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Đóńńęŕ˙ âĺđńč˙
Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
"Zdraviy Smysl" ("Common Sense") Magazine Elected Articles
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Issue 44

EDITOR’S CORNER

  • Valery Kuvakin, Science as a System Within the System of Society. “Given the current Russian situation, it seems especially obvious that there is no automatism in the advancement of science, nor can there be effective centralized ‘science management’. But times are changing…”

SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

  • Science and Research Popularization Mechanisms. Round Table Meeting arranged by the Open Economy Foundation and hosted by the RF Ministry of Education and Science on June 15, 2007. The event was attended by some prominent public figures and academic journalists. The participants listened to a welcome address by the Nobel laureate, Academician Vitaly Ginzburg: “At last the government has realized that science requires more attention, and allocated substantial funds for research. But science and technology can develop in a sustainable way only if the society maintains a sufficient level of interest to these areas of activity… We must act positively and decisively …”.
  • Andrei Tikhonov. Where There Is Science, There Is Popularity. In order to build respect for Russian science we should allow the press to visit research institutions, teach scientists to express their ideas, and use modern advertising tools. But the paramount task is to develop science as such.
  • Alexander Sergeyev, Science Popularization Strategies in Russia. “Many scientists tend to believe that the wonderful achievements of science and technology are sufficient to win the public’s interest and respect forever. This is a mistake. Behaviors of the public are determined by the laws of mass psychology…”

RELIGION IN MODERN WORLD

  • In the Palace, Out of Place. Gennady Shevelev, Director of the St. Petersburg RHS branch website, and his RHS colleague Mikhail Bogoslovsky were attending the International Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue in Europe (June 1, 2007) as IHEU representatives. “It was almost unbelievable: RHS members had a chance to deliver the message of Secular Humanists directly to the ears of Russian officials, even thought they have been consistently turning their back on us…”
  • Mikhail Bogoslovsky, Gennady Shevelev. The View of Secular Humanists. Press Release by IHEU and RHS representatives at the International Conference on Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue. “It is now obvious that the only way to repeal attacks on free thought is through joint effort of scientists, sensible intellectuals, and all citizens of Russia, Europe and the world who are free from religious dogmatism.”
  • Open letter from a group of Russian scientists to Andrei Fursenko, RF Minister of Education and Science. The Only Alternative to Secular Academic Education is Ignorance! “…The question is, who will determine the quality of modern knowledge and the level of education – the retrogrades whose clock always runs behind, who see no truth beyond religious myth; or those who are aware of the complexities inherent in the operation, and perception, of the world of nature, society and humans?..”

THE PEDAGOGY OF HUMANISM

  • Putting the Humanist Idea Into Physical Education Law. Natalia Krasilnikova, coach and athletics teacher, drafted amendments the current law. She points to the disregard of humanist aspects in nation’s youth physical education as one of the main reasons for violent behavior in modern Russia. “Promotion of culture-oriented sports (after all, we are talking of physical culture!) is less successful than that of martial arts”.
  • Vyacheslav Meider. Teacher’s Personality in Educational Sphere. “Students are drawn to individuals of broad and independent mind, and of moral courage. The power of example is well known in Pedagogy… Using Konstantin Ushinsky’s metaphor, personal example is ‘a life-giving ray of sunlight for a young soul, and there can be no substitute for it’”.
  • Moisei Kagan. Concerns About the Future of Our Schools (on the interplay of schooling, politics and religion). "I call upon all sober-minded Russians, all people with genuine cultural background, all who adhere to the principles of European civilization – separation of education from religion and politics, while merging education with moral development – to raise their voices and protect this historical achievement…"

HUMANISM AND ECOLOGY

  • Boris Rodoman, Humanism, Ecology, and Market. “Guided by naive common sense, I would offer the following question for discussion: to what extent is market economy – especially its Russian version – compatible with the key principles of Humanism and environmental safety? <…> For the humankind, market is as important an achievement as fire, but fire is only good if kept within the appropriate appliance, such as furnace, stove or chimney. Having escaped from its enclosure it turns into a destructive blaze.”

