Are there “mysteries” that will forever baffle us?

My colleague Michael Vlerick and I just published a paper in the journal Dialectica, dissecting the arguments of the so-called “New Mysterians”. This group of thinkers, among whom luminaries such as Noam Chomsky, Jerry Fodor and Steven Pinker, claim that some problems will always remain ineffable “mysteries” to us, because our brains are just not equipped to understand them. Just… Lees verder »Are there “mysteries” that will forever baffle us?


Pure fallacies are a rare breed.  You encounter examples of such arguments in textbooks of logic, but rarely in real life. Real-life fallacies generally bear some resemblance to valid forms of reasoning, which makes them hard to distinguish. Nevertheless, I found a genuine, 24-carat nugget of bad reasoning the other day.  The historian Jeroen Bouterse was reacting to my essay… Lees verder »Whataboutery

How to chase away a university

For the past week or so I’ve been in Budapeston a study visit at the Central European University (CEU), where I’ve been doing some research on cultural evolution with the anthropologist Dan Sperber and his group.  I wouldn’t normally be blogging about this kind of everyday academic excursion, but if you’ve been following the news at all closely for the… Lees verder »How to chase away a university

Letter from a Young Contrarian

I received this letter from an Iraqi ex-Muslim studying at a Belgian university, among countless others, after publishing my piece on the invisibility of ex-Muslims. The author suggested sharing his letter, but he wishes to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. It is a powerful testimony that deserves to be read, especially by those on the Regressive Left who have betrayed… Lees verder »Letter from a Young Contrarian

Where are all the ex-Muslims?

How many people do you know who used to be Muslim, but no longer believe? […] I thought so. Me neither. I know plenty of ex-Christians, even ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and former Reformed Protestants from the Dutch Bible belt. I also have a number of liberal Muslim friends, who believe in Allah and in the afterlife, but who read the Qur’an… Lees verder »Where are all the ex-Muslims?

Abolish the freedom of religion!

I am rather fond of most of our freedoms. But one I’d like to get rid of is the freedom of religion. At best, that principle is completely superfluous, but in most cases it’s also discriminatory, arbitrary, and absurd.  The principle of “freedom of religion” is enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and the First Amendment of the U.S.… Lees verder »Abolish the freedom of religion!

Why we all love minorities (and want to be one)

Who wants to belong to a minority? Who wants to feel left out or marginalized, merely because you are different from the mainstream, or because your hold unpopular views? Who would want to wage a lonely battle against a crushing orthodoxy? Actually, it turns out that a lot of people would. Many of us cherish and celebrate minorities, and would… Lees verder »Why we all love minorities (and want to be one)

Disbelief in belief

A man walking in the forest at night arrives at a house with lights burning inside. Looking through the window, he sees people jumping frantically and flailing about. Poor fellows, thinks the man: they are having seizures, or they must be terribly ill, or they have become insane. What the man doesn’t hear is the music playing inside. The people… Lees verder »Disbelief in belief

Is religion a stumbling block to integration?

I want to argue in favor of the motion that religion constitutes a stumbling block to integration. By this I mean: integration in our modern, secular, liberal, democratic order. I will distinguish two types of reasons: one concerns some fundamental features of religion as a cultural phenomenon. The other reason has to do with the vagaries of history and sheer… Lees verder »Is religion a stumbling block to integration?