All entries by this author

Get real about human nature *

Sep 9th, 2002 | Filed by

Steven Pinker on the fears that lead to people embracing an erroneous conception of human nature.… Read the rest

Oxymoron? *

Sep 4th, 2002 | Filed by

The evolution of the scientific creationist.… Read the rest

Misunderstanding Richard Dawkins

Sep 1st, 2002 | By Jeremy Stangroom


Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene is the kind of book
that changes the way that people look at the world. Its importance
is that it articulates a gene’s-eye view of evolution. According
to this view, all organisms, including human beings, are ‘survival
machines’ which have been ‘blindly programmed’ to preserve their
genes (see The Selfish Gene, p. v). Of course, extant
survival machines take a myriad of different forms – for example,
it is estimated that there are some three million different species
of insect alone – but they all have in common that they have been
built according to the instructions of successful genes; that
is, genes whose replicas in previous generations managed to get
themselves copied.

At … Read the rest

Will Lingua Franca be back? *

Aug 20th, 2002 | Filed by

Intellectual arguments and personal bile make a compelling read.… Read the rest

Doug and Dave *

Aug 15th, 2002 | Filed by

Where crop circles come from.… Read the rest

Science Wars: an interview with Alan Sokal

Aug 15th, 2002 | By Julian Baggini

Dennis Healey once compared a verbal attack by one of his parliamentary
colleagues to "being savaged by a dead sheep." I was reminded
of this remark when I met the physicist Alan Sokal, the man who,
along with mathematician Jean Bricmont, has caused outrage and indignation
among the French intelligentsia first with his spoof post-modern
article published in the journal Social Text, and then for
his and Bricmont’s book Intellectual Impostures, which
combines a catalogue of misuses of scientific terms by predominantly
French thinkers with a stinging attack on what they call "sloppy

Given this history, you’d expect Sokal to be more lupine than lamb-like,
but in fact, he is a friendly, chatty, effusive figure more interested… Read the rest

Lay Sceptic’s Travels on Planet Energy

Aug 14th, 2002 | By Elina Rigler

Recently I have been feeling like a visitor on an alien planet: ordinary people
around me have started to communicate in a new, esoteric language. Let’s call
it Energyspeak. It uses the same vocabulary as Oldspeak (my native language),
but many of its words have been stripped of their usual meanings. Its speakers
also seem to inhabit a radically different metaphysical universe. They inform
me that there is a bioenergetic field flowing through and around us; and that
disturbances in it have dire consequences for our health. Those fluent in Energyspeak
pay regular visits to energy therapists (acupuncturists; homeopaths; reflexologists;
reiki healers) who are able to treat all kinds of physical and emotional problems
by correcting energy imbalances. I myself … Read the rest

Reputation *

Aug 10th, 2002 | Filed by

One of the three most important English language literary critics of the 20th century? Or is that a bit inflated.… Read the rest

Sums on snails *

Aug 10th, 2002 | Filed by

Francis Galton counted silly things.… Read the rest

Dawkins on Sanderson *

Aug 2nd, 2002 | Filed by

A Headmaster’s hatred of any locked door which might stand between a boy and some worthwhile enthusiasm shows what real education is.… Read the rest

Power to the Rich *

Jul 29th, 2002 | Filed by

Perhaps the most pro-business presidency the US has ever endured.… Read the rest

Amateur Journalism *

Jul 19th, 2002 | Filed by

What was lost in judiciousness was gained in verve.… Read the rest

Berkowitz on Rawls *

Jul 3rd, 2002 | Filed by

‘How can the moral law be both a fact of reason and in need of justification by faith?’… Read the rest

Philosophy and Biography *

Jun 10th, 2002 | Filed by

Is there any connection between the way we think and the way we live? Surely yes, but do biographers know what the connections are?… Read the rest

Dawkins or Gould *

Jun 9th, 2002 | Filed by

What is and what is not at issue in the disagreements.… Read the rest

Darwin and Jesus mix? *

May 10th, 2002 | Filed by

Michael Ruse says they can.… Read the rest

Aesthete *

May 8th, 2002 | Filed by

Cynthia Ozick believes stories occupy a realm separate from life, and that includes politics.… Read the rest

Hitchens on Amis Major *

May 2nd, 2002 | Filed by

Kingsley Amis thought of boredom as a form of tyranny.… Read the rest

Meritocracy *

Apr 20th, 2002 | Filed by

Philosophers and political theorists disagree with popular belief that special rewards are deserved.… Read the rest

Gitlin Meets Fallows *

Apr 15th, 2002 | Filed by

And they talk about media saturation.… Read the rest