All entries by this author

Simple-minded but Nonetheless Bigoted *

Feb 27th, 2004 | Filed by

Christopher Hitchens detests Gibson’s movie with a passion.… Read the rest

Beagle found? *

Feb 27th, 2004 | Filed by

Not some random lost dog, but Darwin’s ship.… Read the rest

Not Only Where but Also What

Feb 26th, 2004 7:08 pm | By

Funny, it didn’t even seem like that much of a storm. I went out for a walk in it, thinking it was just a common or garden variety storm. I didn’t turn back after five minutes because I was drenched, so it can’t have been raining all that hard! It was certainly raining sideways, thanks to the wind, but I have been in many harder rains. I was wet when I got back but not soaked. And yet there were floods. And then awhile later there was more wind, and then there was a sudden unpleasant absence of electricity, which lasted more than seven hours. Nature can be so obstructive.

I was going to say something about meaning (and what … Read the rest

A Counter-cultural Antiques Roadshow *

Feb 26th, 2004 | Filed by

Review of Curtis White’s The Middle Mind deplores ‘torn-jeans prose.’… Read the rest

What is the Connection Between Religion and War? *

Feb 26th, 2004 | Filed by

‘In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God.’… Read the rest

First UK Citizenship Ceremony *

Feb 26th, 2004 | Filed by

Including singing, pledging and respecting.… Read the rest

It’s Time for GM Britain *

Feb 26th, 2004 | Filed by

It’s time for the British government to give the go ahead for GM foods.… Read the rest

Lots of Atheists in Britain Says Survey *

Feb 26th, 2004 | Filed by

Hurrah!… Read the rest

Muslims in Nigeria Boycott Immunisation *

Feb 26th, 2004 | Filed by

Polio vaccination is suspected as American plot to make Muslims infertile.… Read the rest

East of the Border

Feb 24th, 2004 4:49 pm | By

José mentioned the resort to fuzzy and misleading analogies that sophisticated theists resort to. I’ve been thinking, and scribbling notes, about that for a day or two. It’s true. There are fuzzy misleading analogies that crop up over and over again. I’m short on time at the moment, so will just say a couple of things, and go on at more length tomorrow.

There is for instance another version of the ‘separate sphere’ argument. That ‘science’ (never explicitly defined, and always cited in such a way that it’s implicitly defined far too narrowly) is in one sphere and poetry, art, morality, meaning and similar (often including things like love) are in another, along with of course religion. But if one … Read the rest

Interview With Christopher Browning *

Feb 24th, 2004 | Filed by

Historian of the Holocaust examines events as they unfolded, not via hindsight.… Read the rest

Frederick Crews on Trauma and Memory *

Feb 24th, 2004 | Filed by

What damage can be done when mistaken ideas about the mind get infused with ideological zeal.… Read the rest

Opposition to GM Was Overestimated *

Feb 24th, 2004 | Filed by

‘GM Nation?’ conveyed an overestimate of anti-GM feeling in UK, researchers say. … Read the rest

Philip Stott Rewrites a Guardian Leader *

Feb 24th, 2004 | Filed by

What it should have said about GM maize.… Read the rest

Fifty Years of Dissent *

Feb 24th, 2004 | Filed by

A magazine devoted to slaying orthodoxies.… Read the rest

Somewhere, Over the Rainbow

Feb 23rd, 2004 11:01 pm | By

I think part of why this either-or argument is so interesting is because the ‘separate spheres’ retort is so popular. If I’ve heard people say that once I’ve heard them say it – quite a few times. It’s always irritated me profoundly. That’s one reason I was so intensely annoyed to see Stephen Jay Gould, of all people, come out with it a few years ago. (Another reason was that he said so many absurd things in the process.) It’s always irritated me because it’s so convenient. So perfectly tailored to allow people to believe anything and everything they want to, just by locating whatever it is in the ‘separate sphere.’ Of course, people are ‘allowed’ to believe what they … Read the rest

Either It Is, or It Is Not

Feb 23rd, 2004 6:33 pm | By

Right, where was I, before things got so busy. Several places, one of which was a series of disagreements over theism and atheism. One of our readers, Ben Keen, emailed me a thought on the subject last week that suggested some further thoughts, or they may be just repeated restatements of the same thought, I’m not sure. My brain got a bit curdled over the last few days, and I’m not sure it’s back to normal yet. Whatever ‘normal’ may be in my case.

Ben’s comment, which he’s given me permission to quote, was this:

the topic of
religious claims being exempt from the same sort of scrutiny as other
sorts of truth-claims. Something people often say is that science

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Canetti on Murdoch’s New Book *

Feb 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

‘Her book is very badly written, shoddy…That would not be so bad if she had something to say.’… Read the rest

Face-Lift Worth Risking Life? *

Feb 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

Two cosmetic surgery patients die in six weeks, making others nervous.… Read the rest

Defiant Wakefield Demands Inquiry *

Feb 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

MMR doctor wants conflict of interest charge investigated.… Read the rest