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ethics

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: On Race and Jane Elliott’s Famous Experiment on Prejudice

One of the most famous experiments in education — Jane Elliott’s “blue eyes, brown eyes” separation of her third grade students to teach them about prejudice — was very different from what the public was told, as revealed in this excerpt from the in-depth story about what really happened in that classroom.

Meta Ethics: Toward a Universal Ethics — How Science & Reason Can Give Us Objective Moral Truths Without God

Ever since the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume outlined the “Is-Ought” problem—that we cannot derive an ought from an is, or we cannot determine the way something ought to be morally based on the way things are in nature (the classic example being slavery—because ants practice slavery that doesn’t make it natural and therefore acceptable for humans to practice slavery)—people have struggled to figure out on what basis should moral values be grounded. Of course, theists argue that God is that grounding, but what if you don’t believe in God? Is everything relative, including murder? In this article psychologist Gary Whittenberger offers an argument grounded in science and reason for determining objective moral truths.

Stephen Bloom on Jane Elliott’s Famous Experiment on Race and Brutality and What It Reveals About Today’s Racial Divide

Shermer and Bloom discuss: “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” — Jane Elliott famous racism experiment • reactions to it (in the classroom, locally, nationally, internationally) • whether the “experiment” was really more of a demonstration • public interest, from Johnny Carson to Oprah Winfrey • the questionable ethics of the experiment • what it reveals about tribalism, racism, obedience to authority, role playing, social proof • whether it reveals hidden racist attitudes or creates them in children • race sensitivity training programs (and why they don’t really work) • what drives moral progress • the future of journalism.

Charles Foster on Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness

In episode 220, Michael Shermer speaks with Charles Foster about his book Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, natural history, agriculture, medical law and ethics, Charles Foster makes an audacious attempt to feel a connection with 45,000 years of human history.

eSkeptic for October 23, 2021

In episode 220, Michael Shermer speaks with Charles Foster about his book Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, natural history, agriculture, medical law and ethics, Charles Foster makes an audacious attempt to feel a connection with 45,000 years of human history.

Yaron Brook on Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, and Objectivism

In episode 197, Michael speaks with entrepreneur, writer, and activist Yaron Brook about Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism; individualism vs. collectivism; the nature of human nature; altruism, cooperation, reparations, and charity; the starting point of morality and the foundation of ethics; collective action problems and how they are best solved; our moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves; the Is-Ought problem of determining right and wrong; reason and empiricism; immigration, abortion, foreign wars, the welfare state, and terrorism.

eSkeptic for August 3, 2021

In episode 197, Michael speaks with entrepreneur, writer, and activist Yaron Brook about Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism; individualism vs. collectivism; the nature of human nature; altruism, cooperation, reparations, and charity; the starting point of morality and the foundation of ethics; collective action problems and how they are best solved; our moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves; the Is-Ought problem of determining right and wrong; reason and empiricism; immigration, abortion, foreign wars, the welfare state, and terrorism.

Chris Edwards on Educational Reform and Thought Experiments

Michael Shermer speaks with Chris Edwards about educational reform, his study and teaching of world history, the problems in K–12 education, the zip-code model vs. the seat time model of education and how they result in massively different educational outcomes, how “no child left behind” left children behind, federal vs. state educational systems, and more…

eSkeptic for July 17, 2021

In episode 193, Michael Shermer speaks with Chris Edwards about educational reform and thought experiments. Plus, Harriet Hall, M.D. discusses osteopathy. What is it? What is the difference between an MD and a DO? Should the DO degree be abolished?

Wicked Games: Lance Armstrong, Forgiveness and Redemption, and a Game Theory of Doping

Part 2 of the documentary film “Lance” airs tonight on ESPN and served as a catalyst for this article that employs game theory to understand why athletes dope even when they don’t want to, as well as thoughts on forgiveness and redemption. The article is a follow up to and extension of Dr. Shermer’s article in the April 2008 issue of Scientific American.

eSkeptic for May 31, 2020

Part 2 of the documentary film “Lance” airs tonight on ESPN and served as a catalyst for this article that employs game theory to understand why athletes dope even when they don’t want to, as well as thoughts on forgiveness and redemption. The article is a follow up to and extension of Dr. Shermer’s article in the April 2008 issue of Scientific American.

Gotcha! Thinking About Skeptical “Stings”

Daniel Loxton considers the long, valuable, and ethically complicated history of skeptical undercover investigations and debunking traps.

Considering a Complaint About Skeptical Tactics

Daniel Loxton describes a recent recurrence of the very old controversy about skeptical use of undercover investigation and "sting " tactics.

11-06-22

What is the right approach to dealing with people who believe in the paranormal or some particular idea we could call pseudoscience? Naturally no one considers their beliefs to be pseudoscience or faith-based nonsense, so saying something along those lines to a believer’s face is likely to close off conversation. In this remarkable article, our own Daniel Loxton tackles the matter head on. Daniel shows that a controversy that erupted at last year’s The Amazing Meeting conference was just the latest in a very long history of skeptical debates about the “tone” of our criticism and educational outreach. (Please note: this is a long article, running over 4500 words.)

11-02-02

In this week’s eSkeptic Massimo Pigliucci reviews Sam Harris’ latest book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

In this lecture, recorded on October 24, 2010 for The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge.

10-09-29

In this week’s eSkeptic, Frank Miele interviews ecologist and social activist Garrett Hardin about his views on the economy, abortion, overpopulation and assisted suicide. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine volume 4, number 2 in 1996.

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

In this Caltech lecture, Conway tells an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public on matters ranging from the risks of smoking to the reality of global warming. He names names, documenting their involvement in such issues as acid rain, the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, the ozone hole, global warming, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the banning of DDT.

On Fact & Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science

FRAUD IN SCIENCE is not as easy to identify as one might think. When accusations of scientific misconduct occur, truth can often be elusive, and the cause of a scientist’s ethical misstep isn’t always clear. In his lecture based on his new book, On Fact and Fraud, Caltech physicist David Goodstein looks at actual cases in which fraud was committed or alleged, explaining what constitutes scientific misconduct and what doesn’t, and outlines some ethical foundations needed to discern and avoid fraud wherever it may arise.

09-10-14

In this week’s eSkeptic, Dr Harriet Hall, MD, (aka the Skepdoc) reviews Render Unto Darwin: Philosophical Aspects of the Christian Right’s Crusade against Science, by James H. Fetzer.

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