All entries by this author

Hitchens on Naipaul, Fallaci and Others *

Mar 20th, 2003 | Filed by

Islam needs stringent criticism, he says, but not the kind Fallaci applies.… Read the rest



Teach me how to think, please!

Mar 19th, 2003 5:58 pm | By

I have found something useful for philosophers to do!

Surprising news indeed, but take a look at this paragraph from Helen Salmon, student representative for the Stop the War Coalition.

This is not a war for the liberation of the people of Iraq. The US and Britain were happy to back Saddam’s tyrannical regime, his gassing of the Kurds and his war against Iran until he invaded Kuwait. Nor is this a war against weapons of mass destruction. No evidence of such weapons has been found in Iraq, and no war has been threatened against North Korea, despite its possession of nuclear weapons.

Never in the field of writing about human confict, have so many bad argumentative moves … Read the rest



Consumption R Us? *

Mar 19th, 2003 | Filed by

A new history of consumption in the US breaks with one academic convention but adheres to another.… Read the rest



Good Idea *

Mar 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Bill in Parliament seeks to archive web pages for posterity. B & W will be immortal.… Read the rest



Oversimplifying Does Not Help *

Mar 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Bush bill of goods may be dodgy but so is Chirac Double Standards Emporium, says David Aaronovitch.… Read the rest



Philosophers – Shut Up Now!

Mar 17th, 2003 7:37 pm | By

What is it about philosophers that they can’t resist pontificating about things they know nothing about? The examples are legion. Mary Midgley and David Stove wittering on about Darwinism and selfish genes. Simon Blackburn and Mary Warnock making a mess even of amateur political commentary. And Roger Scruton demonstrating that there’s no start to what he knows about popular music.

And the latest example? Have a look at this from an article in Issue 22 of The Philosophers’ Magazine (a title which sounds vaguely familiar):

Subjects like sociology, psychology, religious studies and history, which adjoin philosophy, all require empirical support, which is interpreted within the lines of a largely unquestioned methodology. Philosophy is the only subject in which the basic … Read the rest



Education Gap *

Mar 17th, 2003 | Filed by

John Ogbu’s study suggests some painful reasons for the black-white gap in education. Critics say he downplays social factors.… Read the rest



Drought Finished the Maya *

Mar 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Droughts in 810, 860, 910 C.E. may be what ended the Mayan civilization, evidence suggests.… Read the rest



Conspiracy Theories *

Mar 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Why conspiracy theories persist in the face of the facts.… Read the rest



Designer Babies? *

Mar 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Not likely, says Steven Pinker, because the genetics of behavior is far too complicated.… Read the rest



Yum, Gefilte Fish

Mar 16th, 2003 7:56 pm | By

Well, this is a fun item for the eve of war. Even, or do I mean especially, if it’s not really true that many Jews worldwide are hailing this nonsense as a modern miracle. Perhaps that’s just a bit of casual journalistic exaggeration, hmm? After all there are only two witnesses, and the fish is no longer talking, to say the least. Surely the smallness, the minusculity, of the number of witnesses ought to give the most credulous believer pause. Two. I ask you. At that rate couldn’t any one of us get any other one of us to join in a fun-loving prank and tell the world any old thing? ‘My garden gnome suddenly recited page 7 of … Read the rest



More Weeds, Spiders, Bird Food *

Mar 16th, 2003 | Filed by

New research indicates GM crops may be beneficial for environment in some ways.… Read the rest



Paradigm Shifts in Medicine *

Mar 16th, 2003 | Filed by

A doctor on the ever-moving target of medical knowledge.… Read the rest



Carpe Diem *

Mar 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Seconds from becoming gefilte fish, a carp shouts warnings in Hebrew. According to two witnesses. David Hume, anyone?… Read the rest



Do Fish Have Free Will? *

Mar 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Carlin Romano reviews Daniel Dennett’s Freedom Evolves.… Read the rest



Fun at Skool

Mar 15th, 2003 8:23 pm | By

John Sutherland has redeemed himself. I took issue with him a few weeks ago when he wrote a column recommending the UK imitate the US in using athletic scholarships to increase minority access to higher education. I think there are some serious drawbacks to that way of doing things, so I said as much. But I think he’s right on the money here. I’ve nattered about this issue of students as consumers several times on B & W. I’m glad to know other people are noticing. One would think it would be self-evident that 18-22 year olds might possibly want qualities in their teachers other than scholarship or the ability to inspire, and that hence their evaluations would be of … Read the rest



The Action is on the Surface *

Mar 15th, 2003 | Filed by

Janet Malcolm interviewed on journalists as vampires, psychoanalysis as literary technique, lawsuits and more.… Read the rest



Would an SAT Help? *

Mar 15th, 2003 | Filed by

Would an aptitude test like the ones used in the US help recruit working class students to university in the UK?… Read the rest



Theory, Theory Everywhere *

Mar 15th, 2003 | Filed by

How do people manage to generate ‘theory wars’ out of teaching a basic skill that should be learned before university?… Read the rest



Student Consumers *

Mar 14th, 2003 | Filed by

Spot on. John Sutherland on student evaluations: ‘the one criticism which is never made is: “This professor is just an entertainer”.’… Read the rest