Archive for August 2009

First, distinguish between catatonia and rumination

Aug 31st, 2009 6:20 pm | By

Jerry Coyne took a look at a hypothesis that depression is an evolutionary adaptation.

in two new papers by Andrews and Thompson. In short, their “analytical rumination hypothesis” (ARH) proposes that the “malady” we call depression is actually an adaptive behavior built into our ancestors by natural selection. When facing difficult social problems, selection is said to have promoted behaviors that make individuals withdraw from life, ceasing to engage in formerly pleasurable activities like socializing, eating, and sex. This is all in the service of rumination: freed from other activities and commitments, the depressed individual is said to analyze the problems that led to depression in the first place, eventually solving them and re-entering society. This is “adaptive” because individuals

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Dawkins Caused the Sedalia T-shirt Problem! *

Aug 31st, 2009 | Filed by

He is an atheist. He defends evolution. Ergo we must freak out over a T-shirt to fight this atheist assault on our schools.… Read the rest

Saudi Lawyer Demands Danish Apology *

Aug 31st, 2009 | Filed by

Wants a public apology from several newspapers that published a Motoon in 2008.… Read the rest

Paul Krugman v Niall Ferguson *

Aug 31st, 2009 | Filed by

Started as an argument about bond prices, became a row about racism and the fate of the global economy.… Read the rest

Natural Selection in Action: Deer Mice Go Sandy *

Aug 31st, 2009 | Filed by

Brown mice show, sandy mice fade into background; brown mice die off, sandy mice flourish.… Read the rest

‘Honour’ Killing is Terrorism *

Aug 31st, 2009 | Filed by

The point is to terrorize all women.… Read the rest

The solar system

Aug 30th, 2009 6:00 pm | By

Russell wrote a terrific, exhilarating post about the solar system and Pluto and changing knowledge today. (It looks as if he wrote it tomorrow, but that’s because Metamagician is on Oz time even when Russell isn’t.)

Until very recently, astronomy needed no formal definition of a planet, but this has changed as our knowledge of the Solar System has increased. During the 1990s we discovered a toroidal region of space known as the Kuiper Belt, which contains not only Pluto but many other objects of similar composition and with similarly unusual orbits when compared to those of the eight larger planets. With a better understanding of the Solar System, astronomers came to understand Pluto as the largest of these Kuiper

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No Evolution T-shirts for High School Band *

Aug 30th, 2009 | Filed by

‘The district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned’…and evolution is a religion.… Read the rest

Bishop Warns of ‘Aggressive Secularism’ *

Aug 30th, 2009 | Filed by

Says the established religion must speak out more to preserve the country’s Christian heritage.… Read the rest

What Happens to Pets After the Rapture? *

Aug 30th, 2009 | Filed by

Kind helpful blaspheming atheists will give them a loving home. [link fixed!]… Read the rest

Is Depression an Evolutionary Adaptation? *

Aug 30th, 2009 | Filed by

A pair of evolutionary psychiatrists claim it is, and say that drugs only make things worse.… Read the rest

Bleat bleat

Aug 29th, 2009 12:58 pm | By

This is an irritating piece of crap.

By Allah, we’re an arrogant lot. By “we”, I mean modern western feminists, a group among which I am generally proud to be included. Except when we’re full of ourselves. Western feminism is not the only ideology exquisitely sensible of gender injustice.

It’s not clear what that is supposed to mean – feminism is universalist, not ‘Western,’ and there are of course feminists all over the globe. But if Geraldine Brooks means that feminism itself is not the only (or best) way of talking and thinking about and demanding gender justice – well I just have no idea what she means, because talk of gender justice is feminism, and vice versa, so … Read the rest

The prodigal atheist

Aug 29th, 2009 12:18 pm | By

You may remember that Julian Baggini wrote a piece about the destructiveness of the ‘new’ atheists a few months ago and then another urging them (or us) to turn down the volume at Comment is Free. I disagreed with him at the time in more than one post. He sounds like a new atheist himself in a new piece for C is F.

It’s another C is F ‘belief’ question: how did you find or lose your faith? Julian starts off by saying that people who lose their faith ‘do come to see as absurd beliefs which once seemed clearly true, or deeply mysterious.’

That was certainly true for me. As a teenager, I increasingly had questions about

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Faith Healers Watched Boy Die of Appendicitis *

Aug 29th, 2009 | Filed by

State law has an exemption for ‘a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner’ but no other religion.… Read the rest

Health Warning: Exercise Makes You Fat *

Aug 29th, 2009 | Filed by

The kind of headline you want to see: it’s affirmative, it’s reassuring, it gives you permission to sit on your arse all day. … Read the rest

Goldacre and Science Minister Debate: Tix Free *

Aug 29th, 2009 | Filed by

An important issue, good that a politician is taking it seriously.… Read the rest

Ben Goldacre on Advertising via Journalism *

Aug 29th, 2009 | Filed by

Newspapers are short of cash, and they print PR-reviewed ‘research’ straight from the press release.… Read the rest

‘Western Feminist’ Rebukes ‘Western Feminists’ *

Aug 29th, 2009 | Filed by

We should support religious feminism abroad; otherwise we’re arrogant and full of ourselves.… Read the rest

Normblog on Wisdom from Slavoj Zizek *

Aug 28th, 2009 | Filed by

Or not so much wisdom as sorry claptrap.… Read the rest

Nick Cohen on Turning a Blind Eye to Misogyny *

Aug 28th, 2009 | Filed by

Mainstream opinion does not consider the oppression of women a pressing concern when it is done in the name of culture or religion.… Read the rest