Author: tiddysmith

Popper and Wittgenstein: Foes and Allies

There is a famous story about a debate between Popper and Wittgenstein at Oxbridge. In the middle of a heated exchange, Wittgenstein is said to have grabbed a fire poker and to have begun waving it in Popper’s direction, demanding that Popper present a single ethical claim that could be said to be well founded. With the veins on Wittgenstein’s head beginning to throb, Popper is said to have calmly produced such an ethical claim: “Don’t threaten visiting professors with fire pokers.” (more…)


What Makes for a Successful Philosophy Paper?

There is a well-known philosophy paper that has always fascinated me for several reasons. It is Richard Feldman’s “Reasonable Religious Disagreements”, which was first published in 2007. In this paper, Feldman admonishes those religious and atheist types, who continue to cling to their strongly held beliefs in the face of persistent disagreement. Instead, he argues that everyone should by now have converged on some kind of agnosticism: everyone should by now have realised that the disagreement is not going anywhere, and so everyone should have put the disagreement on ice.


R.I.P. Post-Truth (1960-2017)

Trump lies and we all know it. He lied about Russian business ties. He lied about his inauguration numbers. He lied about terror attacks in Sweden, and lied about forest fires in Finland. There seems to be no end to it all. The public, at large, have come to shrug off any new lie, just as the law of diminishing returns would lead us to predict. But with the advent of Trump, we were told, came also the final victory of the proponents of “post-truth”.


Is Creationism Child Abuse?

A recent article by Michael Stone argues that teaching children that the Earth is merely 6,000 years old constitutes a form of child abuse. Now, don’t get me wrong—young Earth creationism is a cancer on Western civilization. It has retarded scientific progress in the United States as a whole generation is raised in ignorance of the foundational cornerstone of biology. But even so, teaching creationism to children is hardly child abuse.  (more…)

Did Science Ever Need Christianity?

Science and Christianity appear worlds apart in many respects. Science has shown us that Adam and Eve never existed, that the world is vastly older than six thousand or so years, that there never was a global flood and that praying for sick people to get better has little to no effect on their health (as a matter of fact, the effect of prayer on sick patients has been shown, in some studies, to be slightly negative, if the patients also know that they are being prayed for). (more…)

Mysticism and Evidence

A presentation delivered to the Dunedin Theosophical Society Sept. 13 2017

What is it like to be blind? I do not mean spiritually blind, or morally blind, or blind with rage, but actually unable to see. Of course, when we try to imagine it for ourselves, as sighted people, we say that everything would just look black, but that is not quite right. Everything would not look black. There would be no visual impression of blackness, for there would be no visual impressions at all. (more…)