Carnival of the Liberals #10


I received 45 submissions for this edition of The Carnival of the Liberals, and the carnival rules required me to select only a final ten. That was harsh; there were many excellent links sent in, and I struggled with the need to reject so many. Ultimately, I just had to let my own biases rule my decision, so if you sent in a submission and I didn’t use it, it’s nothing personal and it says nothing about a lack of quality in your work—it just means it didn’t fit my narrow criteria for what I wanted to read this time around. As you’ll see, I tend to promote godless secularism and grappling with real world issues in science, and so some fascinating and worthy articles on war and economics and labor just didn’t make the cut this time around.

Let’s begin with a little warmup: a few general statements about liberal principles.

Another Blasted Weblog has a Credible credo—he begins with godlessness and biology. That sounds like a solid foundation to me.

Not every liberal is going to be comfortable with atheism, but like The Questionable Authority, should at least be willing to ask hard questions…such as, Am I a liberal? Reading the list, I have to say that Mike definitely is a liberal.

If you know me, though, you know that I’m very comfortable with atheism, and am rather militant in thinking we ought to promote it more. Liberal Christians might want to skip the next few links.

Doctor Biobrain questions the rationality of god-belief in God’s Big Kick.

Without considering the philosophy of religion, another reason to reject it is the self-serving hypocrisy of Christian conservatives. TayTV shows us some videos from the War on Christianity, that ludicrous self-pity-fest in which the Religious Right is currently wallowing.

Even if you do detest religion, as I do, we liberals need to consider how to deal with it strategically. The Intelligent Party discusses principles and pragmatism in Unholy Alliances and the Monolith.

As I threatened, I was biased towards picking posts that discussed science or science policy, and that’s what you’re going to find in the remainder of my selections.

Adventures in Ethics and Science charges in with a difficult subject. What is the role of the media in informing the public about science issues? How can nonscientists make good decisions about incredibly complicated subjects? How do people reconcile their views of how the world ought to be with how it actually is? Journalism, science, politics, and choosing sides is a long post that wrestles with those hard, hard questions.

Halfway There tells us that Reality is liberal. The conservative movement has crashed into the unmoveable wall of harsh reality, and all we have to do is pick up the pieces. Can we do that? Zeno has productive suggestions.

Jerry Monaco argues in Science and Common Sense that our perceptions and biases about the world, what is often called common sense, must be measured against the evidence and reality, and sometimes reality is counter-intuitive.

A central tenet of biology is respect for diversity, and the only way we can maintain diversity is to maintain a wealth of habitat. 10,000 Birds urges us to Protect the Commons. Isn’t it odd how conservatives have abandoned any attempt at conservation, and it’s up to liberals to protect the planet?

Overpopulation is an important issue to conservationists, and as we see increasing restrictions on birth control and abortion, it’s becoming important to civil libertarians, as well. Austin Cline discusses the contradictions in the opposition to reproductive choice in Abortion & Contraception: What if they Really Were Private?

Revolvo Inritus compares the media response to two different, current stories—the unearthing of an apocryphal gospel and the discovery of a wonderful new fossil—and concludes that there is something wrong with the media’s priorities in Tiktaalik And The Gospel Of Judas.

The next edition of The Carnival of the Liberals will be hosted at And Doctor Biobrain’s Response Is… on 26 April. You’ve got two weeks—submit those links!


  1. says

    A really excellent line-up of posts. Nice job! And, of course, I love the science and godlessness orientation this edition of CotL took, but that’s just my inner infidel speaking.

  2. says

    Fantastic line-up, PZ. Thanks for including my humble submission. I also find the conservative opposition to conservation confusing. Maybe they should start calling themselves what they really are (I’ll let someone else fill in that blank!)

  3. says

    Booyah! And the Biobrain wins again. Interestingly, my winning entry had been intended for the prior CotL, but had been submitted late (unbeknownst to me); and so I wrote a different post for this carnival and had fully expected that one to win. But no matter, I won anyway. I guess it’s hard to go wrong when you’re shitting gold.

    And again, for all you out there reading my carnival-winning post: You’re welcome.

  4. says


    I had a friend in college that had a punk band named Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

    That’s always seemed to me to be a good description of a healthy portion of the Republican power structure.

  5. says

    Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

    They’re still playing. Now what they mostly do is power pop covers of show tunes and easy listening. It’s brilliant.

  6. Alan says

    Well, I’ve said this before (once), but probably nobody read it, but I don’t think its necessary or productive for atheists/secularists to focus on “godlessness”.

    I believe (and the Nedow suit was a good example) that agitating religious people by focusing on the godless aspect of secular humanism results in a backlash and further alienates our cause.

    More importantly I think its important to understand that “atheism” or “godless-ness” is not important for the type of society we all want. We want a society where reason and evidence and critical thinking guide our lives and determine our policies and laws. Belief in God is not a problem in that type of society. It is dogma and intransient belief that is the enemy. As you know, Jefferson, Madison, Paine, et al were all Deists and who here among us would not welcome such rational and humanistic minds as those among us.

    In fact, I would argue that a utopian Atheist society and a Deistic utopian society would be mostly indistinguishable in laws, policies, culture, acceptance of science, etc.

    Finally, speaking strategically, I believe that it would be orders of magnitude easier to achieve a secular humanist society by advocating science and reason without necessarily advocating Atheism.

    I know many people who question religious dogma and accept science and rationality while maintaining some belief in a “supreme being”. But I know few currently religious adults who can/have make the jump straight to Atheism — its just more unsettling to them. And again, its not necessary for the type of society we want.

    Baby steps….

  7. Alan says

    The conservative movement has crashed into the unmoveable wall of harsh reality….

    While this is true, there are those on the far Left who would have us crash into the unmoveable wall of harsh reality on the other side.

    Examples: Postmoderdism, denying biology has any role in anything and that everyting is a social construct, irrational fear of genetic research and cloning, science and civilization are evil, etc.

  8. chuko says

    The difference is that the conservative movement denying science/reality is a large percentage of the population and they’re in power. Has anyone ever seen a real postmodernist outside Santa Cruz, Berkeley, or Ann Arbor? Even there, I’ve never found one outside the philosophy or literature departments. If everything is politics, they’re doing very badly.

    The average person reading this blog is probably pretty liberal by American standards, but I doubt seriously that many of them (any of them?) are big supporters of this kind of philosophy.

  9. says

    Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

    They’re still playing. Now what they mostly do is power pop covers of show tunes and easy listening. It’s brilliant.

    Me First has always done covers. They were formed as a sort of punk rock ‘supergroup’ by Mike from NOFX (who also runs Fat Wreck Chords). Each album has it’s own theme — broadway musicals, 60s pop ballads, etc. They never played original music (they do have a running joke where they play ‘I Write The Songs’ by Barry Manilow at their live shows), so either Brian is thinking of another band or his friend happened to have a band with the same name.