All entries by this author

MMR Researchers Issue Retraction *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Ten doctors who co-authored the MMR health fears study have said there was insufficient evidence to draw that conclusion.… Read the rest

Tougher Penalties for Genital Mutilation *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Up to 14 years in prison for parents who allow their children to undergo female circumcision.… Read the rest


Mar 2nd, 2004 7:34 pm | By

I now think I inadvertently conceded a little too much in that last post. Through not paying quite enough attention to the first part of Chris’ comment – the ‘at its best, religion succeeds in a symbolic articulation of universal moral concern’ part. My attention was grabbed by the parenthesis, by ‘motivation,’ because motivation is exactly what I had it in mind to talk about. I do think religion can be a powerful motivator, for both good and ill. But that symbolic articulation I take to be a separate question, and that one I’m much more doubtful about. I for one simply don’t find its articulations all that impressive, or at least no more so (at best) than secular articulations. … Read the rest

Review of A C Grayling’s New Book *

Mar 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

‘He would like to rip philosophy from what Hazlitt called the “labyrinths of intellectual abstraction”‘… Read the rest

Complementary Medicine Needs Proper Research *

Mar 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

No integration into the NHS until proper science has been done, argues Edzard Ernst.… Read the rest

Dinosaurs in Asteroid Shock *

Mar 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

Single impact theory of dinosaur extinction is challenged.… Read the rest

Bonfire of the Bourgeois Vanities

Mar 2nd, 2004 | By David Stanway

In China, people of a certain generation will tell you stories about an era that might as well be a millenium ago. There are thousands of children, amassed in Shanghai’s train station, waiting for the beginning of what feels to them to be a big and important adventure. Their parents are weeping, watching their children bound towards the carriages on their way to the countryside, where – as part of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – they will spend their formative years learning from the peasants.

The kids who participated in this vast exodus are now in their forties and fifties, and most complain of the gap in their education and the wasted decade lasting from 1966 to the death … Read the rest

Confidence in MMR Vaccine Grows *

Mar 1st, 2004 | Filed by

Thanks to conflict of interest allegations.… Read the rest

NHS Head Dismisses Charles’ Demands *

Mar 1st, 2004 | Filed by

‘The NHS will use anything that evidential research shows works.’… Read the rest

Daniel Boorstin *

Mar 1st, 2004 | Filed by

The New York Times obituary.… Read the rest

Antipathy and Propathy

Mar 1st, 2004 12:09 am | By

I was planning in any case to say a few things about the case for the other side. In a laborious attempt to be fair, to avoid groupthink and confirmation bias, etc. No not really, that’s only a joke – there actually are some things to be said for the other side that I find persuasive. Not for the basic truth claims of religion, but for the idea that religion can be a good thing in some ways. (Not much of an admission, believers will think, but it’s the best I can do.) I was planning to do that today in any case and then by pure coincidence I got a reminder or reinforcement from Chris Bertram at Twisty SticksRead the rest


Mar 1st, 2004 12:08 am | By

Are we all awash in a sea of mutual agreement and back-patting and groupthink here? Is all this discussion of lame defenses of religion just another smelly little orthodoxy*? Do we agree with each other too much, with the result that we are smug and arrogant, as the beleaguered minority that doesn’t agree with us says? My colleague probably thinks so, even though he’s just as critical of religion as I am. He thinks blogs tend to foster groupthink; he’s just written a very good column on the subject for TPM. He also thinks a lot of other skeptical things about blogs, which is tiresome of him. No doubt he thinks I’m being very pompous, vain, boring, etc, as some … Read the rest

Ian Bell Reviews Francis Wheen *

Feb 29th, 2004 | Filed by

A cool, dispassionate look at Wheen’s Mumbo Jumbo.… Read the rest

Daniel Boorstin *

Feb 29th, 2004 | Filed by

The Washington Post obituary.… Read the rest

Is the French Government Anti-Intelligence? *

Feb 29th, 2004 | Filed by

French intellectuals have signed a petition to that effect.… Read the rest

US Trade Embargo Extended to Research *

Feb 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Treasury Department warns against publishing scientific research from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Cuba.… Read the rest

The Hubble Telescope is Doomed *

Feb 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Bush administration has redirected NASA resources to Mars and moon trips.… Read the rest

Prince Charles Makes Fool of Himself – Again *

Feb 28th, 2004 | Filed by

More “alternative” treatments should be available on the NHS.… Read the rest

A Defense of Whig History

Feb 28th, 2004 | By Christopher Orlet

Not long ago the television show Biography aired a documentary on the life of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. Midway through the film came the obligatory two minutes concerning Ford’s anti-Semitic rantings, his Nazi medal, and his anti-Jewish newspaper The Dearborn Independent. When it came time to put Ford’s anti-Semitism into perspective, the film-makers explained that Ford’s views were part and parcel of growing up on a Reconstruction-era farm in southeast Michigan, and as such the great man was no different than anyone else of his time and place. The film-makers didn’t go into the reasons why the good folks of southeast Michigan should be naturally anti-Semitic. There were after all no Jews to speak of in … Read the rest

Another Bad Defense

Feb 27th, 2004 11:27 pm | By

We’ll get back to the religious discussion (and anyway it’s continuing in a lively manner in the comments), but other things come up in the meantime. This item may seem like just a bit of self-advertising, but it isn’t really. I hadn’t even seen it until today, and didn’t know about it, so I feel I came by it honestly. That is to say, I would have linked to it anyway, even if it had not been by someone who writes a column for B&W; I would have linked to it if I’d never heard of Julian. I would have done a Note and Comment as well, because he mentions some ideas I’ve been scratching away at lately, and others … Read the rest