All entries by this author

Regulate Psychoanalysts? Jamais! *

Jan 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Lacan said the ‘analyst’s only authority is his own.’ Hmm.… Read the rest



Peer Reviewed – by Which Peers? *

Jan 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Bush administration seeks to control who reviews scientific research.… Read the rest



Julian Baggini on Kilroy-Silk *

Jan 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Remember Mill’s distinction between offense and harm.… Read the rest



Certainty No

Jan 14th, 2004 8:10 pm | By

The New York Times has an article by Edward Rothstein on the annual Edge question, which John Brockman poses to a large number of writers, scientists and thinkers (many of them all three at once). This year the question is ‘What’s your law?’

There is some bit of wisdom, some rule of nature, some law-like pattern, either grand or small, that you’ve noticed in the universe that might as well be named after you. Gordon Moore has one; Johannes Kepler and Michael Faraday, too. So does Murphy. Since you are so bright, you probably have at least two you can articulate. Send me two laws based on your empirical work and observations you would not mind having tagged with your

Read the rest


Compare Coverage *

Jan 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Philip Stott looks at reporting on the GM Advisory Committee.… Read the rest



Lingua Franca Writers Sued *

Jan 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Bankruptcy trustee demands return of already reduced fees.… Read the rest



NY Times on the 2004 Edge Question *

Jan 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Find the silly comment equating scientific uncertainty with uncertainty about science.… Read the rest



‘Aims To’

Jan 14th, 2004 2:40 am | By

Here it is again – that endlessly repeated untrue statement about the utility of religion.

People like Dawkins, and the Creationists for that matter, make a mistake about the purposes of science and religion. Science tries to tell us about the physical world and how it works. Religion aims at giving a meaning to the world and to our place in it. Science asks immediate questions. Religion asks ultimate questions. There is no conflict here, except when people mistakenly think that questions from one domain demand answers from the other. Science and religion, evolution and Christianity, need not conflict, but only if each knows its place in human affairs — and stays within these boundaries.

Dawkins does not make a … Read the rest



Good Conversation

Jan 13th, 2004 11:28 pm | By

Start the Week is always good (well just about always), but I particularly liked last week’s, which I listened to a day or two ago. Richard Dawkins was on, explaining that (contrary to popular opinion) he’s an anti-Darwinian on moral matters. He thinks we should do our best to be different from what our genes would have us be; that, being the only species that’s capable of deciding to over-ride our genetic predispositions, we should damn well do it. Then there was Tim Hitchcock, saying some fascinating things about a change in sexual practices that happened late in the 17th century and caused a sharp rise in population. Dawkins pointed out that what Hitchcock was describing was in fact … Read the rest



Norberto Bobbio Obituary *

Jan 13th, 2004 | Filed by

Italy’s leading legal and political philosopher.… Read the rest



Report Clears GM Maize, Not Other Crops *

Jan 13th, 2004 | Filed by

Experts say beets and oil seed rape could pose a threat to birds and insects.… Read the rest



Public Understanding of Science *

Jan 13th, 2004 | Filed by

It does matter if people think science produces absolute certainties.… Read the rest



A Secular Candidate? What an Idea!

Jan 13th, 2004 2:08 am | By

This is a heartening statement. It’s good to see something, finally, to counter the bilge about presidential candidates and religion one sees in a lot of the press.

In Campaign 2004, secularism has become a dirty word. Democrats, particularly Howard Dean, are being warned that they do not have a chance of winning the presidential election unless they adopt a posture of religious “me-tooism” in an effort to convince voters that their politics are grounded in values just as sacred as those proclaimed by President Bush.

Aren’t they though. And there aren’t nearly enough people saying what childish nonsense that is. Maybe they’re all too busy explaining why they call themselves ‘brights’ – no, I won’t believe that.

At … Read the rest



One Nation Under Secularism *

Jan 12th, 2004 | Filed by

Susan Jacoby on postures of religious me-too-ism.… Read the rest



Susan Hill on Diaries *

Jan 12th, 2004 | Filed by

Kilvert, Lees-Milne, Pepys; ‘a special blend of honesty and appetite for life.’… Read the rest



Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and `Vedic Science’

Jan 12th, 2004 | By Meera Nanda

Postcolonialism and the myth of Hindu “renaissance”

The roots of “Vedic science” can be traced to the so-called Bengal Renaissance, which in turn was deeply influenced by the Orientalist constructions of Vedic antiquity as the “Golden Age” of Hinduism. Heavily influenced by German idealism and British romanticism, important Orientalists including H.T. Colebrooke, Max Mueller and Paul Deussen tended to locate the central core of Hindu thought in the Vedas, the Upanishads and, above all, in the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Shankara. Despite the deeply anti-rational and idealistic (that is, anti-naturalistic) elements of Advaita Vedanta, key Hindu nationalist reformers – from Raja Ram Mohun Roy and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee to Swami Vivekananda – began to find in it all the elements … Read the rest



Confirmation Bias

Jan 11th, 2004 9:17 pm | By

The waiting socialists have a bit more on the hijab issue and our disagreement on same. (That link goes to the right post; Marcus at Harry’s Place pointed out that the waiters in fact do have Permalinks; I just overlooked them.) One comment caused me to ponder a bit.

We won’t go over the same ground again here, as we’ve responded in the comments section attached to her post, and she’s responded to us. Guess what? She hasn’t changed her mind, and neither have we changed ours. What that might say about blogging in general we’ll leave to people better able and more willing to generalise about blogging than we are.

What caused the pondering is the ‘Guess what?’ That … Read the rest



The Financial Pages

Jan 11th, 2004 7:08 pm | By

Following on from the last N&C on the way the Bush administration listens to developers rather than to environmental scientists in its own agencies – there is a post on corruption, and the history of attempts to limit the effects of money on political culture at Cliopatria. It is highly frustrating to see the open, unembarrassed acceptance of the role of money in politics in the US, and to see how little that changes, what a non-issue it is, how easily it keeps going, how cheerily everyone accepts it. Bribery and corruption are usually considered bad things, but the fact that huge corporations give enormous wads of cash to US political campaigns and parties is, for some reason, just … Read the rest



MMR, Today and the BBC *

Jan 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Both sides of a ‘debate’ get equal coverage so the evidence is equal too, right? No.… Read the rest



Police Investigation of Newspaper Column *

Jan 11th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Indisputably stupid’ column on ‘Arabs’ an offence under the Public Order Act?… Read the rest