Friday, May 16, 2014

$100 Finder's Fee: Can you name a full-time activist for reason?

I am offering a small finder's fee to the first person who can identify a specialized activist, in the USA, working full-time to support reason as a specialized subject. Identify means providing the activist's name and a link to him. Support means explicit, sustained advocacy as a career path. Reason means the human faculty that integrates sense-perceptions into concepts, creates principles, forms generalizations, develops theories, and so forth—all following logic as the art of noncontradictory identification of the facts of reality. 

(An example of a specialized activist is Alex Epstein of Center for Industrial Progress. For the distinction between specialized and general activism:

The specialized activist for reason would be taking steps such as:
  • Collecting a flood of examples of the use of reason, from history and today.
  • Showcasing the tools of reason: induction, deduction, reduction, analysis, and so forth.
  • Defining reason at various lengths, for a variety of audiences.
  • Showing the benefits of reason in our world today.
  • Contrasting reason with mysticism—examples of it, its nature, its many forms, and its consequences in history and in life today.
The specialized activist for reason would engage in various tasks such as:
  • Writing weblog posts.
  • Producing videotapes or podcasts.
  • Welcoming interviews on radio and television.
  • Engaging debaters on university campuses and elsewhere.
  • Writing magazine articles.
  • Lecturing on reason in general or specific facets of reason and mysticism.
  • Conducting seminars.
  • Teaching classes.
  • Writing books.
If you know of such a person (or organization), please comment below or email me at

Burgess Laughlin
Author of The Power and the Glory: They Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith, described at

P. S. — If you are aware of no such person but you think there should be a full-time activist for reason and you would be willing to support him, please tell me. Perhaps we can collaborate, if not immediately, then perhaps in the future. My resources are small, but I am prepared to donate $2000/year to that person to support his work. 

In the movement that supports a philosophy of reason, the time has come for someone to speak for reason: full-time, radically, and at length.


  1. Thank you for the suggestion. I have known of Randi for decades. I have thought of him only as an investigator who exposes pseudo-scientific or openly supernaturalist claims. I will investigate him to see if he is indeed an advocate of reason as outlined in the article. I am particularly interested in reading his discussions of the nature of reason—and contrasting it to mysticism.

    If he is truly an advocate of reason, and not only a "debunker" or exposer of frauds, then I owe you $100.

  2. I have perused the Wikipedia account of Randi's life. His life has been a fascinating one, a life focused on his mission: to investigate claims that go beyond scientific evidence, and then to expose the fraud.

    I see nothing in the account on Wikipedia to suggest that Randi is an activist specializing in supporting, advocating, and defending reason as a philosophical concept.

    If anyone knows of writings by Randi that explain reason, in its many facets (such as sense-perception, concept formation, induction, and so forth), please let me know. Otherwise, I see nothing to justify any further investigation.

    Even then, a single or a few essays are not evidence that an individual is focused primarily on supporting reason.

  3. Respectfully, I have reviewed the terms of your offer, and I feel I have already met them. All of the information necessary to validate Randi as an activist for reason is easily and publicly available. He explains the philosophical basis for his activism in many of his writings and videos.

    1. Robert, are you suggesting that I need to trudge through Randi's vast body of work in order to find proof of your assertion?

      Please be specific. Which writings state his career purpose as promoting reason? Which writings of his state his explanation the nature of reason and the nature of its opposite, mysticism? Where does he describe the role of reason in a philosophy of reason?

      I need something more than your "feeling." I need some proof, at least enough to justify investing hundreds of hours of my life into an investigation.

      If you will specify the titles of three of his books or essays that best provide proof that he is a specialized activist for reason and against mysticism (not merely flim-flam), then I will purchase them and study them.

      I hope you are right. But I am puzzled why a supposedly specialized activist for reason would have no writings with appropriate titles—such as "Reason: Its nature and its implications for today's culture" or "Reason versus mysticism" or "Reason: Its history of growth and development."

    2. Robert, if you will send me a mailing address, I will send you a check for $100. You have not established Randi as a specialized activist focused primarily for reason, but you have given me a useful example of someone who might be mistaken for being a specialist for reason, a simulacrum, so to speak. That will help me distinguish the meaning of "specialized activist."

      You can send the US postal mailing address to the email address I gave in the original post:

      I hope that you still will send the titles I requested, that is, the titles of the writings you think best demonstrate Randi's focus on reason—its nature, its history, its role, and so forth. Until I have the titles, I cannot justify starting an investigation.

  4. I received the following comment in private from someone who, for a reason unknown to me, wants anonymity:

    "I would suggest Andrew Bernstein as a potential candidate. While primarily an advocate of Capitalism, one of the philosophic roots required to defend capitalism is a basic grasp of reason. He has written several books, engaged in one fairly prominent debate on Christianity, and is a lecturer on the college circuit.

    Respectfully, Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx
    (Please I still choose to remain anonymous)

    1. X, thank you for the suggestion. I met Dr. Bernstein perhaps 25 or 30 years ago, at an Objectivist conference. I greatly admire his passion and his productivity. He is superbly qualified to be a specialized, full-time activist for reason as I outlined in my post on this weblog.

      He is not, however, such an activist. As you said yourself, he is primarily an activist for capitalism. One cannot be primarily an activist for capitalism and at the same time primarily an activist for reason, which is the epistemological foundation of capitalism.

      Andy has, however, made numerous comments in his writings about the importance of reason, for example, my memory tells me, he has made comments in such narrow, yet illuminating, works as his critique of Christian scholar Rodney Stark's rewriting of history in the _Victory of Reason_.

      In summary, I would agree that Andy approaches being a specialized, long-time, activist for reason in our culture today. But he is not the specialist I described in my post.

      (Dr. Onkar Ghate is also superbly qualified, but does not _specialize_ in promoting reason.)

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