AGAINST CHARLATANISM

  • Natalia Kartashova, Repeating the Past: Dmitry Mendeleev and Spiritism. Russia seems to be covered by a wave of obscurantism. “Again and again, science has to prove the proven, again and again it has to disprove what has been disproved before by reason and research”… A essay on the great scientist’s fight against pseudoscience.

MAN IN THE UNIVERSE

  • Givi Givishvili, “Man as a Measure…” and the Super Strong Anthropic Principle. “Perhaps it is only in modern times that people start to grasp the true meaning of Protagoras’s dictum, because it is only now that the key role of humans in Nature – to serve as her self-cognition instrument – is becoming clearer. This role is determined by the Strong Anthropic Principle, which states: ‘The processes of non-stationary universes’ birth and destruction are governed by humans’”.

SECULAR WORLDVIEW: IN SEARCH OF MEANING

  • Back to Reason. Thoughts About Science, Religion, and Modern Culture, by Pavel Klevtsov. The author “himself traveled the typical route of a modern intellectual – being seriously involved with religion, attempting a revision of all values of the neo-European culture, “nihilistic” criticism of “Scientism,” etc.. The outcome, both unexpected and quite predictable with a hindsight, was growing out of religious worldview…”

WHAT IS HUMANISM?

  • Humanism in Interpersonal Relations, by Larisa Titova. “Interpersonal communication can encompass some special, or transcendental (to use a provisional term) humanity, i.e., one which is not subject to rationalization and exhaustive description …”

HUMANIST DICTIONARY

  • Alexander Kruglov, Justice of Communist and Christian Style. “It was academician Ivan Pavlov who called Communists (to whim he felt no compassion) ‘continuators of the cause of Jesus’ ”… Similarities and differences between the two worldviews.

EVOLUTIONISM: FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE

  • Render Unto God and Caesar Their Own, by Georgy Drizlikh. As they negate evolution, orthodox believers are doing a disservice to religion itself.

ANTHOLOGY OF FREE-THINKING

  • Immanuel Kant. Selected Thoughts on Religion. “…Whatever, over and above good life-conduct, man fancies that he can do to become well-pleasing to God is mere religious illusion and pseudo-service of God”.

LESSONS FOR TOMORROW

  • “The Ocean of Silence ďî ęŕďëĺ Filled with Cry for Help” . Alexander Loktev’s essay about Boris Lesnyak, a prominent Russian literary man, aphorist and former political prisoner. It is to him and his wife, Nina Savoyeva, that another political prisoner, the great Russian writer Varlaam Shalamov whose 100th birth anniversary is celebrated this year, owns his life.
  • Boris Lesnyak, Selected Aphorisms. “I think people learned washing hands of things before they learned hand washing…”

BOOK REVIEW

  • Fanaticism as Gloom of the Soul, Musa Kurbanov’s review of ‘Phenomenon of Religious Fanaticism‘ by Mukhtar Yakhyaev. “The problem of religious fanaticism is especially important in modern times, because it underlies such global threat as international terrorism,” Dagestan State University experts believe.

OPINIONS, COMMENTS & READERS’ LETTERS

  • Grigory Goldshtadt, On God’s Place in Universe: “God and the laws of Universe are the same.”
  • Igor Vostrikov, To the Issue of Legalized Grace. “What I find most important is that Humanism should not remain a casual observer…”
  • Read, Grasp, and Spread the Message! Eduard Koleinikov on the text of the Russian hymn, in which many stylistic and (most importantly) legal inconsistencies are found. The epithet “God-guarded” is definitely non-constitutional.
  • A. Borisov, Points of Faith – or Matters of Conscience? “I was pleased to see, for the first time in years, an atheistic magazine (ZS). For today, just like in the Dark Ages, we are besieged by pseudoscience and religion…”

LITERARY PAGES

  • Alexander Yarzhombek. Fantasies in Metaphysics. Poetry
  • Leonid Salyamon. “Insomnia”. Extracts from the book
  • Vadim Agol, Zoological Sketch-book. Ironic verses

APHORISTS’ CLUB

  • “There was an announcement at school today that Thou Existeth…” Excerpts from Kids Writing to God by Mikhail Dymov.