All entries by this author

Advanced Math? Wozzat? *

Sep 9th, 2003 | Filed by

Helping the bottom of the class is good, but so is fostering talent.… Read the rest

Did Habermas and Suhrkamp Skim? *

Sep 9th, 2003 | Filed by

If not, why did they change their minds about Ted Honderich’s book?… Read the rest

Fair and Unbalanced

Sep 8th, 2003 10:40 pm | By

There is an interesting post and discussion on Crooked Timber today, on the tension between trying to work out a reasoned position on issues like global warming, and the political commitments of some (or all?) of the sources one relies on to make such judgements. It grabbed my attention because of course that tension is what B and W is all about. Also because I bump against it (can one bump against a tension? never mind, two idioms collide) all the time in going about my daily task of finding news and other links. ‘Hmm, interesting article, makes some good points, but do I really want to link to the Washington Times/Reason/the Telegraph?’ Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Well…actually … Read the rest

Putting the Boot In *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Clive James ponders Twain on Cooper, Macdonald on Cozzens, and finds it good.… Read the rest

Susan Greenfield Interview *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Is there a tension between popularisation (and celebrity) and serious research?… Read the rest

Radical Islam is Not Modern but Modernist *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Postmodernists despise facts as ‘positivist’ but they are a vital weapon, Terry Eagleton says.… Read the rest

Postmodernists in the Bush Administration *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Truth is a construct, therefore who knows, maybe tax cuts for the rich will create jobs.… Read the rest

A Scientist in Arts Faculty Territory *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Where opinion is sacred while facts have a long leash.… Read the rest

Orthorexia Nervosa? *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Cooking food is not natural.’ Neither is living in a house or reading books. So?… Read the rest

Psychiatry No Better Than Astrology? *

Sep 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Richard Bentall differs from Laing because he is a scientist.… Read the rest

Doubt is Possible

Sep 7th, 2003 8:22 pm | By

This is an interesting little case study in the use and abuse of evidence, investigative techniques, language and rhetoric, inference and conclusion. One of those (all too familiar) occasions when attention-seeking and self-aggrandizement dress themselves up in scientific (or pseudo-scientific) vocabulary and give the whole enterprise a bad name.

Dominique Labbé, a specialist in what is known as lexical statistics, claims that he has solved a “fascinating scientific enigma” by determining that all of Molière’s masterpieces…were in fact the work of Pierre Corneille…”There is such a powerful convergence of clues that no doubt is possible,” Mr. Labbé said. The centerpiece of his supposed discovery is that the vocabularies used in the greatest plays of Molière and two comedies of Corneille

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The Quiche Party *

Sep 7th, 2003 | Filed by

When political commitments get confused with consumer choices, rhetoric is in play.… Read the rest

Molière was Really Corneille? *

Sep 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Statistics prove it! No they don’t, say scholars, and the argument is on.… Read the rest

Non sequiturs *

Sep 6th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Science can’t provide all the answers.’ Oh and religion can?… Read the rest

Our Banner: No Consensus for Loonies

Sep 5th, 2003 5:15 pm | By

Here’s an item for all you students of artful rhetoric: an article about pagans, Wiccans and other ‘alternative’ groups and the use they make of Stonehenge and similar sites. Pure wool from beginning to end – enough wool there to make jumpers for the entire Butterflies and Wheels staff.

Spiritual site-users, specifically Pagans and Travellers, have traditionally been negatively represented by the media…However, this report outlines the growing need for recognition of the rights of Pagans, who come from all walks of life…Pagan and other spiritual site-users believe that the spirits and energies of the land can be most strongly felt at sacred sites enabling connections to be made with our ancestors.

Yes, and? So what? What if I believe … Read the rest

Calls to Make Hard Choices *

Sep 5th, 2003 | Filed by

They may be a mask for strategies no one wishes to acknowledge.… Read the rest

How Embarrassing *

Sep 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Archaeologist’s worst nightmare – that 2000-year-old carving was done by one Barry Luxton in 1995… Read the rest

The Myth of Repressed Memory *

Sep 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Wendy Grossman interviews Elizabeth Loftus.… Read the rest

Psychology and Psychiatry

Sep 4th, 2003 9:29 pm | By

We had a discussion/disagreement recently about the validity or otherwise of psychiatric diagnoses or labels, designer drugs, and the DSM [see Comments on the N&C ‘Opinion’ on 26 August if you’re interested]. I was browsing my disorderly collection of printed-out articles this morning and so re-read this article by Carol Tavris that I posted in News last March. What she says is highly pertinent to the discussion/disagreement. In fact, it raises a whole set of questions that are very much B and W territory: what is science and what isn’t, what is pseudoscience, what kind of evidence is reliable and what isn’t and why, what kind of harm can be done by taking shaky evidence as more reliable than it … Read the rest


Sep 4th, 2003 8:23 pm | By

Erin O’Connor says some very interesting things in this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. They’re things I’ve been thinking for some time myself.

But almost everyone agrees with the astounding premise that it’s reasonable to use the freshman reading program to stage a political debate…On both sides of the debate, a book’s politics are assumed to matter more than its scholarly merit or literary quality…The tacit assumption by both liberals and conservatives that Chapel Hill’s summer reading program is more about politics than about reading should give us pause. We ought to be asking what it means to read opinionated works as either a confirmation or negation of identity — but instead we are fighting endlessly about whose

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