Category Archives: sociology

How many atheists are there in the U.S.? A new paper says about 26% of the population

The estimate given in the title suggests a much higher number of American atheists than estimates from other studies relying on self-report (e.g., “Are you an atheist?”). Those self-report estimates range between 3% and 11% (the authors of the paper below define “atheists” as “people who disbelieve or lack belief in the existence of a […]

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one”

I was telling a friend a joke today, or rather sending it via email, and I got a reply back: “You already told me that one.” At first I was chagrined at having to waste my friend’s time, but then I thought, “Wait a tick. Why did he say that?” As far as I can […]

Why is Pinker demonized?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a new and longish article by Tom Bartlett about the character, achievements, and demonization of Steve Pinker. Click on the screenshot below to read it. Let me give my own take on Pinker first. It’s no secret that I consider him a friend and admire him hugely. Among all […]

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 […]