Monday, June 9, 2008

The Humanist Institute, Michael Shermer & Baloney Detection

The Humanist Institute " is a leadership training program created by the North American Committee for Humanism." Leadership training involves both the practical and intellectual sides of humanist education. I have my doubts that "humanism" is the all-encompassing philosophy it purports to be, and its conception of intellectual history seems to be limited by the lingering consequences of McCarthyism, but still, there is a resource here to be drawn upon.

I followed through a number of links, but for the moment I'll just single this out:

(AHA) 66th annual conference, "Blazing a Humanist Trail," in Portland Oregon on Thursday, June 7th, 2007. Preconference - The Humanist Institute.

One of the preconference seminars, for which materials are available online, is:

Science: Methods and Uses
Warren Wolf

It is always of interest to me what expositions of the scientific method include and exclude. I note with some amusement this set of guidelines:


Unfortunately, only Shermer's own guidelines are to be found here, nothing about detection of Shermer's own baloney. Shermer, after all, is a devotee of Ayn Rand and is now peddling his own pseudoscience of "evolutionary economics". Many pop intellectuals today, extending themselves beyond their legitimate scientific credentials, are wont to translate their allegedly scientifically based insights directly into political and economic generalizations and prescriptions, innocent of the intervening factors of history and social organization. Whether libertarians like Shermer or "liberal" shills for the Democratic Party like George Lakoff, these ideologues parade about on the public stage pimping their half-baked ideas on the authority of science. Social theory has been disappeared out of the intellectual repertoire of organized American humanism and atheism. These folks are quite convinced—the upscale liberals especially—that they are the very embodiment of reason. Delusional thinking in a decaying society knows no bounds.

1 comment:

mjosef said...

Starting to read your posts, I'm impressed. I waged a lonely little campaign against Michael Shermer, canceling my subsrcription to "Skeptic," contacting members of the board to express my revulsion at their association with such a pro-Reaganite idiot. I'll defend Dawkins as an engaging forceful anti-religionist, but you make excellent points about the rest of his sociobiological balderdash. I think the state of intellectual thought is parlous because we do not have a vocabulary to discuss what I call the supersystem, the interrelated workings of the social phenomena you refer