Learning from Other Countries?
By Robert Bernstein   |   June 28, 2022

“We live in the greatest country on Earth!” So said a caller on Bill Maher’s Real Time on the eve of the unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Maher asked the caller how he knew this. “Because I have lived in the U.S. my entire life.” Maher tried to explain the illogic of this, […]

Are People Basically Good or Evil? Pt. 1
By Robert Bernstein   |   May 3, 2022

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the latest situation that might lead us to think that people under the surface are evil and only a thin veneer of civilization protects us. My college lady friend recently introduced me to the book Humankind that takes this on. Many issues are raised, and this will be the first […]

 

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Can We Trust Eyewitness Testimony?
By Robert Bernstein   |   April 12, 2022

“Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?” Variations of this quote date back to Chico Marx in Duck Soup and earlier. Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has testified in criminal trials that eyewitness testimony is not as trustworthy as it seems. Loftus has shown that it is easy to implant false memories of […]

Driving is Subsidized?
By Robert Bernstein   |   April 5, 2022

Do you know how much private motor vehicle use is subsidized in the U.S.? Here are examples of motor vehicle expenses not paid adequately by user fees: “Free” parking. Climate impacts. Land used for roads. Road maintenance. Pollution deaths and illness. “Barrier effect” of blocking access to pedestrians and bicyclists. Military expenses to maintain global […]

Sacrifice for a Better Future?
By Robert Bernstein   |   March 22, 2022

With Putin’s attack on Ukraine, many of us wrote to President Biden to ask him to cut off Russian oil imports, even if it meant a rise in prices and/or rationing. In my message I called on him to speak to the American people to sacrifice for a greater good. I talked of how my […]

Time for World Government?
By Robert Bernstein   |   March 8, 2022

As I write this, Putin is brutally attacking Ukraine. Do these things really still happen in the 21st century? Is it finally time to put an end to such unilateral behavior with a world government? The idea goes back to ancient times, when it was largely promoted by powerful emperors who wanted to expand their […]

Why Follow the News?
By Robert Bernstein   |   February 15, 2022

I have friends who proudly say they shut out following the news. They find it depressing. I have another friend who is on top of everything in the news. Why should we follow the news? Democracy requires participation. And participation requires informed understanding. My friend who is on top of the news does not attend […]

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Justice for the Little People?
By Robert Bernstein   |   February 1, 2022

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids all men to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread – the rich as well as the poor.” So wrote Anatole France in The Red Lily (1894). It is difficult to express the injustice of the legal system better than that one brilliant […]

Climate Crisis as Market Failure?
By Robert Bernstein   |   November 16, 2021

As I write this, countries from around the world are convening in Glasgow for COP26 to solve the climate crisis. It is 26 because for 26 years these meetings have been going on and the threat keeps getting worse. I first began talking about the climate crisis in 1981 when it was called Global Warming […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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