The Humanist

The Humanist is a magazine focusing on critical inquiry and social concern from a humanist perspective. Published by the American Humanist Association, The Humanist covers everything from science and religion to politics and popular culture.

Articles from Vol. 57, No. 2, March-April

A Legacy from Parent to Child
The "need to believe" versus the "will to be skeptical"--which typically wins out? If the sales of books on angels, after life confessions, and alien encounters are any measure, the need to believe comes up the undisputed champ in the 1990s. But,...
Behind the White Coat
Prior to Louis Pasteur's discovery of microbes--an achievement considered by many to mark the dawn of modern medicine--hospitals were dangerous places in which patients were more likely to die of a contagion acquired there than if they had simply...
Big Brother Goes to High School
Every day, public schools in America are becoming safer. Walk-through metal detectors have been in use in many inner city schools for over a decade, while hand-held desectors and random weapons screenings are more popular on smaller, rural campuses....
Born-Again Generals: Too Late for Moral Absolution
On December 4, 1996, the Washington Post ran a front page story about a group of some sixty retired U.S. and non U.S. generals and admirals--led by G. Lee Butler, former commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, and Andrew J. Goodpaster, former...
Brain Research and Folk Psychology
there is good news for intellectual romantics--those people who look back longingly, even enviously, to historical periods when significant intellectual revolutions were blossoming. How fascinating, how exciting it must have been to be a part of the...
Dateline Death Row: On Watching a Man Die
Number six-two-six . . ." Yes, that's the first part of my raffle ticket. "... one-four-four." That's me! Normally, I would have shouted out, "I win!" But this was no time to celebrate. My lucky blue raffle ticket meant I'd won the "privilege" of...
Divided We Stand
He was more than ninety years old when I met him, and that was nine' teen years ago. He lived alone in a little apartment somewhere in Jerusalem. All I remember is that he had the seamed and spotted skin of the very old, but his eyes were bright....
Humanizing Science
Part of my humanism says that, in order for science to be of value, it must have value to the people from whom our scientific information comes To use other human beings as objects of study and then hide the results from them--using such results only...
Let's Stand Up for David Dellinger
I sat there applauding with the rest of the audience at Baseline Middle School in Boulder, Colorado. But then I said to myself, "For Christ's sake, stand up. If anyone deserves to be stood up for it's this guy." So I stood up, and slowly the audience...
New Strategies, New Groups
We know a great deal more about the right-wing religious movement in 1997 than we did a year ago, in part because of the publication of three books. Easily the best is Fred Clarkson's Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy,...
Open Secrets
In his excellent article, "A Filmmaker's Credo: Some Thoughts on Politics, History, and the Movies," in the September/October 1997 issue of The Humanist, Oliver Stone failed to mention his greatest contribution to the understanding of our nation's...
Psychological Aftereffects of Abortion: The Rest of the Story
Over the last decade, a consensus has been reached in the medical and scientific communities that most women who have an abortion experience little or no psychological harm. Yet a woman's ability to cope psychologically after an abortion continues...
Rose-Colored Lenses and the Consumer Price Index
Economics used to be called the dismal science. Early nineteenth-century economists enlivened public discourse with coldly rational predictions about the inevitability of poverty and the fate of the poor. Their rhetoric was indeed dismal, but just...
Silent Reminders
Yesterday I opened a bag of cinnamon-coated pecans, put a few into my mouth, and began enjoying their distinct taste. Suddenly I was flooded with memories from almost twenty years ago--memories of gathering pecans under a tree in my grandmother's...
The People versus Bill Baird: Struggling for Your Right to Privacy
Thirty years ago, 679 students at Boston University signed a letter asking me to come to Massachusetts to challenge a nineteenth century law that denied unmarried people access to birth control and abortion devices and information. This law, as amended...
Trading Cards, Heroes, and Whistleblowers
This past summer, I drove to my hometown to see my two nieces and their children, who were visiting my brother. While there, I overheard my two grandnephews talking about sports and their collections of sports cards. One claimed he possessed a card...
What Quinlan Can Tell Kevorkian about the Right to Die
In the summer of 1973, Karen Ann Quinlan shared with her friends a disturbing premonition: she was going to die young, she told them; she was going down in history. Almost two years later, on April 15, 1975, twenty-one-year-old Quinlan, in a coma of...
Why We Must Restigmatize the Institution of Illegitimacy
In keeping with the policy of The Humanist to consider the diverse social, political, and philosophical viewpoints of its readers, this occasional feature allows for the expression of alternative and dissenting views on issues of importance to the...