Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

In Defense of Designer Babies

An American lesbian couple (Jennifer Cramblett and Amanda Zinkon) had a baby via a sperm bank, but are now suing because the sperm bank accidentally gave them the wrong sperm. How do they know? Their baby, Payton (no, not that Payton), turned out to be mixed race. Cramblett and Zinkon claim that they need compensation for the financial and social of doing right by a mixed race child in a society that remains to some degree implicitly racist (e.g. relocating to a more racially diverse and accepting area). The Guardian’s Julie Bindel claims that their lawsuit “smacks of racism” and eugenics. What’s really going on here?

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3 Reasons We Should Stop Watching TV News

Over the past several months, I’ve been paying increasing attention to an interesting phenomenon–voter tunnel vision. You may have noticed in recent months that mainstream media–particularly cable news networks–have devoted a remarkable amount of air time to a very narrow list of political issues:

  1. Russia/Ukraine Conflict
  2. Israel/Palestine Conflict
  3. Michael Brown Shooting/Ferguson Protests
  4. ISIS
  5. Ebola

Now, these issues are, to varying degrees, important. But why do they get so much coverage compared with more severe long-term problems like heart disease, malaria, poverty, climate change, education, and so on? Essentially, it’s because TV is a terrible medium for news, and I can show you why.

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What Kind of God Do Monotheists Believe In?

Yesterday, I did some writing about the conflict between secular moral theory and theistic religious moral theory. Today, this has me thinking in greater theoretical detail about the monotheistic position specifically and what it might entail. In the course of this thinking, I have run into something of a dilemma.

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Bill Maher and Ben Affleck are Both Wrong about Islam

In recent days, there’s been much discussion of an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher in which Maher (the host) and noted atheist Sam Harris got into a lively discussion with actor Ben Affleck over whether or not Islam is fundamentally less compatible with liberal values than Christianity, Judaism, or other religions. While I see many people taking sides, I found none of the arguments made particularly persuasive. I was instead struck by how thoroughly all three men seemed to miss the point.

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Why Congress Will Not Declare War on ISIS

In recent days, a lot of commentators have been deeply upset by the fact that Barack Obama has been ordering military strikes against ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) without congressional authorization, and that congress has not held a vote on the issue. Indeed, even house speaker John Boehner does not think the administration legally requires further authorization. The US constitution says that:

The Congress shall have Power To… declare War

So what’s going on here?

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