Home Columns Books Papers Biography Contact

"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

November 2019

Do We Know What Makes People Evil?


What could make a nice Middle-Class Norwegian murder 74 people because he hated his government? Or make an American Baptist college student convert to Islam and murder soldiers at an Arkansas recruitment center? Or a 19-year-old slaughter innocents at a Garlic Festival? Does human evil come from our genes (nature) or from our upbringing (nurture)? The debate is unresolved.

Genetic advocates can show that certain things in brain chemistry can create impulsiveness, hot tem more...

Print

September 2019

When Foreign Policy Gets It Wrong: Afghanistan



How the United States deals with the rest of the world is determined by our foreign policy. Centuries before we became a country, foreign policy was the business of kings, who had relationships with other kings, and diplomats who were dispatched abroad with the dual purpose of representing their kings and collecting data on the foreign country (spying).

A diplomat representing England?s Queen Elizabeth I, was in France where he witnessed an organized slaughter of F more...

Print

The Clash between Law and Religion


Throughout human history, religion and law had a sometimes uneasy relationship. Kings expected their laws and rules to be obeyed, even when they sometimes clashed with the religion of their subjects. In the ancient Greek play Antigone, the king ordered a dead rebel prince unburied, left for the jackals. Antigone, the dead man?s sister,
secretly buried the body in obedience to her religion, not the king?s law. She paid with her life, but the king was definitely in the wrong, as the more...

Print

Women?s Uneven Progress Globally



The treatment of women from the beginning of our species has been shaped by biology: female humans generally smaller than males, physically weaker, and hampered by childbirth and lactation. Even hunter-gatherer tribes, whose survival depended upon mobility, learned to space between births. A woman on the move can carry only one or two children.

After agriculture replaced hunting/gathering, when humans settled in villages, towns, and city-states, spacing childbirth more...

Print

The Future of Feeding the World

When our ancient ancestors gave up hunting and gathering to begin growing crops and taming livestock, our numbers grew. But even in the hunting/gathering phase, these ancestors did what no other creatures could: they tamed fire and began to cook their food.

Growing crops, a practice that began in river-watered lands (the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and China) required another innovation, replacing dependence on rainfall with irrigation. Again, population growth exploded.

more...

Print

Sticks and Stones: Words Matter


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me." This saying was aimed at children, to arm them against verbal bullies. It is also linked to our First Amendment, freedom of speech, even when people to say things that we hate, but protect their right to say them.

Such freedom, however, ends with speech that can endanger life: falsely crying "fire" in a crowded theater, or urging riot in the public square. "Let?s go kill the?.aristocrats" during the Fr more...

Print

Darwinian View of Women


It has taken thousands of years in which human beings struggled to evolve into the extraordinary beings we are today. Over that time, certain assumptions were widely accepted about the capabilities and values of women, the smaller and physically weaker of the two genders. Women were expected to provide sexual pleasure to men, to bear children and rear them, and to be free domestic and farm labor. Men were able to maintain this system through brute force, and later, religion and law.
more...

Print

The Pros and Cons of Tolerance


That famous bastion of intellectual freedom and tolerance, Universities, have lately been accused of hypocrisy: tolerant only of those ideas believed by the majority and unwilling to give ear to opposing views. The terminology covering this has given rise to a new term: political correctness. Only certain ideas are correct and all others are false.

Voltaire is attributed to have said: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." To more...

Print

The Limits to Growth


The economic system that has done so well by us is Capitalism, a system that encourages competition and innovation, its excesses moderated by government regulations that protect the public from the abuses of the system?s earlier century. This delicate balancing act has depended on growth: population growth, productivity, and seemingly limitless innovation.

But now there is a problem for this system. Nothing in the biological world has unlimited growth. Things are born, li more...

Print

Coincidence or Collusion?

My head reels to learn the FBI is exploring if our president is a willing agent of a foreign country? Surely this can?t be true, can it? Are we seeing a coincidence: that President Trump just happens to believe the same things that Vladimir Putin does? Or do the Russians have something secret and embarrassing over him?

Until the Mueller report is released, we cannot know for certain which of these scenarios is credible. Many in Trump?s base are prepared to believe anything he says more...

Print

November 2018

What?s Happening to the Global Islam Project?

Islam as a global religion is having a crisis. Despite years of propaganda that began with the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the boast that Islam is on a roll around the world needs to be revised.

I have long rejected the mantra that "Islam is the world?s fastest growing religion," the illusion that people are rushing to convert. We really do not have any reliable numbers on how many people belong to a faith (modern censuses do not ask this question) so we must get the numbers from more...

Print

July 2018

Clash of Civilizations


Western Civilization does not have all the answers to those wanting a perfect society. Even the excellent American Creed (everyone is an equal citizen under the law) does not have all the answers, but both are far better than any other older, traditional civilizations.

Modern intellectuals do not like to repeat what seems to be the arrogance of 19th century Europeans and Americans who looked down on all other cultures. We shudder at the notion that only White people of No more...

Print

Clash of Civilizations


Western Civilization does not have all the answers to those wanting a perfect society. Even the excellent American Creed (everyone is an equal citizen under the law) does not have all the answers, but both are far better than any other older, traditional civilizations.

Modern intellectuals do not like to repeat what seems to be the arrogance of 19th century Europeans and Americans who looked down on all other cultures. We shudder at the notion that only White people of No more...

Print

Public Education and Democracy

The recent widespread teachers? strike was the first time in years that we had to think of public education in terms other than cutting taxes. The teachers in many states are terribly underpaid, and the strikes gave them the first pay boosts in decades. But the teachers were striking for more than their own wages: they wanted funding restored for infrastructure, books, and materials. Strikers showed us outdated textbooks held together by tape, and no money for paper and pens.

Asi more...

Print