Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

You get what you pay for

Apr 6th, 2011 12:19 pm | By

Jerry Coyne’s take on the Templeton Prize is slightly different from Mark Vernon’s.

Templeton plies its enormous wealth with a single aim: to give credibility to religion by blurring its well-demarcated border with science. The Templeton Prize, which once went to people like Mother Teresa and the Reverend Billy Graham, now goes to scientists who are either religious themselves or say nice things about religion.

That’s why it really is a form of bribery. It’s open, transparent, accountable bribery, as opposed to back-room under the table bribery, but it is bribery: the prize rewards a predetermined ideological viewpoint, as opposed to research or inquiry or art. It rewards various versions of the claim that religion and science somehow work together as opposed to competing or clashing; it does not reward versions of the claim that they don’t and can’t.

Templeton’s mission is a serious corruption of science. Like a homeopathic remedy, it dilutes the core of the scientific enterprise, which has achieved its successes by holding doubt as a virtue and faith as a vice.

And by doing this it also balks and confuses the public understanding of science and of thinking in general. It obscures the fact that “faith” is not a useful tool for finding things out.

…although science and religion are said to be “different ways of knowing”, religion isn’t really a way of knowing anything – it’s a way of believing what you’d like to be true. Faith has never vouchsafed us a single truth about the universe.

And the “different ways of knowing” claim, again, is a snare and a delusion for people in general. It’s the wrong kind of “framing”…

A turning point in the god wars

Apr 6th, 2011 11:34 am | By

Mark Vernon is excited that Martin Rees won the Templeton Prize. He sees it as deliberate revenge for something Richard Dawkins said.

Last year, Dawkins published an ugly outburst against the softly spoken astronomer, calling him a “compliant Quisling” because of his views on religion. And now, Rees has seemingly hit back. He has accepted the 2011 Templeton prize, awarded for making an exceptional contribution to investigating life’s spiritual dimension. It is worth an incongruous $1m.

Funny kind of hitting back – it’s not as if Rees awarded himself the prize. It’s also not as if accepting the prize is a way to rebut what Dawkins said. As a matter of fact, it’s more like agreement than rebuttal. Here’s what Dawkins said:

The US National Academy of Sciences has brought ignominy on itself by agreeing to host the announcement of the 2010 Templeton Prize. This is exactly the kind of thing Templeton is ceaselessly angling for – recognition among real scientists – and they use their money shamelessly to satisfy their doomed craving for scientific respectability. They tried it on with the Royal Society of London, and they seem to have found a compliant Quisling in the current President, Martin Rees, who, though not religious himself, is a fervent ‘believer in belief’.

The claim is that Rees is a Quisling for helping Templeton by implicitly endorsing it. Accepting its prize is more of that, so it’s not much of a “hitting back.” You could say it’s a “yes I am and what about it?” but that’s different.

Anyway, Vernon’s real point, of course, is the usual – Dawkins bad, boring, gnu, harsh; Rees good, exciting, un-gnu, mild; atheism bad, religion good, muddled chat about the two meeting in the middle best of all.

The Royal Society lent its prestige to the Templeton Foundation by hosting events sponsored by the fund, which supports a variety of projects investigating the science of wellbeing and faith.

The wut? Wut science? But right: that’s the point: the RS gave the TF prestige by hosting events sponsored by the fund which pretends that science and “faith” can “enrich” each other.

Dawkins and Rees differ markedly on the tone with which the debate between science and religion should be conducted. Dawkins devotes his talents and resources to challenging, questioning and mocking faith. Rees, on the other hand, though an atheist, values the legacy sustained by the church and other faith traditions.

So, Dawkins is evil and Rees is good.

But if [Rees] is modest about what can be achieved for religious belief by science, he insists that scientists should not stray into theological territory that they don’t understand.

Does he insist that theologians should not stray into scientific territory that they don’t understand? Does Vernon? Does Templeton? No, of course not. From that direction it’s all about “enrichment”; it’s only scientists who are kicked off the grass.

…with Rees’s acceptance, the substantial resources of the Templeton Foundation have, in effect, been welcomed at the heart of the British scientific establishment. That such a highly regarded figure has received its premier prize will make it that little bit harder for Dawkins to sustain respect amongst his peers for his crusade against religion.

