Quote of the moment: Jefferson, on reason in a republic

August 7, 2012

Bust of Jefferson in the Great Hall, Library of Congress (Jefferson Building) - photo by Carol Highsmith

Bust of Jefferson in the Great Hall, Library of Congress (Jefferson Building) – photo by Carol Highsmith. The plaster bust of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) is a copy of a work by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828).

In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to David Harding, from Monticello, April 20, 1824; found in The Quotable Jefferson, collected and edited by John P. Kaminski, Princeton University Press 2006, p. 162.

I worry that perhaps we have as a people, abandoned the ideal of being ruled by reason and persuasion.

What’s your mileage?

Great Hall of the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building - Carol Highsmith photo

Great Hall of the Library of Congress viewed from the second floor, Thomas Jefferson Building – Carol Highsmith photo. Note bust of Jefferson, opposite


How do we know what we know?

December 10, 2007

Especially in science — how do we know what we know?

A charitable trust in Britain called Sense About Science makes a start on explaining peer review, the process scientists use in science journals to referee what is accurate and what is not.

The site looks legitimate, though I’m no great judge of British scientists (see the board of trustees and advisors).

The site has several sets of debunking material, debunking things like “alternative” treatments for malaria, plus an 8-page pamphlet on how peer review works.

See especially these publications (available in downloadable .pdf):

The booklets are available free, but I’ll wager they were intended for British consumption — I’m not sure they’d mail them across the Atlantic.

It’s worth a look. See any problems with using that pamphlet in a classroom? I am very interested if you find a problem with any of the materials there.


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