The latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer (32:2) has been released, and as usual there’s a bunch of free sample articles from the new release available at their website. The major theme of the new issue is the advance of China, and promotion of rational thinking there.
The magazine details are below, but I’d just like to add a quick sidenote here, after reading the articles. CSI(COP) has close ties to the American Humanist Association (not least through Paul Kurtz), and the AHA’s affinity for Marxist/socialist thinking is fairly well known. Both articles by Frazier and Kurtz (below) seem to feature an undercurrent of some ‘promised land’ that China may be moving towards, in their emphasis on science and technology:
The provision of the Communist Party’s Congress that I found most surprising is the supremacy it accords science and technology in its future plans. The Party Congress—it is perhaps the only major power in the world to do so—supports as its highest priority the “scientific outlook on development,” a goal adopted as an amendment to the CPC Constitution…
…Hu, trained as an engineer, was quoted as saying: “Uphold science; don’t be ignorant and unenlightened.” What a contrast with the current U.S. administration where “intelligent design” theorists oppose evolution and stem-cell research is effectively thwarted. Traditional Marxist theory emphasizes that the expansion of “the forces of production” is essential to economic growth—the Chinese have recognized that increased expenditures for science and technology are crucial to their effective development.
Now, I’m all for assigning high priorities to science and technology. But I think humanists, skeptics and atheists (they are not all one and the same) should be concerned about glowing reports by CSICOPians about China’s emphasis on science and technology, without some critique of the human rights abuses taking place there. Even against qigong groups such as Falun Gong, no matter what their feelings on religious sects. There has been much made in the ‘atheism debate’ about how atheist regimes have been just as cruel and repressive as some religious groups – an idea that Richard Dawkins and others reject – and as such I think it’s important that CSICOP and the AHA don’t sweep this issue under the carpet.
Now, back to the contents (the above should get The Daily Grail banned in China fairly promptly…):
- Kendrick Frazier recounts some highlights of the recent World Congress on Scientific Inquiry and Human Well-Being, in “China Gone Modern“.
- Paul Kurtz compares “The New China and the Old“.
- Martin Gardner reviews Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Christianity.
- Bjørn Lomborg urges everyone: “Let’s Keep Our Cool about Global Warming“.
- Joe Nickell shares stories about people being buried alive.
- Harriet Hall critiques Dr Gary Schwartz’s ‘Energy Healing Experiments’.
Full details of the new issue, and ordering details, are available at the website.