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Jennifer Michael Hecht - Doubt
Posted: 06 December 2008 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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junkmotel - 05 December 2008 02:32 PM

Hecht posts a weekly blog on the Best American Poetry site.  She talks about the interview and this discussion there.

http://thebestamericanpoetry.typepad.com/the_best_american_poetry/the_lion_and_the_honeycomb/

cheers,
jm

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/doubt/kristasjournal.shtml
This is another 53 minute interview of Jennifer Michael Hecht for the PBS Speaking of Faith series— Krista Tippett also has some comments.

also interview for Skeptic magazine…
[ Interview in July 5 2005   edition of Skepticality for Skeptic Magazine] 

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Posted: 07 December 2008 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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For the record, I dont think she was talking about phrenology (that was D.J.‘s mistake) but about the one-time “scientific” practice of craniometry.  I loved this interview. One of our favorites.

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Posted: 21 December 2008 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I didn’t understand what she was saying, and she said at one point she couldn’t explain herself (sounds like postmodernism). Not the greatest of interviews, if you can’t communicate your ideas an interview isn’t really necessary. I didn’t hear a critique of science, all I heard was something along the lines of “scientists shouldn’t be so certain”, and “scientists were wrong in the 19th century”, not formed into a coherent argument against science. It doesn’t help the promotion of doubt to advocate psychoanalysis that is not evidence-based, thus must be doubted by any one calling themselves a skeptic i.e. doubter.

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Posted: 21 December 2008 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thomas Donnelly - 01 December 2008 11:39 AM

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Hecht talks about the relationship of her book Doubt: A History to the books of the New Atheists…

I purchased a copy of Doubt, and recommend it.  This book complements the Portable Atheist by Hitchins and provides a readable history, reasonably thorough summary, and a context for the readings in Hitchins’ book.  Together Doubt (548 pages) and the Portable Atheist (499pages) will keep you busy with browsing for some time.

I was wondering if Doubt was available on Audible.com but couldn’t find it

Jackson

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Posted: 23 December 2008 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Allow me to share my thoughts on this whole thing.

1.) Skepticism of Science- If she was saying that we should be aware that specific scientific claims could turn out not to be true down the road, and we should see our knowledge as in some sense limited, I have no problem with that. I don’t claim that that was what she was driving at, but that’s what it sounded like to me.

2.) Poetry, Psychoanalysis, etc.- Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be that poetry, and the arts generally, are life-enriching. As for psychoanalysis, I wish DJ would have asked her if she meant psychoanalysis in the strict Freudian sense, or psychological explanation generally. If she was referring to the latter, then I don’t see any problem.

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Posted: 25 December 2008 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I didn’t get the psychoanalysis part myself, exactly.  But, meditation is not praying.  It is a natural process and involves no belief system.  All three items of analysis, meditation and poetry seem to fit into part of what Paul Kurtz encourages with living life to the fullest.  Knowing oneself and expressing it in art are good ways to do it.

I would not put her in the category of the evangelical atheists however.

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Posted: 27 December 2008 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Lucretius - 23 December 2008 06:44 PM

Allow me to share my thoughts on this whole thing.

1.) Skepticism of Science- If she was saying that we should be aware that specific scientific claims could turn out not to be true down the road, and we should see our knowledge as in some sense limited, I have no problem with that. I don’t claim that that was what she was driving at, but that’s what it sounded like to me.

2.) Poetry, Psychoanalysis, etc.- Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be that poetry, and the arts generally, are life-enriching. As for psychoanalysis, I wish DJ would have asked her if she meant psychoanalysis in the strict Freudian sense, or psychological explanation generally. If she was referring to the latter, then I don’t see any problem.

The book Doubt is more solid and factual than the impression one gets from the interview, because maybe Jennifer Michael Hecht has varied interests.
See the [  reviews at Amazon.com ]
As an example,

The Freethought Society and Humanist Association in Philadelphia co-sponsor a Secular Book Club, and Doubt: A History was the first book we discussed. Surprisingly, the moderator said the book wasn’t recommended to him, but rather, he found it by browsing in a book store. That’s a shame because this book is such a wonderful survey of religious doubt in the Western World, that also touches on some aspects of doubt in the Eastern World as they influenced and related to the West. ....

or

..I’ve been waiting for a guide like this for a long time. My religious friends have their bible; but this is mine. Mine. My source of wisdom from the ancients. My source of morality tales and life stories of my martyrs.

One point that did come up early in the interview (before digressing to poetry and skepticism about science) was that for hundreds of years people have outgrown religions, and yet blam! they get taken in again like Charlie Brown and Lucy.  We learn about the Greek myths. At one point people believed this stuff and unbelievers were ostracized - then the Greeks outgrew these religions. And yet the Romans picked these up and of course later took up Christianity.

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Posted: 27 December 2008 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I think my discomfort with the “Poetry and Psychoanalysis and Art > Science” portion of this is assuaged when I think of a line from The Raiders of the Lost Ark:
Dr Jones “Archaeology is the search for FACTS. [writes word on chalkboard]. Not TRUTH. If you want truth, the philosophy department is down the hall.”

If you want Facts, then Science is the way. If you want Truth, then hey - whatever works for you, works for you.

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Posted: 25 January 2009 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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This is really a brilliant woman!  Aside from my being so impressed with the way she expresses herself, she’s right on point regarding an individual’s impression of what might constitute “truth” within that individual’s life.  I also like her point on how the various religions have changed what they believe (or should believe) over time.  If the institutions can’t settle, how can a follower?

While I don’t know if psychoanalysis is even a healthy thing to devote much time to, I do see where expression in the form of poetry can manage to capture the essesence of a mind’s current state of flux.  This has value even if the author is the sole person to ever reflect upon it.

