Ronald A. Lindsay - The Future of The Center for Inquiry
Posted: 17 March 2009 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Ronald A. Lindsay is a bioethicist, lawyer, and chief executive officer and senior research fellow of the Center for Inquiry. For many years he practiced law in Washington, DC, and was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and American University, where he taught jurisprudence and philosophy courses. His new book is Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas.

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Ron Lindsay recounts his nearly thirty year history with the organization, including his role in a landmark legal case in Alabama regarding the question of whether or not secular humanism is a religion, elaborating on how the argument has been used since by the religious right. He describes the relationship of the “family of organizations” at the Center for Inquiry, including the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP), giving their histories. He talks about Paul Kurtz’ inspiring and foundational role in all of these organizations and in the worldwide movements that they support. And he talks about why it is more important now than ever to get involved at the grassroots to advance the scientific and secular values of the Center for Inquiry, even with President Obama in the White House, highlighting concerns he has with Obama’s positions on a number of issues.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

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Posted: 22 March 2009 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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In which was otherwise an interesting program as someone involved in a fledging atheist organization, I’d have to take small issue with something DJ said on this program, on the issue of abortion. I would agree that there should be less stigmatization of those who get abortions and the procedure itself, I don’t think it helpful to characterize a policy that seeks to minimize the need for abortion as based on irrational assumptions. An abortion usually occurs in difficult circumstances, and policies that minimizing the need for abortion can include better educating people on contraception and community groups, none of which need have a religious connotation, and it can be advocated while still accepting that an abortion is the right approach in certain circumstances.

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Posted: 22 March 2009 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Aside from the forced sexual act.

So after a mistake or lack of precaution is abortion really necessary?
RU846 and other morning after medications being available,  being a 2nd chance and surgical removal surely the last option.

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Posted: 22 March 2009 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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At 3 minutes, 23 seconds into the podcast, Ronald Lindsay refers to a right-wing Alabama judge named Learned Hand and his role in an anti-secular humanist challenge in the 1980s.  But Learned Hand was a very prominent progressive judge from New York who died in 1961.  Did Mr. Lindsay just get the name wrong, or is there another, much more obscure judge with the same name?  If there is not, does anyone know the correct name of the Alabama judge?

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“We do not respect people’s beliefs; we evaluate their reasons.  If my reasons are good enough, you will helplessly believe what I believe.  That is what it is to be a rational human being.  Reasons are contagious.”  — Sam Harris

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Posted: 22 March 2009 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Roger_Bacon - 22 March 2009 02:32 PM

Aside from the forced sexual act.

So after a mistake or lack of precaution is abortion really necessary?
RU846 and other morning after medications being available,  being a 2nd chance and surgical removal surely the last option.

I hate to keep beating dead horses on multiple threads, but(as a health care professional, I can tell you) that truly is NOT the only reason abortions are done. Medical reasons include women with severe PIH ( (which is pregnancy induced hypertension I’ve seen pregnant women have strokes from this), cancers diagnosed during pregnancy, severe genetic dysmorphias, and I’m sure others can add quite a few other reasons a doctor would recommend an abortion. There are also birth control failures. Did you know that some common medications can render the birth control pill ineffective? If the doctor or pharmacist forgets to tell a woman this when prescribing these medication to a woman who truly does not, can not have another child becomes pregnant, should she be penalized if she wants to terminate the pregnancy. This is a very complicated issue, deserving of more thought than casual sound bites made by people who do not truly know all of the nuances involved. These pronouncement contribute to the ‘shame’ of women who have cause to use this medical procedure for any reason whatsoever, and reminds me of the judgments that in the not so distant past placed on woman who had been raped or physically abused.

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Posted: 22 March 2009 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dthuleen - 22 March 2009 04:14 PM

At 3 minutes, 23 seconds into the podcast, Ronald Lindsay refers to a right-wing Alabama judge named Learned Hand and his role in an anti-secular humanist challenge in the 1980s.  But Learned Hand was a very prominent progressive judge from New York who died in 1961.  Did Mr. Lindsay just get the name wrong, or is there another, much more obscure judge with the same name?  If there is not, does anyone know the correct name of the Alabama judge?

Yes, what WAS up with that?  Did he not also make a remark that the judge was known scornfully as “Un-Learned Hand?”
Certainly not this Learned Hand:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_Hand


Separately, thank you very much, asanta, for noting some of the medical and ethical matters which surround the subject of abortion in the real world, as distinct from the world of ill-informed opinion, where the subject usually resides.

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Posted: 23 March 2009 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Roger, abortions are also done for the health and the life of the woman too.  Not just rape.  It is another stereotype, perpetuated by the Religious Reich, to say the majority of abortions are done due to “mistakes” or unprotected sex.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 24 March 2009 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The business about referring to Learned Hand as a right-wing judge from Alabama has been bugging me.

I would think that as someone who has spent a good portion of his life as an attorney and who has worked on cases involving attacks on secular humanism and church / state separation, Mr. Lindsay would:
1) be very careful with language and use of names, and
2) probably know that Learned Hand was not an Alabama wing-nut.

The judge from the Alabama case in question was William Brevard Hand.
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/07/us/judge-who-banned-textbooks-hero-of-the-right.html?sec=&spon;=&pagewanted=all

But Mr. Lindsay didn’t just confuse the two judges by their common last name, but also made reference to Learned Hand being known as “Un-Learned Hand.”  Really?  By whom?

As Mr. Lindsay has been chosen to lead and to manage CFI, this careless mistake of fact and odd derision raises a bit of concern for me, although it was presumably an innocent mistake and a poor attempt at humor.

[ Edited: 24 March 2009 05:44 AM by Trail Rider ]
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Posted: 25 March 2009 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Let me respond briefly to Trail Rider (and others). The judge in Alabama was William Brevard Hand. However, to distinguish him from the justly esteemed Learned Hand—as well as to poke a little fun at Judge W. B. Hand’s apparent unfamiliarity with the U.S. Constitution—at the time of the litigation Judge W.B. Hand WAS commonly referred to by those who believe in church-state separation as Judge Unlearned Hand, as confirmed by this essay by my colleague (and, at the time, client) Paul Kurtz: http://www.theharbinger.org/articles/plural/kurtz.html. Sorry for the brain spasm (although the case was roughly 23 years ago). It’s reassuring to know we have a very knowledgeable base of support.

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Ronald A. Lindsay

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Posted: 28 March 2009 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thank you, Mr. Lindsay, for your reply and clarification.  I see now how the misunderstanding occurred.
I wish you great success at the helm of CFI!

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Posted: 29 March 2009 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I would like to listen to this but the last audio online is from February 20. Can anyone help me out?

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 29 March 2009 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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PLaClair - 29 March 2009 05:40 AM

I would like to listen to this but the last audio online is from February 20. Can anyone help me out?

It’s the February 13 episode:

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ronald_a._lindsay_the_future_of_the_center_for_inquiry/

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“We do not respect people’s beliefs; we evaluate their reasons.  If my reasons are good enough, you will helplessly believe what I believe.  That is what it is to be a rational human being.  Reasons are contagious.”  — Sam Harris

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