News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on February 12, 2010 in News

Former Anglican neocon: “Studying Islam Made Me an Atheist.”

I deleted an older post about the recent Campaign Finance Reform Decision because I think I may have been wrong. I should stay away from politics, anyway.

Massimo Pigliucci on How to Want to Change Your Mind. Also see the debut episode of the Rationally Speaking Podcast.

Useful blog: Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist.

Grr, somebody beat me to it: 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott February 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm

How is Ayn Rand #14 on that list? Katherine Hepburn at #15? Carlin at #30? Hepburn and Carlin are great in their respective fields, but overall “brilliant”? Rand is just horrible – some of the worst writing I’ve encountered. Lots of “pop” atheists.

Baron d’Holbach, Fredrich Nietzsche, and David Hume are all Top 10 material here. Colin McGinn is should be there, too – very underrated philosopher.


lukeprog February 12, 2010 at 8:13 pm


Yeah, when I read the list I thought maybe that I should make my own version, with smarter people on there.


Bill Maher February 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Scott, I agree about Rand. She is just awful. I would have put in Feuerbach. It is a travesty how much his influence is underrated.


MC February 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

PZ Myers linked that “Top 100″ list a while ago and it was equally criticized in the comments for having such awful thinkers listed among some real giants of intelligence.

I agree; it is just a superficial ordering of someone who spent too much time on “”


Matthew February 13, 2010 at 3:42 am

Grr, somebody beat me to it: 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time.

You can still do better. A list of “Top 50 Most Brilliant X” says very few good things about Xs when you have people like PZ Myers, Ayn Rand etc. on the list.

And on what kind of drugs do you have to be on to declare people like Bruce Lee and Ayn Rand as more brilliant than (to pick a more uncontroversial example) Stephen Hawking?


Reginald Selkirk February 13, 2010 at 10:36 am

From 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time:

19. Francis Crick: He first coined the term “central dogma” to describe the flow of genetic information in cells as a one-way street – DNA to RNA to protein.

Ack, that is a mischaracterization of the Central Dogma.

Crick once stated that his decision to pursue scientific research as a career was motivated by his atheism. (via The Eighth Day of Creation, Horace Judson)

14 Ayn Rand: “… sweeping intellectual masterpiece Atlas Shrugged …

i got a good laugh out of that one.


eric February 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm

lukeprog: Yeah, when I read the list I thought maybe that I should make my own version, with smarter people on there.

But can you eliminate Rand and add more women at the same time? Three out of fifty is a pretty fucking depressing representation.
Apparently only men are dumb enough to spend all their time worrying about whether an omnipotent father figure built the universe or not.


Scott February 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm


Simone de Beauvoir. She should absolutely be on the list.
She’s a woman, she’s an atheist, she’s influential, and she’s damn attractive (ha!).

NB: I realized this list is roughly chronological – the numbers aren’t a ranking, but they’re counting the members.


Reginald Selkirk February 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

He’s got a huge hole in his list between 300 BCE and the 19th century.

No Baron d’Holbach? No Hypatia? No Lucretius? No Madalyn Murray O’Hair? No Pope Alexander VI? No Greg Graffin? No Ophelia Benson? No Greta Christina? No Susan Jacoby? No Carvaka? No LaPlace? No Charles Darwin?


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