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. 55, No. 6, November-December

A Nation of Hookers
Prostitution is the selling of one's person for money. I think we can all agree on that; it seems a safe enough definition. Matters turn inconvenient only when we start considering that a person can offer himself or herself as an entire self or personality...
An Essay concerning Our Weather
Mike Keefe drew a cartoon in the Denver Post that perfectly portrays a prevailing attitude toward our rogue weather. The cartoonist shows a man pointing at a calendar and yelling at the thunder clouds (or God?): "What? You having trouble with the small...
Armed and Dangerous: The Threat of the "Patriot militias."(Cover Story)
I would argue that there are at least three ways in which the various patriot militias can be categorized as an arm of the extreme right. The first is the use of intimidation and violence by members of these militias against local, state, and federal...
Creatures of the Metaphor
But let's not be naive. My imagery is freely lifted from Eliot's Waste Land, circa 1922. Doomsayers in all civilizations have supplied popular entertainment. Particularly intelligent people fall for the trap, refusing to acknowledge the inevitability...
Humanism and the Paradox of Politics
The political climate in America, at least that generated by and maintained in the popular media, appears to become more polarized, impassioned, and irrational every day. According to the talk-show hosts - and even by the very manner in which the media...
Is the Extremist Right Entirely Wrong?
Indeed, many Americans seem to believe that anyone with the slightest connection to the "patriot movement" or militia groups poses a serious and potentially violent threat to the internal security of the United States. Before the bodies had been cleared...
Of Cameos and Female Impotence
We women who think our mothers mad and blame our own madness on them may in fact be daughters of women who had only one route to power: their impotence. Denied access to exterior conduits of control, even in their own domains, many of our mothers took...
Open Season on Nairobi's Street Kids
Give me one shilling!" Sebastian cried when I first met him, trotting along at my elbow and in a rare mood of restraint. Since then, he usually asks for 20, or sometimes 200, shillings. "Give me one shilling, buy food." Over the year I spent living...
Pat's Patsy Political Program
Televangelist-politician Pat Robertson's misleadingly named Christian Coalition (it's not particularly Christian and it's not a coalition) unveiled its "Contract with the American Family" this past May. The contract is a political agenda calling for...
Reflections on Huxley's "Evolution and Ethics." (Thomas Huxley)
When walk through the woods behind my house, I don't see Tennyson's nature "red in tooth and claw." It's the beauty I see - and whiff. The scent of fallen leaves, familiar to me from fifty years ago, when my nose was much nearer the ground, is one of...
Shot in the Arm
I cried yesterday upon leaving the doctor's office. I know, it sounds melodramatic. Men in our society aren't supposed to cry. It's just that the news was so devastating. My bill was $120. I had received "two" injections of cortisone in my left shoulder...
Since You Asked
Since You Asked ... Dear Bill, I do not accept the 1995 Presidential Poll and Democratic Party Member, ship Acceptance Form" sent to me recently by the Democratic National Committee. Although I'm a registered Democrat, I use the party in the same...
The Borders of Words
For me, one of the most powerful and passionate scenes in American theater comes in William Gibson's The Miracle Worker, when young Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute from birth, speaks her first word - not as a concept but as a reality. Her teacher,...
The Skeptical Eye: So Human a Quest
My central love, professionally, is science. I've always had an abiding curiosity about the natural world, and science is this extraordinarily rich and deeply human process for helping us to try to understand it. Almost all of my time as a science editor...
The Time Has Come to Study the Face of Evil
There are many troubling lessons to be learned from the continuing horror in Bosnia, some more obvious than others. The more easily grasped lessons have to do with the inability of the world community, despite its revulsion at the unending cycle of atrocity...
The White Coat Passes like a Shadow in the Execution Chambers
Finally, the executioner, Samson, said to Monsieur Breton that there was no way or hope of succeeding, and told him to ask their Lordships if they wished to have the prisoner cut into pieces.... After two or three attempts, the executioner Samson and...
Women Make Gains Globally
The good news is that women are finally taking a giant step forward on a global scale. I think I actually experienced the beginning of this step when I attended the World Congress of Women for a Healthy Planet in Miami, Florida, in November 1991. Bella...