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This Week in Humanism 2018–10–29


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/29

“Since the founding of the United Nations, the role of the United States has been to bolster its sovereignty by diplomatically rejecting the nativist impulses of dictators or their nationalist governments. Never perfect, but demonstrating how secular democracy can lead to peace, prosperity, and justice, the US has served at times as an aspirational moral good in terms of social attainment.

However, the United States is turning its back on international agreements and losing its moral and diplomatic voice concerning human rights, climate change, and denuclearization. What’s more, our rejection of bilateral commitments does not make the world safer, richer, or kinder.

In meetings at the United Nations this week, there seemed to be a certain filling of the vacuum left by America’s lack of leadership, especially for the rights of those who choose to be secular or who are outright nonbelievers.”


“Today’s mainstream media has captured America as entrenched in a belligerent political civil war between “Trump Country”, a neo-conservative bastion of nationalism and theologism, and “Blue America”, a liberal base which supports a socially progressive platform rejecting rigid border law and social authoritarianism. From this categorical lens, Monrovia, Indiana, falls squarely on the Trump pole: the tiny mid-western rural town (population: 1,443) is in Morgan county, where Trump won 80 percent of the presidential vote in 2016. Against this familiar hyper-polarized backdrop, Fredrick Wiseman’s somewhat apolitical, and remarkably humanistic Monrovia, Indiana, is refreshingly essential viewing.

Rather than expressly opine about the 2016 US presidential election, Wiseman’s remarkably disciplined camera instead spends several minutes at a time covering various everyday Monrovia functions with an unhurried rhythm not too different from a day of local errands. Of course, true to Wiseman’s style, some of those chores consist of attending political functions. But unlike the hot button national topics covered in Wiseman’s most recent documentaries, Jackson Heights and Ex Libris, the issues covered in his most recent opus have a uniquely local twinge.”


By James A. Haught

Physicist Lawrence Krauss, a brilliant hero of the freethought movement, fell into disgrace because several young women accused him of unwanted sexual advances, crude gropings and molestations.

His downfall came after years of dispute over whether Dr. Michael Shermer — founder of Skeptic magazine and a Scientific American columnist — took advantage of a tipsy young woman at an atheist convention.

Next, David Silverman was fired as president of American Atheists after he was accused of forcing himself onto unwilling women in hotel rooms during the group’s meetings.”


“Canadian-American global thinker Steven Pinker uses statistics in his latest book to show how health, prosperity, peace, and happiness have vastly improved for most people in the world and living conditions continue to rise, despite media headlines that make it seem as though life is getting worse.

RFE/RL Belarusian correspondent Alex Znatkevich interviewed the Harvard professor and psychologist about his book, Enlightenment Now: The Case For Reason, Science, Humanism, And Progress, and discusses how too much bad news can lead to apathy and “radicalism.””



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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