All entries by this author

Carl Zimmer on John Maynard Smith *

Apr 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

He had the brilliant idea of applying game theory to evolution.… Read the rest

John Maynard Smith *

Apr 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

The Telegraph Obituary.… Read the rest

Not Waving But Drowning

Apr 21st, 2004 7:58 pm | By

We’ve wandered into an interesting discussion here (here as in here below, Bound Together) about hand waving and value judgments, about whether moral and aesthetic judgments can be grounded, or rather (since I’m not sure anyone here claims they can be grounded in the same way that physics or mathematics can, or the way empirical inquiry can) what follows from the fact (if it is a fact, and do correct me if I’m wrong about what anyone claims) that they can’t. My colleague, if I understand him correctly, thinks that since in the case of a conflict between a well-grounded argument that would support, say, genocide, and ungrounded moral commitment, we would (most of us, one hopes) choose the moral … Read the rest

Saudi Woman Beaten for Answering Phone *

Apr 21st, 2004 | Filed by

But her husband took her to hospital after beating her, so that was kind.… Read the rest

Upside-Down Analogies *

Apr 21st, 2004 | Filed by

Darwinism is like Stalinism, Intelligent Design is like brave freedom fighters. Yeah right.… Read the rest

Getting Around

Apr 21st, 2004 1:16 am | By

I thought this was an amusing item at Normblog yesterday. It’s an algorithm for generating correct political positions. I shouldn’t laugh – I’m sure I’ve been known to generate my share of correct political positions now and then. And what else was I supposed to do, after all [voice rising to a scream], generate incorrect ones?! But, but, but, alas, it’s true, some of those positions did start to sound amazingly point-missing or even downright black-is-white, a couple of years ago. Hence, no doubt, the need for algorithm. (Do I sound as if I know what an algorithm is? I don’t. Not a clue.)

Norm was mentioned in an article in the Jerusalem Post about the Jooglebomb a few days … Read the rest

Ashwin Mahesh Asks: Nationality or Religion? *

Apr 20th, 2004 | Filed by

What if your ‘religion denigrates the very existence of millions of our people in the name of tradition’?… Read the rest

In an Election Year, It’s Hip to be Hard-line *

Apr 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Is the Shivaji issue about religion politics, caste, nationalism?… Read the rest

Ben Pimlott *

Apr 20th, 2004 | Filed by

‘critical and independent in a world of academia that tends to travel in tides.’… Read the rest

Are Science and Religion Compatible? *

Apr 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Susan Haack distinguishes between plausible naturalism and implausible scientism.… Read the rest

Michael Lind on Peter Singer on George Bush *

Apr 20th, 2004 | Filed by

‘the bad habits of the blogosphere are corrupting the world of print discourse.’… Read the rest

‘Scientists in America’ Have a New Wheeze *

Apr 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Deliberately annoying people is a symptom of ODD.… Read the rest

I’ll Give You a Good Placebo For That *

Apr 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Expensive long-winded alternative therapists can maximise their placebo effect with ceremony.… Read the rest

Psychological Counselling at School? *

Apr 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Would it free teachers, help students, or promote therapy culture?… Read the rest

Saving the Seed or Saving Romantic Assumptions

Apr 19th, 2004 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

Modern agriculture is increasingly being used as an all encompassing category of evil by critics of globalization and transgenic (genetically modified) food crops, and by street protestors and their mentors and organizers. Implicit in the protest rhetoric is a dichotomy between modern agronomy (assumed to be large corporate enterprises either farming or selling to farmers) and small self-sufficient farmers, who replant their own seeds from year-to-year and have little or no reliance on the market for inputs.

The difference between the two presumed types of agriculture could not be more stark in the minds of the believers. The enemy is the monopolistic seed corporations and industrial farms that are mechanized, use purchased inputs including synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, and … Read the rest

Bound Together

Apr 18th, 2004 8:47 pm | By

There was a slightly bizarre article about ‘elitism’ and popular culture in the New York Times a couple of days ago. At least I thought it was bizarre, but I don’t know, maybe it’s not, maybe I’m the one who’s bizarre. Or elitist. Or both.

Elitist pop-culture critics must, in the end, be mindful of what large numbers of people actually see and read and listen to. Because the underlying mythology of pop culture is still the idea that the approval of large numbers of people validates that culture and the society that produces it. If something is truly loved by millions of people, it has touched those people, has tapped into some stream of universality that indicates a life

Read the rest

Secular Group Wins Tax-Exempt Status *

Apr 18th, 2004 | Filed by

In Canada, where the House of Commons starts every day with a prayer.… Read the rest

Elitist Pop Culture Critics *

Apr 18th, 2004 | Filed by

If we all watch the same thing, no matter how bad it is, that’s a bonding experience.… Read the rest


Apr 17th, 2004 9:26 pm | By

Time for another omnium gatherum, because I have a lot of little items, with not much to say about them, and no single larger item with a lot to say about. At least I think that’s what I have, though sometimes I discover when I start typing that I have more to say than I thought. Isn’t that always the way. Blather blather. Just ask my colleague, who tries his best to get a little work done in the intervals between my outbursts of talkativity, or whining, or both.

One item. I commented a few days ago on that April Fool’s comment in the Guardian, along with various comments on the comments. But I forgot to mention the one on … Read the rest

Understanding Evolution *

Apr 17th, 2004 | Filed by

And what science is and isn’t.… Read the rest