Local customs

Dec 10th, 2010 4:46 pm | By

I’m reading Charles Freeman’s AD 381.

This sounded familiar already; it’s only page 2.

Theodosius was not himself a fanatical Christian, and despite the harshness of the language in which his decrees were expressed, he showed some restraint and flexibility in the way he applied them. In a vast and administratively unwieldy empire, any law lost its impact as it filtered down into the provinces, and some may never have been systematically enforced. However, this worked both ways – a law might be ignored, or it might be imposed with brutality by a local enthusiast.

Ahhh yes – that does sound familiar. It sounds exactly like Pakistan. It sounds exactly like a lot of places. There is never any … Read the rest

Discussing science and morality *

Dec 10th, 2010 | Filed by

Simon Blackburn, Sam Harris,  Steven Pinker, Patricia Churchland, Peter Singer, Laurence Krauss.… Read the rest

US: most scientists are Democrats *

Dec 10th, 2010 | Filed by

Well no kidding. Sarah Palin anyone? John Shimkus? James Inhofe?… Read the rest

Lehrer on Lehrer on the decline effect *

Dec 10th, 2010 | Filed by

In poll after poll, Americans have dismissed two of the most robust theories of modern science: evolution by natural selection and climate change.… Read the rest

Coyne on Lehrer on the “decline effect” *

Dec 10th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s a mistake to imply that all scientific truth is simply a choice among explanations that aren’t very well supported.… Read the rest

BBC on Ashtiani “confession” *

Dec 10th, 2010 | Filed by

And the difficulty of getting at the truth about what is happening to her and her son and her lawyer.… Read the rest

Reality tv in Iran

Dec 9th, 2010 5:54 pm | By

So those bastards in Iran were having a little joke. Ashtiani isn’t free at all.

Contrary to a vast publicity campaign by Western media that confessed murderer Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been released, a team of broadcast production team with the Iran-based Press TV has arranged with Iran’s judicial authorities to follow Ashtiani to her house to produce a visual recount of the crime at the murder scene.

Well that’s the right way to determine guilt: take a tv crew to someone’s house and force her to agree with you that she’s guilty guilty guilty.

 Bastards bastards bastards.… Read the rest

Double-plus ungood

Dec 9th, 2010 5:50 pm | By

In much less good news, our friend and fellow-troublemaker Josh Slocum had a very serious heart attack a couple of days ago. He’s fine now, he assures us, but it was Bad and Scary and Horrible, and he’s only a youngster. So send him your affection and raillery and friendly insults and other helpful things.… Read the rest

Press TV boasts of Ashtiani show *

Dec 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Read and feel sick.… Read the rest

Good news for a change

Dec 9th, 2010 12:39 pm | By

Sakineh Ashtiani is free.

Her son is free, her lawyer is free, two German journalists who were arrested Monday for trying to interview her are free.

Her release is a triumph for an intensive international campaign launched by her son Sajad Ghaderzadeh…Ecstatic campaigners hailed the news. “This is the happiest day in my life,” said Mina Ahadi of the International Committee against Stoning (Icas).

So maybe international pressure does work.… Read the rest

Guardian reports Ashtiani is free *

Dec 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Ecstatic campaigners hailed the news. “This is the happiest day in my life,” said Mina Ahadi of the International Committee against Stoning.… Read the rest

Ashtiani and her lawyer are free *

Dec 9th, 2010 | Filed by

We have got news from Iran that they are free,” Mina Ahadi, spokeswoman for the Anti-Stoning Committee, told AFP.… Read the rest

Zimmer posts full responses to arsenic article *

Dec 9th, 2010 | Filed by

What 13 scientists told him.… Read the rest

Martin Robbins on NASA’s arsenic debacle *

Dec 9th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s a story of everything that’s wrong about the relationship between science, peer review, publishing, and the media.… Read the rest

Aasia Bibi’s family is on the run *

Dec 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Murderous thugs are panting to kill her and her husband and 5 children.… Read the rest

Rushdie gets Lifetime Achievemen Award from PEN *

Dec 8th, 2010 | Filed by

So there ha.… Read the rest

Further reading

Dec 8th, 2010 1:12 pm | By

The reaction to the NASA-arsenic based life story makes a nice study guide to epistemology and how scientists think and how various distorting influences (like media priorities and funding needs) can bollix things up. PZ set us straight last week almost before the ink was dry, Rosie Redfield wrote a scathing analysis on Saturday, Carl Zimmer talked to a dozen experts on Monday.

Almost unanimously, they think the NASA scientists have failed to make their case. “It would be really cool if such a bug existed,” said San Diego State University’s Forest Rohwer, a microbiologist who looks for new species of bacteria and viruses in coral reefs. But, he added, “none of the arguments are very convincing on their

Read the rest

More on the dubious arsenic bacterium *

Dec 8th, 2010 | Filed by

And on what to do when people ask probing questions. Don’t miss the comments.… Read the rest

“This Paper Should Not Have Been Published” *

Dec 8th, 2010 | Filed by

Carl Zimmer reports that scientists see fatal flaws in the NASA study of arsenic-based life.… Read the rest

Clay Shirky on Wikileaks *

Dec 8th, 2010 | Filed by

Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to, and vice versa.… Read the rest