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Rational Inquiry -Volume 7 Number 1

From the New Vice-President

By Wes Bertrand

Greetings fellow rational thinkers! My name is Wes Bertrand and I am taking on the position of Vice President for in 2002. My academic background is in counseling psychology, but I've studied quite a bit of the philosophy of science in my spare time. I look forward to a great year of stimulating lectures and important discourse.

Speaking of discourse, I emailed a friend the other day about where the United States should go from here in its "War on Terrorism." Though SDARI is not quite a venue for political debate, I do believe that no domain should be excluded from rational inquiry—especially where outlandish claims are involved. I'm sure many members would agree. The trouble sometimes is how to peel away the passionate emotions from the rational arguments. Philosophers, after all, have pondered this issue since at least the time of the ancient Greeks.

In addition to all the ways our thinking can go haywire (I'm thinking of a good book by Stuart Sutherland called Irrationality: Why We Don't Think Straight! Rutgers UP, 1994), our feelings have the potential to lead us even more astray from rationality. This bears on perhaps the most important factor in whether we reach sound conclusions about anything open to investigation (or supposedly not open): Whether we are emotionally available to look at an issue from reason-based perspective.

I hope in the coming months logic will be our guide in all issues "foreign and domestic." (Unfortunately, logic is often the first casualty in political agendas; not dissimilarly religious-oriented agendas too.) In the spirit of my book The Psychology of Liberty (Xlibris, 2000), we as a species need to understand our faculties of reason and emotion equally well—before we go charging off in all directions. A good knowledge of self is a must. With that, I wish you a great year of free (and emotionally aware) thinking! As to my stance on the War, you can soon check it out on my web site:

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