All entries by this author

Unoriginal, and False *

Mar 7th, 2003 | Filed by

Colin McGinn disagrees with Damasio’s version of the James-Lange theory of emotion.… Read the rest



More a Meditation Than an Argument *

Mar 7th, 2003 | Filed by

Richard Sennett’s Respect ‘draws on fields normally guarded by specialists: urbanism, psychology, literature, architecture, the history of ideas’.… Read the rest



Two Books on Islam Reviewed in Dissent *

Mar 7th, 2003 | Filed by

One makes lucid distinctions, the other leaves too much out.… Read the rest



Oh dear, some journalists should only write about the Spice Girls…

Mar 7th, 2003 10:50 am | By

It is well-known that most journalists write mostly nonsense most of the time. Happily, this is normally about things like Posh Spice, the g-spot or Iraq. But Zoe Williams clearly has greater ambitions, for she writes nonsense about sociobiology.

This article is so bad that it is hard to know where to start when discussing it. Take this claim:

“There are logical problems with it which it doesn’t take a degree in zoology (even from Oregon) to determine. First, it relies, as so many of these theories do, on the egregious notion that, while women’s fertility is all downhill from the moment they start enjoying The Archers, men suffer no deterioration of sperm quality till they’re one day older … Read the rest



Born or Made? *

Mar 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Is gayness in the genes or in the will, and who thinks which, and why.… Read the rest



So Far So Good…Maybe *

Mar 6th, 2003 | Filed by

But what happens when the results are bad? When students mark teachers down for not being entertaining enough?… Read the rest



And He Wasn’t Even Cool *

Mar 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Sometimes a teacher can change lives.… Read the rest



Life Explained *

Mar 5th, 2003 | Filed by

ALDaily on Difference Feminism, or anyway on Difference.… Read the rest



A Bluffer’s Guide to Science Studies and the Sociology of “Knowledge”

Mar 5th, 2003 | By Robert Nola

Ever since science became a going concern in the ancient world, people have
asked: “What is this thing called science?” An early answer was given by Aristotle
in his Organon, its focus being largely on the logic and methodology
of scientific reasoning. Even if its substantive claims are now no longer central,
it inaugurated a tradition of philosophical thought about science that has had
wide acceptance by many scientists and philosophers; in their different ways
recent philosophers such as Carnap, Popper, Lakatos and the Bayesians are all
within this tradition. It involves belief in, and the application of, principles
of logic, methodology and of rationality generally; on the whole such principles
have been instrumental in leading scientists, if not … Read the rest



Navel Gazing Not the Answer?

Mar 4th, 2003 8:28 pm | By

The other article I had in mind was this one by Lauren Slater in the New York Times last weekend. It’s interesting that both articles express skepticism about the value, especially the curative or therapeutic value, of the talking cure and also of the intervention of therapists after traumatic events. At last! I’ve been rolling my eyes and making sarcastic remarks for years whenever a news story informs us that a plane crashed or a crazed gunman shot up a school/fast-food joint/post office or an earthquake leveled a town, and in the next breath added that ‘counselors are on the way’. As if that helps. As if we can all heave a big sigh of relief because at least professionals … Read the rest



When Therapy Isn’t

Mar 4th, 2003 7:04 pm | By

There have been a couple of interesting articles on therapy in the past two weeks, each taking a fairly skeptical view of the healing powers of the…discipline? field? trade? What is therapy really?

In this one in the CHE Carol Tavris elucidates the gulf between clinical psychology and therapy on the one hand, and scientific or research psychology on the other, pointing out a number of ironic and/or horrifying facts along the way. For instance there is the fact that in many of the United States it is against the law to call oneself a psychologist unless one ‘has an advanced degree in clinical psychology and a license to practice psychotherapy’ but it is entirely legal to set oneself up … Read the rest



Just Don’t Talk About It *

Mar 4th, 2003 | Filed by

Maybe dwelling on one’s problems isn’t all that curative after all?… Read the rest



Outrage Inflation *

Mar 4th, 2003 | Filed by

No more of those petty little conspiracy theories, now it’s time for the big stuff.… Read the rest



The Therapy-Science Gap *

Mar 4th, 2003 | Filed by

Therapists and clinical psychologists believe things that evidence has shown to be false, and there is danger in that.… Read the rest



Kinds of Fundamentalism

Mar 3rd, 2003 8:03 pm | By

There is more than one kind of fundamentalism, as Terry Eagleton points out in this essay in the Guardian. Fundamentalism is not so much religious as it is textual, which means it covers a lot of ground.

Fundamentalists are those who believe that our linguistic currency is trustworthy only if it is backed by the gold standard of the Word of Words. They see God as copperfastening human meaning. Fundamentalism means sticking strictly to the script, which in turn means being deeply fearful of the improvised, ambiguous or indeterminate…Since writing is meaning that can be handled by anybody, any time, it is always profane and promiscuous. Meaning that has been written down is bound to be unhygienic…Fundamentalism is the paranoid

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Literature Subverts Dogmatism *

Mar 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Irving Howe’s taste for the complication and open-endedness of literature played hell with his Marxist certainties. … Read the rest



Golden Rice *

Mar 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Critics of GM are missing the point.… Read the rest



Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Mar 2nd, 2003 9:08 pm | By

One of the terms the sociologist Robert Merton, who died last week, was known for was the self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s a lot of the sort of thing about. All the endless assuring each other, for instance, that rationality, secularism, skepticism, atheism are all wrong and mistaken and harmful and stupid because humans have a Deep Need for religion. We have a Longing for ‘spirituality,’ a Hunger for myth, a nostalgia for a Big Daddy to protect us. There is a god-shaped hole at the center of our consciousness and all the silly pointless time-wasting things we do are efforts to fill it. This review of Adam Sutcliffe’s Judaism and Enlightenment, for example, says as much (paraphrasing the argument of … Read the rest



Honderich Reviews Williams *

Mar 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

And does not desire to be somplace else.… Read the rest



Midgley Reviews Dennett *

Mar 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

‘He tries much harder than he has before to show that he understands the importance of our inner life.’… Read the rest