All entries by this author

Wot’s the Big Idea *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

Goodhart, Brockman, Greenfield, Bentley on Sen. Also Bunting, Klein. Oh well.… Read the rest

Philip Pullman *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

Some themes are too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.… Read the rest

Evidence for Jesus Hauled into Court *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus are all hearsay. Next?… Read the rest

Noah’s Ark [Creationist] Zoo Farm *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

Note the cross on the donkey’s back. Think that’s an accident? Think again.… Read the rest

Colin McGinn Goes to the Movies *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

‘The highbrow and lowbrow do daily battle in this man.’… Read the rest

‘Gay Magazine in Race Row’ *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

Magazine of Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association criticized for comments.… Read the rest

Dawkins Does God for Channel 4 *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

The God Delusion and the Virus of Faith.… Read the rest

Incompetent Design Maybe? Infernal? *

Jan 3rd, 2006 | Filed by

Incomplete? … Read the rest

Insipid Design

Jan 3rd, 2006 2:31 am | By

Well, yes. It’s an obvious thought, isn’t it. One of the first that occurs to us, in fact. If the Designer is so damn intelligent, why aren’t we better? Why isn’t everything? I mean, is this supposed to be optimal? You’re kidding, right?

Far be it from me to kick an idea when it’s down, but I do wonder whether proponents of ID have really thought this through…Because if we were designed by God, it wasn’t on one of His better days.

Yeah you could say that.

Why would an intelligent designer equip each of us with an appendix — an organ whose sole purpose is to become infected and periodically explode? If this was Intelligent Design, then it

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Einstein as a Philosopher of Science *

Jan 2nd, 2006 | Filed by

Philosophical habit of mind had a profound effect on the way he did physics.… Read the rest

Top Science Stories of 2005 *

Jan 2nd, 2006 | Filed by

Climate science and tipping point, bird flu, ID, chimpanzee genome, more.… Read the rest

Turkey Admits Pamuk Trial Not an Image-booster *

Jan 2nd, 2006 | Filed by

Laws that limit freedom of expression may be changed.… Read the rest

The Edge Question for 2006 *

Jan 2nd, 2006 | Filed by

What is your dangerous idea? Dawkins, Dennett, Pinker and many more.… Read the rest

Gordon Brown Quotes Gertrude Himmelfarb *

Jan 2nd, 2006 | Filed by

Why choose a ferociously neocon revisionist history of the Enlightenment?… Read the rest

Reactions to the Dover Decision on Intelligent Design (with special attention to the unfortunate intervention by Professor Alschuler)

Jan 2nd, 2006 | By Brian Leiter

This blog has a rather lengthy compendium of links pertaining to yesterday’s court decision. The New York Times, meanwhile, has run a pleasingly direct editorial:

Judge Jones’s decision was a striking repudiation of intelligent design, given that Dover’s policy was minimally intrusive on classroom teaching. Administrators merely read a brief disclaimer at the beginning of a class asserting that evolution was a theory, not a fact; that there were gaps in the evidence for evolution; and that intelligent design provided an alternative explanation and could be further explored by consulting a book in the school library. Yet even that minimal statement amounted to an endorsement of religion, the judge concluded, because it caused students to doubt the theory of

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Black Swans and Ivory Bills

Jan 1st, 2006 11:11 pm | By

Did you listen to Gene Sparling telling the story of seeing the Ivory Bill? Do, if you haven’t – it’s a real treat. Apart from anything else he’s funny as hell, in a marvelously relaxed leisurely drawling way. I first heard it by accident, I turned the radio on at random and in the middle, so didn’t know what it was at first, some guy talking about being out in the woods and what a remarkable place it was, I wasn’t paying much attention until he started talking about a bird – and then when he said ‘I thought “that’s the biggest pileated woodpecker I’ve ever seen”‘ I was galvanized and began paying very close attention indeed.

And it’s … Read the rest

One Shrug Too Many

Jan 1st, 2006 10:00 pm | By

Yes, truth does matter, but it can be a hard slog sometimes convincing people of that. An American studies teacher offers some illustrations.

O’Brien violates old novelistic standards; his book is both fictional and autobiographical, with the lines between the two left deliberately blurred. My students adored the book and looked at me as if they had just seen a Model-T Ford when I mentioned that a few critics felt that the book was dishonest because it did not distinguish fact from imagination. “It says right on the cover ‘a work of fiction’” noted one student. When I countered that we ourselves we using it to discuss the actual Vietnam War, several students immediately defended the superiority of metaphorical

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US Failure to Invest in Scientific Research *

Jan 1st, 2006 | Filed by

A creeping crisis caused by a pattern of short-term thinking and a lack of long-term investment.… Read the rest

Paradoxes of Postmodernism *

Jan 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Truth-skeptics have to be taught to see that disguised fiction can be dangerous.… Read the rest

When Facts Change, Change Your Mind *

Jan 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Marketplace of ideas does not work because large parts of the audience want comfort rather than truth. … Read the rest