Having had my own life experiences to weigh in, I can’t agree with some of her own conclusions being presented, however, the book nevertheless goes to the top of my “things to read” list.  Thanks once again CFI.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

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Posted: 26 January 2009 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Jackson - 27 December 2008 09:06 AM

One point that did come up early in the interview (before digressing to poetry and skepticism about science) was that for hundreds of years people have outgrown religions, and yet blam! they get taken in again like Charlie Brown and Lucy.

That is a wonderful and perfectly apt analogy! Surely one of the defining characteristics of humanity is our drive to make stories - explanatory narratives about life.  And if a story is comforting enough (Heaven is around the corner) and becomes a sufficiently widely shared meme (major religions), we humans - the vast majority of us, anyway - will fall for some, possibly updated, version of it over and over and over, even when stepping back even briefly to examine it’s veracity would illuminate its fundamental falsehood.

Of course, those of us who have developed appropriate doubt / knowledge about deities and religions respectively are certainly an increment ahead in that area of life. And that same life skill and knowledge provides valuable insurance against being duped in other areas.

Nevertheless, speaking only for myself, I know I’ve been Charlie running to “make the kick” for the umpteenth time in other areas of my life.  Charlie WANTS very much to believe that Lucy will allow him to make his kick rather than to make a fool of himself again.  And I’d guess this particular scenario is so iconic because there is some Charlie Brown - an urge to surrender to wishful thinking when we should know better -  in most or all of us.
Understanding that helps me, at least, to have more compassion for my fellows and family who are in the thrall of supernatural silliness.

[ Edited: 26 January 2009 07:27 AM by Trail Rider ]
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Brad

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Posted: 27 January 2009 05:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Faith cannot exist without doubt while even that which seems certain may nevertheless be suspect.

Faith can have at least three paths; 

1. to stand one’s ground regardless as it apparently crumbles around you,
2. to evolve one’s discernment through troublesome doubt, ever seeking to link a changing horizon to the anchor of such faith. 
3. to abandon one’s faith and replace the resulting void with “something”.

Linking can be fun!

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

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Posted: 07 April 2009 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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If you are interested in hearing Hecht clarify some of the ideas she talked about in this interview, I hope you will check out Episode 27 of Books and Ideas. It is a follow-up interview with Ms. Hecht.

http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/03/27/podcast27-hecht

I don’t always agree with everything she says, but I think the she makes points that are worth thinking about.

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Ginger Campbell, MD
Brain Science Podcast
SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG

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Posted: 11 April 2009 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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docartemis - 07 April 2009 11:33 AM

If you are interested in hearing Hecht clarify some of the ideas she talked about in this interview, I hope you will check out Episode 27 of Books and Ideas. It is a follow-up interview with Ms. Hecht.

http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/03/27/podcast27-hecht

I don’t always agree with everything she says, but I think the she makes points that are worth thinking about.

I’m having trouble with this particular link.
I don’t have difficulty with the previous one for episode 26
http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/02/27/bookspodcast-26/
Can you check if there is a typo?

I purchased the book Doubt and really found it interesting and complementary to other books.
It is still fascinating to me that the ancient Greeks DID believe what we consider myths.

Jackson

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Posted: 21 April 2009 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Jackson - 11 April 2009 12:22 PM
docartemis - 07 April 2009 11:33 AM

If you are interested in hearing Hecht clarify some of the ideas she talked about in this interview, I hope you will check out Episode 27 of Books and Ideas. It is a follow-up interview with Ms. Hecht.

http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/03/27/podcast27-hecht

I don’t always agree with everything she says, but I think the she makes points that are worth thinking about.

I’m having trouble with this particular link.
I don’t have difficulty with the previous one for episode 26
http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/02/27/bookspodcast-26/
Can you check if there is a typo?

I purchased the book Doubt and really found it interesting and complementary to other books.
It is still fascinating to me that the ancient Greeks DID believe what we consider myths.

Jackson

I was able to download the *.mp3 from iTunes.
There is a typo in the link Ginger Campbell contributed (and also in a number of places on her website)
it should read
http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/03/28/podcast27-hecht/
(that is /03/28/,  not /03/27/ which goes to HTTP404)
http://thesongoftheday.com/index.cgi?_d=040607

I found this ‘interview’ fascinating. Both Ginger Campbell and Jennifer Michael Hecht are extremely articulate.

[ Edited: 21 April 2009 07:40 PM by Jackson ]
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Posted: 18 May 2009 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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docartemis - 07 April 2009 11:33 AM

If you are interested in hearing Hecht clarify some of the ideas she talked about in this interview, I hope you will check out Episode 27 of Books and Ideas. It is a follow-up interview with Ms. Hecht.

http://docartemis.com/blog/2009/03/27/podcast27-hecht

I don’t always agree with everything she says, but I think the she makes points that are worth thinking about.

She again vaguely attacked science with references to 19th century pseudoscience and now how science is reported in the media. It’s as if she doesn’t have any experience or knowledge of the scientific method, the philosophy of science, and the history of actual science. She mentions “science changes all the time” but doesn’t at all talk about evidence, studies, or clinical trials so she could be talking about opinions, hypotheses, and journalists. It’s as if she doesn’t understand the cumulative way of gaining knowledge through evidence and falsification, the strength of evidence matters, reproduction matters, and methology matters. It’s a disgrace to attack science in this way, generally attacking all science and scientists, without making one specific statement against any scientist or study. It’s quite clear that this is to leave room to pick and choose what scientific conclusions to accept and which do dismiss out of hand. I knew this stunk of postmodernism, she refers to her love of Foucault, they’re just as bad as the creationists in their attacks of science, and use very similar arguments and logic.

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