Category Archives: sociology

Is religion good even if it’s not true?: A deceptive piece in the Daily Beast

Reader Saul called my attention to a Daily Beast article called “Can you be good without God?” (subtitle: “New research raises questions about whether people can be truly good or truly bad without religion”) by Brandon Withrow, who teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay. I call the article “deceptive” in the sense that both the […]

Sociologist rebukes Dawkins for not seeing humans as “sacred”

Oh, the indignities suffered by poor Richard Dawkins! The latest is a rebuke by John H. Evans, a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego. Evans’s article in last August’s New Scientist found its way to me today (click on screenshot to get partial article; it’s not free), though for some reason its title […]

Homeless in Chicago

Here’s how a small group of homeless people deal with the winter in Chicago: constructing warm nests under a train overpass. This is only three blocks from my house. As far as I could see, there are no humans in this photo; the residents are probably out foraging. It’s heartbreaking that we have this in […]

The history of urbanization

From Metrocosm, and now on YouTube, we have a cool animation of the growth of the world’s cities starting with Eridu, which had attained “city” status by about 3000 BC. For each city, this map shows the date of the earliest recorded population figure, which is not necessarily the date when the city was founded. The […]

Belief in moralistic gods makes people generous—towards coreligionists

I’ve been meaning to write about this paper for some time, but it’s fallen into my backlog of 1000-odd draft posts that I almost never look at. However, I found a printout in my daypack, and so will try to describe it briefly, for the results are somewhat hard to interpret. The paper, in a January, 2016 […]

The great toilet paper debate: the answer!

Over of course, and here’s why (the RV argument is just dumb):

A brief note on equality

First, let’s hear it for Matthew’s post on human evolution just below, which is perhaps the best science post he’s written here. I know it took a lot of work, so do read it; you’ll learn a lot. Reading the usually soporific Nicholas Kristof in today’s New York Times op-ed section (a column called “America’s stacked deck“), I learned […]

San Francisco tech guy decries the city’s homeless, but only because the sight of them bothers him and his rich pals

I don’t much like to engage in Internet shaming, especially when it’s based on a single careless or thoughtless remark that leads to someone’s character being permanently smeared or their career ruined. But this letter, written by one Justin Keller, a startup founder with a blog and a Twi**er site, is beyond the pale. It’s directed to San Francisco […]

Another secular sermon on Salon!

I’ve become aware of someone else besides Jeff Tayler who’s criticizing religion on Salon—a stand decidedly against the editorial current of that site. And the other anti-theist is Phil Torres, an author and ethicist described at Salon as: . . . an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and founder of the X-Risks […]

A four-second pit stop

When I was a kid, I loved the Indianapolis 500 race, and before it was televised I’d listen to it on the radio and write down what happened in every lap. I was particularly fascinated by pit stops: when cars pull in for new tires, a gas refill, and so on. The crews who do […]