The Power and Problem of Placebo

  In Plato’s dialogue, The Phaedrus, Socrates tells the story of Theuth and Thamus. In it, Theuth, the Egyptian god of writing, calls written expression a pharmakon (remedy, drug) that can help aid memory, but King Thamus rejects it since he believes it will only foster forgetting. Here, writing (the graphical representation of ideas) and memory (the cognitive representation of ideas) are discussed in terms of a drug– something can both poison and cure. Writing, when compared with oral transmission of ideas, was considered both an excuse for forgetting and a method of remembering, since ideas may be preserved and
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Christianity and Slavery

Occasionally, Christians like to claim for themselves the fruits of some of their better members. They will, for example, claim that it was Christianity that is to praise for universities, hospitals, charities, and abolition of slavery. And while it is certainly true that there are soft-hearted, philanthropic Christians, make no mistake about it: Christianity does not make people better moral agents. History is truth-bearer of this observation. For every Christian that points out the beginnings of universities, hospitals, charities, or abolition, I could equally point out the Christian roots of the oppression of scientific knowledge, the beginnings of “Holy” wars,
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Freethinking about Feminism

“Feminism” has come to be a somewhat controversial word, as Emma Watson pointed out in her recent speech to the United Nations.  Moreover, in the last few years, outspoken feminist atheists and popular figures in the atheist movement have sometimes found themselves at odds in their attempts to analyze and critique gender issues in the atheist community and in culture at large.   As feminism seems to be a regular topic of conversation in atheist blogs, articles, and conferences, I thought I’d like to throw my hat into the ring and talk about it. My intention is not to point fingers
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