All entries by this author

First rule: get the evidence right *

Oct 27th, 2002 | Filed by

If you want to make an argument, it’s no good saying the flood ate your homework.… Read the rest



Galileo and the gang *

Oct 27th, 2002 | Filed by

Is the conflict between science and religion inevitable, or a result of tactical decisions?… Read the rest



Trinidadian guppies and Arabian babblers *

Oct 26th, 2002 | Filed by

Shouting at predators, risk-taking, the Big Mistake Hypothesis, altruism; the questions about cooperation and evolution go on being asked.… Read the rest



The power of facing unpleasant facts *

Oct 26th, 2002 | Filed by

One independent thinker with an aversion to tribalism and cant pays his respects to another.… Read the rest



Hot and cold running Psychoanalysis *

Oct 25th, 2002 | Filed by

Is extensive therapy necessary both to survive family life and to raise children who can survive family life?… Read the rest



Report undermines its own message *

Oct 25th, 2002 | Filed by

Nuffield Council on Bioethics releases report on behavioural genetics, but guides the press to focus on peripheral issue of designer babies.… Read the rest



Tversky and Kahneman on irrationality *

Oct 25th, 2002 | Filed by

Nobel prize-winner and his late colleague explored the illogical ways humans make decisions.… Read the rest



Not new and not science *

Oct 25th, 2002 | Filed by

There is a difference between science and computational play; metaphors can illuminate but not predict.… Read the rest



Difference Feminism

Oct 24th, 2002 | By

Second wave feminism has always had a radical strand. It has always been about
more than equal pay. It was also, for instance, about exposing and then discarding
banal conventional unreflective ideas that led to banal conventional unreflective
behaviour. Ideas about cooking and cleaning being somehow naturally women’s
work, for example, which led to men cheerfully lounging about while women put
in what Arlie Hochschild calls a second shift. And even more than that, unexamined
ideas about what women are like, what they want, what they should be and do.
David Lodge once remarked that women became much more interesting after feminism,
and his own novels bear this out, as do those of Michael Frayn and other male
novelists who … Read the rest



Guns and probate *

Oct 24th, 2002 | Filed by

Mistakes in evidence, however small, can undermine a case.… Read the rest



Suspect anyone wearing a halo *

Oct 24th, 2002 | Filed by

Hitchens thinking through Orwell and himself at the same time.… Read the rest



Martyrdom myth defies the facts *

Oct 23rd, 2002 | Filed by

The political uses of putative martyrdom, and the dangers.… Read the rest



To forget the past… *

Oct 23rd, 2002 | Filed by

As evidence of Stalin’s mass killings is uncovered, many Russians don’t want to know.… Read the rest



Ideologically driven review *

Oct 23rd, 2002 | Filed by

Historians dispute a review by a non-historian who seems to have read a different book.… Read the rest



Postmodernism and History

Oct 22nd, 2002 | By Richard J. Evans

Postmodernism comes in many guises and many varieties,
and it has had many kinds of positive influences on historical scholarship.
It has encouraged historians to take the irrational in the past more seriously,
to pay more attention to ideas, beliefs and culture as influences in their own
right, to devote more effort to framing our work in literary terms, to put individuals,
often humble individuals, back into history, to emancipate ourselves from what
became in the end a constricting straitjacket of social-science approaches,
quantification and socio-economic determinism.


But this is postmodernism in its more moderate
guise. The literature on postmodernism usefully distinguishes between the moderate
and the radical. What I call radical postmodernism takes its cue from another
post, post-structuralism, … Read the rest



Questioning the motives *

Oct 21st, 2002 | Filed by

Has inequality increased in the last two or three decades, and is it a problem if it has, and is it invidious even to mention the subject, and if so, why?… Read the rest



At the Bookfest

Oct 20th, 2002 4:25 pm | By

I went to the Northwest Bookfest yesterday to hear Steven Pinker and William Calvin talk about brains and evolution. Pinker is here on a book tour with his new book The Blank Slate, and I also went to hear him Friday evening. The Bookfest event was particularly interesting, because it was a dialogue and a little bit less planned than a lecture necessarily is. Calvin is a neuroscientist at the University of Washington who, as he pointed out, like Pinker tends to write books for the general public. His latest book, A Mind for all Seasons, is about the likely ways climate change and the evolutionary pressures that go with it shaped the human mind, and he and … Read the rest



Hermeneutics of New Jersey *

Oct 20th, 2002 | Filed by

Deconstructing, psychoanalysing, close reading or rather viewing, rewinding ‘The Sopranos’…are academics watching a little too much television?… Read the rest



How to discuss controversial subjects honestly *

Oct 18th, 2002 | Filed by

Jared Diamond reviews book on evolutionary explanation of religion in which contentious, often oversimplified ideas are treated fairly.… Read the rest



Nurture versus nurture *

Oct 18th, 2002 | Filed by

What seems like the reasonable compromise position, that human nature is half genes and half upbringing, can still get it wrong, Steven Pinker says. Sometimes it’s 100% one or the other.… Read the rest