All entries by this author

What kind of respect are we talking about?

Jan 17th, 2007 11:04 am | By

We keep hearing about public objections to or fears about the creation of human-animal embryos for research purposes, but the objections and fears that are cited are, frankly, rather pathetic. They also seem to be very much in the minority. In fact it looks as if the news media are creating and inflating these objections and fears, more than they are reporting on their existence. Oh, well that’s a surprise, that’s never happened before. Surely?

The Indy offers some background, including on the opposition.

There are many pressure groups and religious organisations who have voiced their opposition on the grounds that it is unethical or immoral to mix germ cells from humans and animals to create potentially viable embryos.

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Not Hezbollah now, thank you

Jan 16th, 2007 6:26 pm | By

What’s all this about liberal education then? Does it have to do with the free discussion of ideas and a more cosmopolitan sense of the world maybe, as opposed to whatever green-and-slimy thing Bill O’Reilly thought he saw under the bed one day? Michael Bérubé offers some thoughts:

I’ve given up on trying to come up with formulations about the goal of liberal education that everyone would agree with, but I think cosmopolitanism beats the alternatives…What I’m offering, simply, is the much broader stroke of opposing cosmopolitanism to parochialism…I look at how it was, from Clifford Geertz onwards, that the idea of “local knowledges” took such hold of us. Why would the local be taken as a good in

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Johann Hari on the Question of European Islam *

Jan 16th, 2007 | Filed by

Multiculturalism meant all were encouraged to retain their original culture – no matter how reactionary.… Read the rest

Nancy Sherman on Medical Ethics Then and Now *

Jan 16th, 2007 | Filed by

Psychological mechanisms enable doctors and health care workers to insulate their moral consciences. … Read the rest

Dennett on Overconfidence of ‘Listening to God’ *

Jan 16th, 2007 | Filed by

Inflating declarations of good intent with religious rhetoric about God being on our side is obscene.… Read the rest

Behold, a Conservative Atheist *

Jan 16th, 2007 | Filed by

Who got frustrated with the preening piety of conservative pundits.… Read the rest

Interview with Michael Bérubé *

Jan 16th, 2007 | Filed by

Cosmopolitanism is better than parochialism. Let’s don’t fetishize the local.… Read the rest

Christianity invented atheism

Jan 15th, 2007 6:40 pm | By

I shouldn’t say anything about Giles Fraser, it’s what he wants, he’s just doing it to provoke me, I should ignore him – but there are just one or two or three or four things I want to point out, ever so gently, that are tendentious and incorrect. I know (because Allen has told me) that the Guardian just does this, and no one pays any attention, but – just these few little items, very gently and politely.

His overall point is what one might call the Michael Ruse Move: claiming that atheists are IDers’ or fundamentalists’ best friends and that the only really okay sensible good nice okay people are ‘mainstream’ Christians like – well, rather like Giles … Read the rest

George Scialabba on the Work Cut Out for Us *

Jan 15th, 2007 | Filed by

The real danger to American democracy is the methodical hollowing out of – nearly everything.… Read the rest

Giles Fraser Dons Rosy Specs Again *

Jan 15th, 2007 | Filed by

Many Christians think homosexuality is a gift of God. Admittedly, some don’t think so very loudly.… Read the rest

Exciting Plans to Criminalize More Speech *

Jan 15th, 2007 | Filed by

Must preserve freedom of expression and criminalize concrete incitement, Frattini said opaquely.… Read the rest

A Victory Against Ignorance and Retribution *

Jan 15th, 2007 | Filed by

International Committee Against Execution congratulates all those who have helped save Nazanin’s life.… Read the rest

Nazanin Fatehi Acquitted *

Jan 15th, 2007 | Filed by

Five judges reviewed her case, and all admitted that what Fatehi did was only self defense.… Read the rest

It is my right to blah blah blah

Jan 14th, 2007 1:01 pm | By

Look at this leering little pill. Look at that ineffable smirk. Well naturally, she’s got her picture in the paper, and she’s been given a chance to set up as the new fun thing to be, a Martyr for her Faith. Of course she’s smirking. She must have been beside herself with joy and excitement when a teacher told her to take off the nasty little necklace with torture-execution emblem. She’s probably been waiting to be told that for weeks, wondering what was taking everyone so long. Mind you, she was allowed to wear the same revolting thing as a lapel badge if she wanted to, the pious little creep, but no, that would interfere with the martyrdom-pose, so … Read the rest

‘Devout’ Schoolgirl in New Crucifix Fuss *

Jan 14th, 2007 | Filed by

Tears, shock, right to wear cross, other religions, why, determined, even if, symbol of her faith.… Read the rest

Anyone Can Claim to be a Nutritionist *

Jan 14th, 2007 | Filed by

And hire a PR flack to delete criticism from Wikipedia entry. Naughty.… Read the rest

Nick Cohen on Government Gambling-addiction *

Jan 14th, 2007 | Filed by

Odd that a Labour government promotes an industry where the odds are stacked in management’s favour.… Read the rest

Subject closed – or not

Jan 13th, 2007 1:05 pm | By

Something W K C Guthrie said about Socrates set off a train of thought.

[S]ince no one will try to find out what constitutes right action, or what is the real meaning of freedom or justice, if he thinks he knows it already, the first task was to convince others too of their ignorance.

True enough, probably – unless she already thinks that things keep on being worth thinking about even if she does think she knows something about them already. That’s why a basic stance of skepticism, uncertainty, revisability, is a good thing. If we have it, we’re likely and predisposed to go on (and on and on) trying to find out things even if we have thought about … Read the rest

STDs don’t know who did what to whom

Jan 13th, 2007 12:12 pm | By

A tangential comment in this piece on why Harvard shouldn’t pretend, as Steven Pinker put it in The Crimson, “‘faith’ and ‘reason’ are parallel and equivalent ways of knowing” is pertinent to a recent discussion here of condoms and the Catholic church:

Indeed, it is not uncommon for religious leaders to advocate acting on faith in the face of reason – as when Catholic priests forbid married women to use condoms even when their husbands are infected with AIDS.

Of course, Catholic priests (and bishops and archbishops and cardinals and the pope and many theologians and Catholic thinkers and writers) forbid everyone to use condoms under any circs, but the point Lawrence Krauss is making by putting it … Read the rest

Ben Goldacre on Getting the Details Wrong *

Jan 13th, 2007 | Filed by

Also the overall story. Getting pretty much all of it wrong, really.… Read the rest