Category Archives: sociology

Is the world really getting poorer? A response by Steve Pinker

I don’t mean to be Pinker’s Fanboy, but I’ve had some recent correspondence with him that I thought would be enlightening to readers, and got his permission to share it. (The first exchange was about Pinker’s supposed misuse of quotations in Enlightenment Now, which turned out to be a kerfuffle about nothing.) Now we’re on to […]

The New Yorker goes after Pinker and his progressivism

UPDATE:  I forgot to add this picture of the plaque adorning the building where the New Yorker was founded. Check out the last sentence!     __________ Not long ago the New Yorker had an article about free speech whose message, at least to me, was that we have to ratchet back on the First […]

Americans often find it hard to distinguish between fact and opinion

There’s a new Pew survey out that asks a timely question, or rather several timely questions. How often can Americans distinguish between factual statements (that is, statements that can be empirically verified or disproven) and statements of opinion? And does that depend on whether the statements are congenial to their ideology? Does exposure to or […]

Pinker’s latest TED talk: Is the world getting better?

In case you don’t have the moxie to read Steve Pinker’s two latest books—The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now—you can see a summary of both in Steve’s new 18.5-minute TED talk. Posted three days ago, it concisely summarizes his theses that the world is getting better in almost every measurable way, that […]

More evidence that a caring government erodes religiosity

I’ve written many times about the increasing evidence that religiosity is negatively correlated with the well being of a society and its inhabitants. That is, those countries (and U.S. states) that have higher indices of well being are those that are the least religious. Of course, this is a correlation and doesn’t prove causation, but […]

Templeton poisons Aeon magazine with Catholic dogma

I believe I’m back on solid ground again with this post about the Templeton Foundation (in this case, the Templeton Religion Trust) and their incursion into Aeon magazine, a secular site devoted to “ideas and culture.” What we have here is an article by Manini Sheker whose work apparently wasn’t underwritten by Templeton—which would mean that […]

The effect of helicopter parents on their kids

“Helicopter parenting” refers to parents who incessantly hover like a helicopter around their kids.  Some have blamed this style of parenting on the palpable entitlement felt and exercised by this generation of college students. Reader Brian called my attention to this short (2-minute) video from the Atlantic, one of a series on parenting. The Atlantic gives some […]

A new book (and a video) on “Victimhood Culture”

I believe a reader recommended the book I highlight below, which I’ve just finished. It’s written by two sociologists who take a sociological rather than a polemic approach to their topic, so that they analyze both Right- and Left-wing instances of victimhood. (As we all know, both Christians and conservatives often paint themselves as beleaguered […]

The definitive refutation of those who say atheists are bigoted and alt-right

I wish I’d known of this article when I wrote my critique of faitheist Chris Stedman’s VICE article calling out the atheist “movement” for converging with the alt-right. As I noted at the time, Stedman was long on accusation, anecdote, and generality, and notably short on actual data. Are atheists really as bigoted, misogynistic, and […]

Jon Haidt on the University Paradox

You’ve surely heard of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt by now, as he’s been involved in discussion of morality, university culture, and political correctness for a long time. Previously at the University of Virginia, he’s now Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business.  Although he’s a liberal, he’s been somewhat demonized for criticizing […]