Or it will make it that little bit harder for his peers to ignore what the Templeton Foundation is doing. That’s at least as likely as Vernon’s dreamy prediction.

When the cultural history of our times comes to be written, Templeton 2011 could be mentioned, at least in a footnote, as marking a turning point in the “God wars”. The power of voices like that of Dawkins and Sam Harris – who will be on the British stage next week – may actually have peaked, and now be on the wane.

Could be. Yup. Maybe. It’s possible. You never know.

Then again, maybe not.

Strange boatfellows

Apr 5th, 2011 5:28 pm | By

Anthony Grayling is not an enemy of new or gnu atheism, though I suspect some people would like to shoulder him into that category. He won’t be shouldered though. He’s very polite about it, but he won’t be shouldered.

The little jokes and kindly bearing can make Grayling sound quite benignly jovial about religion at times, as he chuckles away about “men in dresses” and “believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden”, and throws out playfully mocking asides such as, “You can see we no longer really believe in God, because of all the CCTV cameras keeping watch on us.” But when I suggest that he sounds less enraged than amused by religion, he says quickly: “Well, it does make me angry, because it causes a great deal of harm and unhappiness.”

He spotted the attempt at shouldering, you see, so he replied quickly.

…we have to try to persuade society as a whole to recognise that religious groups are self-constituted interest groups; they exist to promote their point of view. Now, in a liberal democracy they have every right to do so. But they have no greater right than anybody else, any political party or Women’s Institute or trade union. But for historical reasons they have massively overinflated influence – faith-based schools, religious broadcasting, bishops in the House of Lords, the presence of religion at every public event. We’ve got to push it back to its right size.

Not very anti-gnu, that. On the contrary.

it wasn’t the atheists, according to Grayling, who provoked the confrontation. “The reason why it’s become a big issue is that religions have turned the volume up, because they’re on the back foot. The hold of religion is weakening, definitely, and diminishing in numbers. The reason why there’s such a furore about it is that the cornered animal, the loser, starts making a big noise.”Even if this is true, however, the atheist movement has been accused of shooting itself in the foot by adopting a tone so militant as to alienate potential supporters, and fortify the religious lobby. I ask Grayling if he thinks there is any truth in the charge, and he listens patiently and politely to the question, but then dismisses it with a shake of the head.

“Well, firstly, I think the charges of militancy and fundamentalism of course come from our opponents, the theists. My rejoinder is to say when the boot was on their foot they burned us at the stake. All we’re doing is speaking very frankly and bluntly and they don’t like it,” he laughs. “So we speak frankly and bluntly, and the respect agenda is now gone, they can no longer float behind the diaphanous veil – ‘Ooh, I have faith so you mustn’t offend me’. So they don’t like the blunt talking. But we’re not burning them at the stake. They’ve got to remember that when it was the other way around it was a much more serious matter.

“And besides, really,” he adds with a withering little laugh, “how can you be a militant atheist? How can you be militant non-stamp collector? This is really what it comes down to. You just don’t collect stamps. So how can you be a fundamentalist non-stamp collector? It’s like sleeping furiously. It’s just wrong.”

Now the odd thing is that yesterday on Facebook (one does find out some interesting things via Facebook, there’s no denying it) the Institute for Science and Human Values flagged up a cruise next October with guest speaker…Anthony Grayling. The ISHV is very very very hostile to “militant” atheists. Several of its founding members spend a remarkable amount of time saying how hostile they are to “militant” atheists. I’m wondering if that’s going to turn out to be a rather tense cruise.

Literary criticism

Apr 5th, 2011 4:20 pm | By

Just for completeness, or pedantry.

You are simply hosting the Gnu atheist admirathon. No wonder B&W has been disowned by more rational voices.

Which more rational voices? Wally Smith? Chris Mooney? Tom Johnson? Josh R? Steph the Pixie?

Do you really think it’s the Feast of Reason?

Of course not. Did I ever say I did? No.

There is nothing any longer on B&W worth reading that isn’t cut from the same cloth.

