I find myself puzzled, however, by the following two sentences:
If we look for what is common to the Humanists over the centuries we find two things: a body of accepted authors and a method of carrying on study and debate. The two go together with the belief that the best guides to the good life are Reason and Nature.
I can see how study and debate link up to "Nature," but I'm having a hard time understanding the idea that "Reason" is linked to a body of accepted authors, and especially since it to an extent contradicts the goal of understanding Nature.
The group thought inherent in the idea of "Accepted authors" seems limiting. True, physics broke new ground with Max Planck, Einstein, and others, but that seems to be on account of a new understanding that yielded tremendous value, and a much closer approximation to reality. Also, we know that Einstein's "special relativity" yields contradictory results to "quantum mechanics," but that doesn't mean we reject one or the other in the sciences. Science yields that it does not have enough understanding at present to unify these two fields.
The Humanities, on the other hand, seem to be much more lemming like. With very few exceptions, I do not like modern day classical music. It tortures my ears. Yet, it seems that's what is now necessary because of the "Accepted Authors." The same goes for art. Purple architecture, etc. The modern day "Political Correctness" grates on me with its inconsistent axioms. And it seems even the sciences are falling into this trap. AGW has a set of "Authors," they have not been willing even when pressed by the Freedom of Information Act to divulge their data and methods, which means the results can not be replicated (except by a small group of the initiate), and I have severe reservations about String Theory, which seems to be everything at once, or nothing at all (no predictive value).
Accepted authors is not consistent with Reason. Or perhaps this is merely a sign of the degeneration of our times, and a new, wrong way of "Who gets to select the Authors."