The carnival of the vacationing blogger #1

Taking inspiration from Greta’s Sporadic Blog Carnival, I’ve decided that while I’m on vacation I’ll start making a point to regularly post collections of some of the most worthwhile things I find around the web. Read to the end for what else to expect from me in the near future.

First, Greta herself has been writing about the Proposition 8 ruling and the weird position it puts her in, personally. Comment: I’m not sure it makes sense to worry about this setting a precedent that a majority vote can strip away people’s constitutional rights. I don’t know the history of California’s constitution, but my impression is that it’s been true for a long time that it can be amended by majority vote, which entails majority vote can strip away constitutional rights. The problem is a badly-written constitution, not a bad precedent.

On the academic philosophy front, the Experimental Philosophy blog reports on psychological research showing people are quite willing to affirm a statement can be both true and false when it involves something vague. Nice to have documented, but I would have thought this would have been obvious. Part of what it means to reason logically is to clear up any ambiguities in what you’re trying to say.

On the ethical side of philosophy, Hemant writes on a drive to get non-believers to give more to charity. Tangent: I just read Peter Singer’s excellent book The Life You Can Save. In my book recommendations post, Singer was the only living person I listed as having produced really fine books on philosophy, and this one, about the need to give money to help the world’s poorest, is no exception. Buy it, or get it from the library so you can give the money you would have spent on it to charity. Relevance to Hemant: Singer’s discussions of research on charitable giving provide a couple possible explanations for the lack of secular giving Hemant is worrying about. First, most “charity” donations to religious organizations go to pay for clergy, church buildings, etc.–it’s the moral equivalent of tipping at a bar. On the other hand, churches do a good job in making people aware of what other people are giving to charity, and research shows that people’s knowledge of others’ giving is a huge factor in what they give. Maybe secularists who give just need to be more open about it? As long as I’m talking about book recommendations: my book recommendations post mentioned Lee Strobel as someone to read if you want to be reading the better Christian apologists. However,

Andrew at Evaluating Christianity has a nice reminder of why my “a little bit dishonest” comment may have been an understatement. But I stand by what I said about Strobel’s arguments being not as awful as a lot of recent books on religion.

At Dangerous idea, there’s an example of the marriage analogy for religious faith. In the comments, I argue that it’s obviously possible to suspend judgment on your partner’s faithfulness.

Last for the carnival proper, Massimo has a nice example of people’s statistical illiteracy when it comes to miracles.

Upcoming: I review Tim Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Work Week as a way of explaining what I’m doing this summer. Also, I plan on commenting on the brewing Coyne Mooney smackdown.

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