony Cashmore. (I will read it)
    Does Cashmore know that he changed your mind?

    I didn’t know either that you agree with the standpoint of Peter Singer to late abortions a view I share too.
    And to your opinion, that there is no way for any standard of objective morality I couldn’t agree more.
    But because of that, I cannot follow your view, that the notion of the absence of free will increase empathy feelings of human beings. I think there is even a greater probability for an increasing indifference and a greater lack of empathy.

  16. BJ
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I love it, but it’s an incomplete portrait. No mention of Honey, long-time partner and confidant? What kind of journalism is this?

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Last I recall hearing, the estimate of the universe’s age was around 13.8 billion years. But, hey, you know what they say: a couple hundred million years here, a couple hundred million years there, pretty soon you’re talkin’ some real time.

    • Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Yep, 13.7 billion years. I was thinking of the Earth, which was 4.6 bya, and it got mixed up. That’s what happens in a conversation where you don’t have a chance to read it first.

      • Posted February 16, 2018 at 12:15 am | Permalink

        The latest estimate is 13.8 billion, by the Planck satellite’s data.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 15, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      We’ll make a geologist of you yet.

  18. Posted February 15, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Yes, a very nice article. I recall one or two interactions with student newspapers that did not end so well.

  19. rickflick
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    A good interview. I see some rather weak objections in the comments. But, I suspect Jerry is very well liked by most everyone.

  20. Vaal
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I think the article was terrific. It really let Prof CC speak for himself, and one learns a lot about his various viewpoints. And I’d think he’ll have his flak jacket on for the reactions 🙂

    I have admit that seeing this part:

    “While he recognizes the merits of deterministic empathy, Coyne maintains that a scientific worldview precludes any standard of objective morality.'”

    …makes me a bit squeamish.

    Just because I disagree, and side more with Harris on this one (a stance I arrived at long ago anyway). I don’t think there is a knock down argument for it but, at the very least, to me objective morality is more plausible than alternative arguments.

    Naturally I whole heartedly support and endorse Prof CC’s arguing anything at all he believes, publicly!

    But what makes me squeamish is, having been in the trenches debating religionists for so long, and defending the idea that atheism doesn’t entail a lack of morality (and that secular morality can have a firmer basis than supernatural morality), when a prominent scientist declares objective morality incompatible with the scientific worldview, it seems to hand that ball right over to the other side that we’ve worked so long to keep out of their clutches. At least…that’s the optics, which can count for a lot in of itself.

  21. Mark R.
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    That blue shirt you’re wearing in the photo is beautiful; toned down aloha.

    Great piece, glad to know you Professor, very glad indeed.

  22. Diane G.
    Posted February 16, 2018 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    A most enjoyable read! Very well-written as well; smart writers don’t get in the way of their subjects. I suspect impressionable young college students will be inspired to re-examine some of their current views; and I know that a bunch of us fellow 60’s/70’s era liberals will be heartened to see what used-to-be mainline liberalism portrayed so well and justifiably.

  23. Posted February 16, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Thanks for defending pure research for the sake of curiousity. So many pure researchers feel they have to bafflegab an answer about “well, maybe cure cancer” or whatever.

  24. Posted February 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Top interview. Well written.

  25. shelleywatsonburch
    Posted February 16, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Just read it. I think it was wonderful, although I have to agree that this web site is far too prolific and informative to be called a *gasp* blog, for crying out loud.

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