Archive for February 2006

That’s Not What He Said

Feb 28th, 2006 6:50 pm | By

Theists have a nasty tendency to tell whoppers about atheists. There’s the standing canard that atheists are necessarily immoral; and then there’s the great sea of misquotation, misrecollection, misrepresentation. Theists make a lot of these little careless errors. Like one in this review of Dennett’s new book. (It’s actually a rather interesting and witty review, so the careless error stands out.)

One savors the irony that these lines come from the same man who insisted in an op-ed article for the New York Times two years ago that society should start calling atheists “the Brights” because they’re so much smarter than theists. Right.

The hell he did. Not even close. I was sure of that even without reading it, but … Read the rest

Meera Nanda on Counter-Enightenment in India *

Feb 28th, 2006 | Filed by

Modern science-educated Indians treat the teachings of gurus, yogis and swamis as vaguely ‘scientific.’… Read the rest

Shalom Lappin on the Ken Livingstone Affair *

Feb 28th, 2006 | Filed by

Part of a cynical campaign of divisive ethnic politics that he has been pursuing for electoral advantage.… Read the rest

The Enlightenment Tamed Christianity *

Feb 28th, 2006 | Filed by

In the institutions of liberal culture, religious statements are gaining the power of conformity.… Read the rest

High Rate of Belief in ‘Paranormal’ in US *

Feb 28th, 2006 | Filed by

Especially haunted houses.… Read the rest

David Irving, Richard Evans on Today [audio] *

Feb 28th, 2006 | Filed by

Evans considers law banning Holocaust denial no longer really necessary.… Read the rest

Irving Asks a Question *

Feb 28th, 2006 | Filed by

‘If there was an extermination programme to kill all the Jews, how come so many survived?’… Read the rest

Boxes Without Doors

Feb 27th, 2006 6:15 pm | By

More on Sen on multiculturalism. It’s a terrific article; don’t miss it.

Being born in a particular social background is not in itself an exercise of cultural liberty, since it is not an act of choice. In contrast, the decision to stay firmly within the traditional mode would be an exercise of freedom, if the choice were made after considering other altenatives. In the same way, a decision to move away – by a little or a lot – from the standard behavior pattern, arrived at after reflection and reasoning, would also qualify as such an exercise. Indeed, cultural freedom can frequently clash with cultural conservatism, and if multiculturalism is defended in the name of cultural freedom, then it

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Secluded Boxes

Feb 27th, 2006 5:11 pm | By

Amartya Sen on multiculturalism. Right at the beginning – in the second paragraph – he asks the questions that seem so obviously necessary to ask, but that seem completely ignored in the way that people generally talk (or prate, or babble, or rave) about multiculturalism. As Sen remarks, ‘There is no way of escaping these rather foundational questions if multiculturalism is to be fairly assessed.’ Just so, which is why it so seldom is fairly assessed, why it is instead simply assumed to be a good even without precise specification of what it means.

One of the central issues concerns how human beings are seen. Should they be categorized in terms of inherited traditions, particularly the inherited religion, of

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Students Back Timetable Change for Prayer *

Feb 27th, 2006 | Filed by

Motion calls for ‘the right to education without discrimination against religious needs.’… Read the rest

Thousands March Against Hate Crime in Paris *

Feb 27th, 2006 | Filed by

Smaller marches took place in Lyon and Bordeaux in aftermath of torture-murder of Ilam Halimi.… Read the rest

Geoffrey Wheatcroft on AJP Taylor *

Feb 27th, 2006 | Filed by

‘He didn’t deny the barbarous nature of Stalin’s regime: he accepted and almost relished it.’… Read the rest

Bunting Mocks Phrase ‘the Muslim Community’ *

Feb 27th, 2006 | Filed by

Then proceeds to use it herself; frets about ‘Islamophobia’.… Read the rest

Ian Buruma on Sexual Frustration and Violence *

Feb 27th, 2006 | Filed by

Sexual frustration and bitter misogyny may be factors in mass murder.… Read the rest

Trevor Phillips on Free Speech and Sharia *

Feb 27th, 2006 | Filed by

‘We have one set of laws. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else.’… Read the rest

‘Repressed Memory’ Challenge

Feb 27th, 2006 | By Harrison G. Pope, Jr. and James I. Hudson

$1000 reward to anyone who can produce a published case of “repressed memory” (in fiction or non-fiction) prior to 1800

Our research suggests that the concept of “repressed memory” or “dissociative amnesia” might be simply a romantic notion dating from the 1800s, rather than a scientifically valid phenomenon. To test this hypothesis, we are offering a reward of $1000 to the first person who can find a description of “repressed memory” in any written work, either nonfiction or fiction (novels, poems, dramas, epics, the Bible, essays, medical treatises, or any other sources), in English or in any work that has been translated into English, prior to 1800. We would argue that if “repressed memory” were a genuine natural phenomenon that … Read the rest

The Briar Patch

Feb 26th, 2006 6:56 pm | By

This is a surprising news item.

Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett are two of the most prominent philosophers writing about issues related to evolution. It seems they have been engaging in a bit of e-mail correspondence on the side. How do I know this? Because Ruse inexplicably sent the entire correspondence to William Dembski. I say this is inexplicable because there is no indication that Dennett consented to have his private e-mails made public. For Ruse to make public e-mails that were intended as part of a private correpsondence is an incredible breach of professional ethics.

Especially since, as you discover if you look at the correspondence, it was Ruse who initiated it. So – he asked Dennett … Read the rest

Statements Aspiring to the Status of Facts

Feb 26th, 2006 5:56 pm | By

Ah. Someone finally points it out.

The notion of free speech, at its best, speaks to freedom of conscience – the idea that there’s no opinion or worldview whose expression should be proscribed. But it is ever more subject to be hijacked by the muddy notion that it protects all statements aspiring to the status of fact – be they truthfully believed or cynically falsified. Should we, necessarily, protect the statement “nobody died at Belsen”, any more than we regard as free speech a false claim in an advertisement for a vitamin supplement? I’m not sure.

Precisely. Neither am I. Furthermore, I am pretty sure that it’s not helpful to ignore that aspect of the issue when discussing the … Read the rest

The Usual

Feb 26th, 2006 5:34 pm | By

Here it is again.

A virulently anti-Semitic film about the Iraq war has provoked a storm of protest in Germany after it sold out to cheering audiences from the country’s 2.5 million-strong Turkish community.

The Turkish community – as if they all live together in a rather large and crowded village somewhere. How much does this insistence on ‘the ___ community’ foster audiences that cheer anti-Semitic movies, one wonders. Talk of ‘the community’ and celebration of Hate Week are cheek by jowl.

At a packed cinema in a largely Turkish immigrant district of Berlin last week, Valley of the Wolves was being watched almost exclusively by young Turkish men.

So – yet again, as with the riots in the … Read the rest

Was Banaz Killed for ‘Honour’? *

Feb 26th, 2006 | Filed by

Last seen in Mitcham; disappearance may be in connection with a failed arranged marriage.… Read the rest