In this provocative and compelling talk—that includes brief histories of freedom rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and animal rights, along with considerations of the nature of evil and moral regress—Shermer explains how scientific ways of thinking have moved us ever closer to a more just world.
At the book party to launch The Moral Arc on Monday night January 19 in New York City, the host Gerry Ohrstrom and the sponsor the Reason Foundation wanted to liven up the party so they brought in a couple of remarkable magicians and the famous science rap artist Baba Brinkman, famous for his “Rap Guide to Evolution” and, more recently, his “Rap Guide to Religion”, which is now an off-Broadway production in New York. To my utter surprise, before Steve Pinker and I launched into our “In Conversation” about science and moral progress, Baba got up and performed a rap song tribute to The Moral Arc, which, he said, he wrote on the drive over to the party! Now that’s creativity on the fly.
On Sunday, March 21st, 1965, about 8,000 people gathered at Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama and began a march to the capitol building in Montgomery. At the front of the crowd was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and they were marching for one reason. Justice. They wanted simply to be given the right to vote. They had tried to march twice before, but were met with tear gas, billy clubs, and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. And both times they were forced to turn back. But not this time. This time President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered 2,000 National Guard troops to protect the marchers. And so for five days, over a span of 53 miles, through biting cold and frequent rain, they marched. Word spread, the number of demonstrators grew, and by the time they reached the capitol building on March 25, their numbers had swelled to at least 25,000.
In 1919, with the smoke still clearing from the battlefields of the First World War, the German sociologist Max Weber began a systematic study of the nation-state by defining a state as any “human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” But what constitutes legitimate [...]
When eyewitness testimony collides with contradictory evidence Psychologists have known for decades that memory does not operate like a video camera, with our senses recording in high definition what really happens in the world, accurately stored in memory awaiting high fidelity playback on the viewing screen of our mind. Instead, fragments of scenes are processed [...]
Astronomy is a historical science because the distance scales involved are so immense that to look out into space is to look back into time. Even at the almost unfathomable speed of light at 300,000 kilometers per second, the sun is eight light minutes away, the nearest star is 4.3 light years away, the center [...]
In response to the December 14, 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, in which 20 children and six adults were murdered, President Obama vowed to do everything in his power to prevent such an event happening again, “Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as [...]
Over the past decade I have participated in several debates over the question, Does the Universe Have a Purpose?, most recently in Puebla, Mexico in November, 2010, when Richard Dawkins, Matt Ridley, and I squared off (literally—in a boxing ring) against Rabbi David Wolpe and the theologians William Lane Craig and Douglas Geivett. The theists [...]
How can anyone possibly argue these days that markets are moral and that trade leads to fair behavior? Given the criminal actions of Bernie Madoff, the outrageous shenanigans of Wall Street traders, the bloated bonuses of corporate CEOs, the shady business practices of sub-prime mortgage lenders, the oil company sponsorship of oil-industry regulators and its [...]