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Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Uncategorized Posts | 5 comments

One of the Joys at TAM Was Meeting and Talking with Jerry Coyne and Peter Boghossian, Two of My Intellectual Heroes

Okay, Okay, this is an unflattering photo of myself. [Never let it be said I always put my best foot forward]. Jerry, Peter and myself were talking about the relationship of science to philosophy, as well as the whether science can inform us about morality. They treated me as an equal and that was really refreshing. I especially made a really great connection with Peter. We hung out together. I don’t think I know another philosopher whose views are the same as mine (as far as I can tell). He’s down to earth, funny, a great communicator, and thinks like me that we need to reach out to the non-specialist with good strong arguments communicated simply, yet not simplistically. My problem is that since I lack a PhD some people (mostly non-scholars themselves) think I’m being simplistic (or vacuous). I’m not. I just think we need to take the scholarly arguments to the masses. This is something Dr. Robert Price noticed when reviewing my book, “God or Godless.” He said I wrote “with unpretentious clarity, common sense, and broad but inconspicuous erudition.” The last four words of his are key. He noticed I have a broad and deep understanding of the issues that are not easily recognizable. It takes a scholar to recognize this.

  • Miranda Celeste Hale

    Such wonderful chaps (^‿^) & I had lots of fun hanging out with you & Peter. Good times, good times 😉

    & I love this photo Peter posted (also from the speakers’ reception): And you’re invisible in it, but still get a shout-out. Quite the talent, m’dear 😉

  • Brive1987

    A PhD does not impart respect. It is however pretty much a prerequisite for being taken seriously as a thought leader in an academic discipline.

    There is no free pass, you have to do the prescribed hard yards. If you don’t then (rarely) you can be elevated by peer acclaim.

    It’s nice to get a positive review from Dr Price. The context here of course is that (PhD aside) he has been peer ‘declaimed’ for his views and is himself quite bitter and dismissive of mainstream academia.

    Naturally none of this stops you being an informed blogger and valuable popularist of atheist apologetics. Maybe it is a cultural thing but IMO your message is diluted when your hubris / defensiveness shows.

    An example of this? You say Price’s key words are “broad but inconspicuous erudition.”

    But then you defined what he really meant – “he noticed I have a broad and deep understanding of the issues”

    Now maybe he did … somewhere else … but this not the way to do it.

  • ImRike

    Maybe it is because you DON’T have the PhD that you are able to lay out the facts so that other non-PhD’s like me can more easily understand. And I thank you for that!

  • Brive1987

    I think JL is an effective non academic commentator.

    It comes through strongly though here and elsewhere that He has a self value that he feels transcends the label of informed popularist. On more than one occasion he has used his education and intelligence as a blunt force weapon to dismiss people that disagree with him.

    I was genuinely surprised about a week ago to discover he did not complete his PhD and that the learning he is quick to quote was gained in religious type studies in religious universities.

    Maybe it is a cultural thing but around here we look askance at overt self promotion.

    It’s all very interesting.

  • John W. Loftus

    Brive, academics respect me, so it is what it is. I do think some people, mostly non-academics, underestimate me. For the record, I don’t think you’re an idiot.