This Week in Humanism 2018–04–29

“OXFORDHIRE-BASED Humanist Funeral Celebrant Ian Willox has been part of a pilot project in the county to create a national online archive of funeral tributes.

Run by Humanists UK the pilot has been so successful that Humanists UK is launching the service nationwide.

Mr Willox, who lives near Deddington, in North Oxfordshire, said he was pleased the project was being extended.

He added: “The archive has proved very popular with families — partly as a way of preserving the memory of a loved one and partly as a way of weaving those memories into our social history.””


Which classmate would you most like to have next to you in” an emergency?” That’s a question Tulane University School of Medicine students consider when nominating their peers for the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). This year, 28 third-year Tulane medical students have been selected to become members of this signature program.

The Gold Humanism Honor Society was created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to recognize medical students, residents and physicians who demonstrate compassionate care and serve as models, mentors and leaders in medicine. The honor society places emphasis on integrity, excellence, altruism, respect and empathy.

Gold Humanism Honor Society nominee James McAllister says it’s an honor to be chosen by his Tulane classmates for the distinction. McAllister worked for the federal government for years before coming to Tulane School of Medicine, and has applied many of the skills he learned then to his training now.”


“ Humanists UK has been given leave to intervene in the Court of Appeal hearing of its member Noel Conway, who has been fighting for the right to an assisted death. Noel, who has motor neurone disease, lost his case at the High Court in October, and is now seeking to have that decision overturned. Humanists UK is supporting Noel’s challenge.
Humanists UK has worked with humanist philosophers Simon Blackburn and John Harris to craft its appeal. Both have put in witness statements examining the underlying ethics of the situation, reflecting Humanists UK’s unique interdisciplinary expertise at the intersection of medical ethics, moral philosophy, and the law. Humanists UK adopted a similar approach in the Supreme Court cases Nicklinson (also concerned with assisted dying) and NIHRC (about abortion in Northern Ireland). Humanists UK’s Chief Executive Andrew Copson also submitted evidence on the views of people with motor neurone disease on assisted dying.”


“Take Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s creation, built under the banner of “move fast and break things,” certainly changed the world. But the creation of Facebook has also impacted democracy, privacy, communication, and even the nature of truth, in unforeseen ways; Facebook has since disavowed that motto (and Zuckerberg was harangued for his company’s association with it while testifying before congress).

Too often, in the technology industry, disruption is valued in its own right, without a thought that there may be consequences outside the purview of tech industry leaders — let alone teenage college students, who have historically been many of the driving forces between world-changing tech.”


“Undiagnosed by the mainstream media and much of the academic community, a major intellectual renewal is underway across the left. It is energetic and tech-savvy, building platforms such as Novara Media. It maintains a radical, rich heritage within the European left, embraces bold ideas, and is well-organised and networked.

It is fast becoming a new political movement; best captured in influential articles and books discussing “accelerationism”, “postcapitalism” and even “fully automated luxury communism”. It has entered green and radical thinking, and has subtly influenced many political commentators — especially when discussing Universal Basic Income.

Yet there has been little critical engagement with this new thinking in terms of its intellectual origins and assumptions.”


A case for the promotion of humanist values in Jos cannot be overemphasized because, for over a decade, the value of humanity in this central Nigerian city and its neighbourhoods has been under vicious assault. This assault has scared the social conscience and greatly undermined the idea of a common humanity. A case for a re-discovery or better a restoration of humanity has become so compelling. Unfortunately, religious extremists and ethnic bigots, blinded by their dark and destructive visions have been on the offensive. They have unleashed havoc and mayhem in Jos, turning what used to be a peaceful and tolerant region into a killing field.

These fanatics, with very little regard for human life and the human being, have repeatedly swept through the towns and villages maiming and destroying lives and property. Crass inhumanity has manifested in the various jihadist attacks that Boko Haram militants launched in the city as well as in so many clashes that have taken place between real and imagined herdsmen and farmers in the area. However, this dark and destructive trend cannot be allowed to continue. The gradual undoing –erosion- of humanity in this area must be resisted.

Hence a humanist case for peace and tolerance has become an imperative for the future of Jos, and for development and progress in the region. Why is a humanist case necessary?”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights.