Forgiveness or Justice?
By Robert Bernstein   |   December 28, 2021

Christianity is all about forgiveness and I am writing this during the Christmas season. Could a society function with nothing but forgiveness as an ethical code? Astronomer and 1981 Humanist of the Year Carl Sagan wrote a brilliant essay about this for Parade Magazine in 1993. Here is a link to a copy: https://swt.org/sagan. It […]

Person vs. Human Life?
By Robert Bernstein   |   October 26, 2021

The recent ban on abortions in Texas is just the latest round in this endless culture war. I had thought nothing new could be said on the topic. But an article in Free Inquiry magazine about a dozen years ago raised a new point for me. The point? That a human life is not the […]

 

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Are We All Humanists?
By Robert Bernstein   |   October 19, 2021

A horrific attack by fanatical Muslim Americans in San Bernardino in December 2015 raised concerns that there would be counterattacks against innocent Muslims. In typical Santa Barbara fashion, we had a solidarity rally to show support for Muslims. Local Imam Yama Niazi welcomed people, noting the presence of Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and many Christian denominations. […]

Are Monsanto and GMOs Evil?
By Robert Bernstein   |   October 5, 2021

How many of these claims about Monsanto and/or GMOs have you heard? Monsanto sues farmers for having GMO crops on their land due to wind-blown pollen? Monsanto uses a terminator gene to make their seeds infertile? Monsanto’s policies in poor countries are causing widespread suicide of farmers? GMOs favor large agribusiness over small farmers? GMOs […]

I Never Thought of That
By Robert Bernstein   |   September 14, 2021

Some things really are taboo, and I want to write more about that in the future. I recently posted a cartoon on Facebook that showed a guy saying, “Having a dog has convinced me that animals have souls. And that is why I became a vegetarian.” The other person says, “Yet you feed your dog […]

What Will it Take to Act on the Climate Crisis?
By Robert Bernstein   |   August 31, 2021

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! As expressed so well by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, these are the things we evolved to fear. Unfortunately, in the modern world, these are not the things that really matter. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its latest report emphasizing the urgency of […]

What is Infrastructure?
By Robert Bernstein   |   August 24, 2021

When you hear the word “infrastructure” do your eyes glaze over? As I write this, Congress is debating an infrastructure bill that is on the order of a trillion dollars. Is that a lot or a little? Almost by definition, infrastructure is all the boring stuff that enables all the cool things in society to […]

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What is a Personal Choice?
By Robert Bernstein   |   August 12, 2021

The 1960s TV show Get Smart often offered deep insights cloaked in humor. In the episode, “Do I Hear a Vaults?” the Chief gets locked in a bank vault with agent Larrabee. There is only enough air to last 24 hours and it is on a time lock that won’t open until the end of […]

What are the Root Causes of the Border Crisis?
By Robert Bernstein   |   April 22, 2021

“Radical” is often used to disqualify an idea as “extreme.” Did you know that it comes from the same origin as “radish” and means to “go to the root” of a problem? Every night, the news is full of the crisis at the US-Mexico border. The “analysis” is limited to the immediate humanitarian issues along […]

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How Can We Be Smarter?
By Robert Bernstein   |   April 1, 2021

“Mistakes were made (but not by me)” is a quote attributed to President Reagan and later to President George W Bush. It is also the title of the book I would most recommend everyone should read. Before we can get smarter, perhaps we should find out “Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful […]

Are Your Beliefs Falsifiable?
By Robert Bernstein   |   January 21, 2021

I used to buy snacks at the Isla Vista Deli Mart even though they were a bit more expensive than the competitors. I went there just to engage the former owner Mike in debate about Donald Trump, whom he supported. (Note that the Deli Mart has new owners who are not Trump supporters.) When Trump would […]

Can We Discuss Politics and Religion?
By Robert Bernstein   |   December 31, 2020

“If you want to avoid heated arguments, never discuss religion, politics, or whether the toilet paper roll should go over or under.” So said the wise sage “Weird Al” Yankovic. Religion and politics go to the very heart of our deepest values. If we avoid discussing what matters most to us, how can any learning […]

Better than Democracy?
By Robert Bernstein   |   December 3, 2020

Winston Churchill famously said, “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…” I write this as Joe Biden has been declared “president-elect” in the news and while Donald Trump still sends out repeated appeals for money. Record numbers voted for each side. […]

The Opposite of Progress is Fashion?
By Robert Bernstein   |   November 5, 2020

People often compliment me on my colorful shirts. Much of the credit goes to my friend Robin; she finds some of the best for me on eBay. While I always say “thank you,” I often ask, “Do you know what is the opposite of progress?” They usually look mystified. “Fashion!” I triumphantly reply. I point […]

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