From the year 2013

Natural rights versus entitlements
in Politics

Conservatives like to talk about the distinction between “natural rights” and “entitlements”. I’d like to take a look at that distinction, to see whether it’s really all that it’s cracked up to be. I will take as my case study an advertisement that I heard on the radio for Hillsdale College . The ad included […]

The constitution as a religious document
in Politics

Why do some conservatives treat the constitution like a religious document? A comment yesterday by Mark Levin gave me a little insight. I think it has to do with a fear of relativism. Mark Levin was talking on his radio show about the reason why the Bill of Rights should be viewed as absolute and […]

Not-guilty by virtue of nuh-uh!
in Politics

This is my rant about why traffic intersection cameras are awesome and you should love them, and if you do not like them then you are stupid and wrong.  You have been warned. There is literally no coherent argument against having cameras at intersections that will take a snapshot and give you a ticket if […]

Talking with a climate-change denier.
in Interviews, Politics, Science

A complete transcript of my Twitter DM conversation with a climate change denier, and my attempt to get him to explain what evidence would convince him (if it were found) that man-caused climate change was actually happening. My attempt did not succeed.   GregStevens Mar 12, 2:42pm I’d actually love to have a real discussion […]

Soft drinks and fuzzy borders
in Politics

We live in a world with ambiguity, which is why people with absolute, black-and-white ideologies always end up looking extreme. The latest case study? Soft drink regulation in New York City. Let’s start by being clear on what the law is about. It is very specific: places that serve drinks (not grocery stores) would be […]

The reason why presidents don’t say “never”
in Politics

Rand Paul is an idiot and all of you liberals who are agreeing with his filibuster are idiots.  There, I said it. Now, let me explain why. Rand Paul asked whether it could ever be possible for the President to authorize a drone strike against American citizens on American soil who are not determined to […]

The view from 2007: a reminder
in Politics
Vanity Fair

With all of today’s news about sequesters, debt ceilings, stock market record highs, unemployment stagnation, and all of the rest, it is interesting to look back what some people were writing in 2007 about “the future of the economy”. I found an article called “The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush”, published in Vanity Fair in […]

The Lady Gaga fans who hate Lady Gaga
in Culture

There are plenty of you out there: you listen to her songs, you know the lyrics, and you dress like her to go to her concerts. And you hate everything she stands for. How do I know that you hate everything she stands for? Let me explain. I see you at the dance clubs.  I […]

What gender is your baby?
in Culture

Of course gender matters in this world, and it would be stupid to say otherwise.  What baffles me isn’t that it matters, but the way that the issue seems to bother some people so much. A woman who is a friend of mine has an infant whom she likes to take with her when she […]

The problem with studying Republican brains
in Politics, Science

Mother Jones has yet another article about the differences between Democratic and Republican brains. This research is both interesting and completely useless. First, let me sum up the gist of the findings in the most accurate and least sensational way that I possibly can.  For details, the Mother Jones article has references and links, and […]

Are we Devils or Fools?
in Philosophy, Politics

I have a theory that there are two types of people in the world: those who assume that other people are devils, and those who assume that other people are fools. The Devil and the Fool are two powerful archetypes that are engrained in our cultural consciousness. Both characters appear regularly and prominently in our […]

Is God a conspiracy theory?
in Religion

Religious beliefs have a lot in common with paranoid “conspiracy theory” beliefs. It’s worth taking a look, and asking the question: Is God just one big conspiracy theory? First, let’s look at some of the superficial similarities between the most common religious beliefs and paranoid “conspiracy theory” types of beliefs. 1) There is something that […]

Gun regulation stops gun murders: true or false?
in Politics

Does gun regulation stop gun murders? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. No, I’m not living in some kind of wacky Schroedinger universe. No, I’m not just trying to be diplomatic and “see both sides” of the issue. The problem is that the question itself can mean two completely different things, depending on how […]

The Silver One
in Personal Stuff

This is the story of how I learned a valuable lesson about truth, family, and loyalty. It happened when I was very young. It was summer, and Charlie and I were playing on the small stretch of curb between our two houses. We were playing with matchbox cars, running them all over the rough terrain […]

playing hard-to-get vs. being hard-to-get
in Personal Stuff

People struggle with the conflict between not “playing games” and not “being too eager”: the two mortal sins of the dating world. But there is a simple way to avoid both: get a life. I hate seeing people struggle with this issue. I’ve talked to people in their early 20’s and people in their late […]

Copernicus: scientist or magician?
in History, Science

Atheists and scientists love to cite Copernicus as a hero of science, who used logic and math to triumph over religious superstition. But it’s also possible he was just a sun-worshiping mystic. Now, let me be absolutely clear: the calculations of Copernicus were meticulous. His hypothesis that the planets moved around a stationary sun, rather […]

How not to be a shill
in Culture

The internet makes shilling very easy, and it’s a perfectly normal and even accepted marketing and PR technique. But if you do it stupidly, you end up looking stupid. Being a “shill” means promoting someone or something while trying to present yourself as an impartial, unbiased consumer or observer. When a company that sells Widgety […]

Conversation with Chris Stedman on Faith and Faitheism
in Interviews, Religion

Greg Stevens [Greg]: I loved your book, Faitheist. I was raised by an atheist father and a Unitarian mother, and was taught that it is important to respect the important role that religion plays, and always has played, in society. So I often find myself in a similar situation as you: defending atheism when among […]

Are you a Ron or a Hermione?
in Culture

Ron and Hermione are perfect archetypes: they represent the two equal and opposite ways that someone can be a “best friend”. Which kind of best friend are you? This idea struck me a while back, when I was re-watching the Harry Potter movies for the 378th time. Throughout the series, Harry Potter has two best […]

What if the government wanted to ban…
in Politics

I finally found an argument against the assault weapons ban that makes sense. It is an argument I can empathize with and relate to, and it has nothing to do with either self-defense or liberty. Mike and I were working out together, and discussing gun control. Specifically, we were talking about how stupid and crazy […]