All entries by this author

When in Doubt, Show Tits *

Jul 19th, 2003 | Filed by

French feminists attack Green campaign that features a female breast for no apparent reason.… Read the rest

Cynthia Ozick on Azar Nafisi *

Jul 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Theocratic tyranny, a bus full of writers on the edge of a cliff, vigilantes and fanatics take over the revolution.… Read the rest

Where Cheap Servants Come From *

Jul 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Underpaid, easily-fired Third World women do the domestic work no one else wants to.… Read the rest

Science and Religion

Jul 17th, 2003 | By

There is an entrenched idea, even among many atheists, secularists, skeptics that arguments about religion – arguments between atheists and theists, science and religion, believers and non-believers – are futile, at best a waste of time and at worst offensive if not cruel. But the trouble is there seems to be no such idea on the other side. Believers and theists seem to have no hesitation or diffidence whatever about assuming their beliefs are both true and synonymous with virtue, and saying as much. This is a peculiar arrangement, any way you look at it. The side that has it right, that considers evidence and logic and probablities, is politely silent. The side that, if forced to choose between evidence … Read the rest

Exclude Men but not Women? *

Jul 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Is it a good idea to exclude men from sport to achieve gender equality, but not exclude women from university to achieve the same thing?… Read the rest

Flattery, of a Sort

Jul 16th, 2003 7:52 pm | By

Well here’s a turn-up for the books. Plagiarism now. Someone has helped himself to the article I wrote for In Focus recently, ‘What Is Elitism?’ and posted it on a philosophy forum without so much as a by your leave. Not a word about B and W, not even a shy mention of the fact that he hadn’t written it himself. Well except the dopy last sentence, he may have written that; I certainly didn’t. But I bloody well did write the rest of it.

I’ve been emailing him on the subject, but answer came there none. He did append a vague (and highly overdue) remark to the effect that ‘a version’ of this article appeared somewhere or other, naming … Read the rest

Line Between Religious Belief and Delusion *

Jul 16th, 2003 | Filed by

The second deficit means being unable to discard the impossible experience.… Read the rest

The Whig View of Religious History *

Jul 15th, 2003 | Filed by

From millions of gods to one – this is progress?… Read the rest


Jul 14th, 2003 8:30 pm | By

A UN representative says the UK government is breaching the United Nations convention on children’s rights by imposing a targets and testing regime in English schools that ignores their needs. This is an interesting notion, and one is tempted to mock it noisily. There is a right not to be tested? Who knew! If only that right had been discovered when I was twelve! How much more fun I would have had. But perhaps one ought to resist the temptation. But perhaps one still ought to point out some problems with that idea, without actually mocking.

Of course, the whole question of tests and testing is a controversial, endlessly-debated one. There is much to be said for both sides, … Read the rest

Do Tests Violate Children’s Rights? *

Jul 14th, 2003 | Filed by

Emphasis on tests in UK ignores the needs of children, says UN envoy.… Read the rest

Government advisers and biotech links *

Jul 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Do biotech industry links undermine the independence of scientific advice?… Read the rest

Fashionable Where, Exactly? *

Jul 13th, 2003 | Filed by

One prince’s attack on fashionable views is another historian’s conservative agenda.… Read the rest

Post-post-post-postmodernism *

Jul 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Shock-horror: Toby Litt says he’s not a postmodernist after all.… Read the rest

Silence is Lead

Jul 12th, 2003 5:58 pm | By

Right. Here’s an Op-Ed piece by Daniel Dennett that gives one answer to Susan Greenfield’s notion that ‘science-religion ding-dongs’ are a complete waste of time. The anecdote he tells about taking part in a conference at which leading authors, artists and scientists talked to clever high school students, and he at the end of his talk mentioned that he is an atheist.

Many students came up to me afterwards to thank me, with considerable passion, for “liberating” them. I hadn’t realized how lonely and insecure these thoughtful teenagers felt. They’d never heard a respected adult say, in an entirely matter of fact way, that he didn’t believe in God. I had calmly broken a taboo and shown how easy it

Read the rest

The End of Section 28 *

Jul 12th, 2003 | Filed by

Thatcherite law that outlawed ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools has been abolished.… Read the rest

The Anti-Monoculture Mania

Jul 12th, 2003 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The critics of modern life never cease to amaze us. Everyday there is a new
crisis of modernity that threatens our continued existence. Nowhere is this
more evident than in agriculture. We’re told that the use of pesticides is generating
soaring cancer rates, yet there is nothing in the statistics which confirms
this alarmist rhetoric. It is claimed that the Green Revolution led to a decline
in vegetable production. Never mind that in most areas where there were significant
advances in the production of modern grain varieties, there were also the largest
increases in non-grain consumption; and that the world’s population is eating
a more diverse diet than ever before. And also, never mind that without the
yield increases in … Read the rest

You and What Army?

Jul 11th, 2003 8:06 pm | By

Science and Religion again. I happened on this odd little item at SciTech Daily. I haven’t read it yet – when I have, perhaps I will comment further – but just on the front page there is a somewhat absurd quotation.

Science can tell us how chemicals bond but only religion can answer the why questions, why do we have a universe like this at all?

Excuse me? Only religion can answer those questions? Er…doesn’t that rather presuppose that religion can answer those questions? And isn’t that a fairly ridiculous presupposition? Answer them how? By making assertions? By telling stories? By making stuff up? At that rate, I can answer those questions too, and so can science, and so can … Read the rest

Epistemology is not the Only Subject *

Jul 11th, 2003 | Filed by

Anglophone analytic philosophers got it wrong by disregarding the history of philosophy.… Read the rest

War With the Fuzzy-Wuzzies *

Jul 11th, 2003 | Filed by

Imperialism is bad, yes, but we still like all the violence. So, do a revisionist version.… Read the rest

GM Explained *

Jul 11th, 2003 | Filed by

Useful Guardian background article on the debate over genetically modified crops.… Read the rest