Really? Not Leo Igwe? Not Allen Esterson? Not Phil Molé? Not Franco Henwood?

Sorry; I just don’t buy it. Even if you hate the blog part of B&W, there is plenty that’s worth reading.

It’s a hornet’s nest to any disagreement.

Mirror. Look in it.

Your readers aren’t the least bit interested in civil discourse: when challenged they revert to the same tropes, and when that fails, invoke the myth that atheists have been persecuted historically. It is pure crap, it is untrue, and it really deserves to be outed.

I think the reality is that many of the people who read B&W aren’t very interested in lectures on civil discourse from you at present, because you have been throwing around insults as if you had to use up your stock before midnight. And if you think atheists are not stigmatized, you’re not even listening to yourself, let alone the rest of the commentariat.

 And why so brave–did they talk to you to talk back to Hoffmann and show some spine? Just asking?

No. Just answering.

No, Ophelia: B^W is just a sounding board for like-minded hard atheist opinion.

See above.

There are no butterflies there anymore just gasbags like the seminally under-qualified Eric McDonald and clowns like PZ Myers, who could benefit from a reading comprehension course with an emphasis on analogies. As I recall, Myers was lambasted as such at last year’s CFI 30th, so why don’t we say we are dealing with an atheist fringe that threatens always squandering its capital on its worst instincts?

This is civil discourse is it?

Bishops agree

Apr 5th, 2011 3:12 pm | By

The headline on this article originally read

Bishops agree sex abuse rules

Just what we’ve always said!

Have you ever studied any world history?

Apr 5th, 2011 12:39 pm | By

Salman Rushdie thinks it’s funny, Russell Banks thinks it’s funny; I think it’s funny too. (So that means I’m as cool as Salman Rushdie and Russell Banks, right? Sure.)

Anyway. I thought this particular bit would speak to us today.

And he asks, “Kelly, have you ever studied any world history?,” and I’m, like, “Excuse me, but I happen to be wearing an imported Italian cashmere sweater.”
I’m totally stealing that.

What is this, High Noon?

Apr 4th, 2011 12:34 pm | By

I was going to ignore it, but no one else is, so I’ll just say…I too dissent. I disagree with most of Bloody Fools.

Especially items like

As to Myers, despite the development of a blasphemy fan club and admiration for the cowardly use of free expression rights in the safe haven of Morris, Minnesota, the only serious “threat” came from Catholic League president Bill Donahue.

The cowardly use of free expression rights? I can’t even begin to make sense of that. I must do the same thing myself every day, nearly every hour. I’m not likely to be murdered for saying what I think here in Seattle, so I’m cowardly for saying it?

No; I don’t understand, and what I do understand I don’t like. I don’t like the theme of atheist-bashing.

PZ comments.

Jerry comments.

Eric comments.

All cowards are they? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think we have to be under a death threat to earn the right to say what we think without being called cowards.

“Protecting faith and freedom”

Apr 4th, 2011 12:15 pm | By

Oh no you don’t.

I’ve already said I think Rev Jones is a bad man. He’s no ally or comrade of mine. In his world I would be a lifelong domestic servant with no vote no voice no views no rights, so even without his dramatic performances, he would be no comrade of mine.

But that’s my reasoned choice; it’s not the law of the land. “Interfaith Alliance” please note.

Washington, DC – Interfaith alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issues the following statement in response to the killings of UN Workers in Afghanistan.

…this violence is a response, unacceptable as it may be, to the burning of a Qur’an in Florida last month by a local pastor. The disrespect he has shown for the Muslim faith has now reflected on the rest of us and has led to the worst possible outcome.

We as a nation must do more to make clear that bigoted rhetoric and action against the Muslim faith will not be tolerated and does not represent what is in the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans.

Oh no we must not. We must do no such thing. What Gaddy chooses to call “bigoted rhetoric” against Islam is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, and even “interfaith alliances” don’t get to suppress it. We are allowed to criticize Islam, even harshly, and no interfaith boffin gets to stop us.

Offending culture, religion, traditions=murder

Apr 3rd, 2011 11:47 am | By

Staffan de Mistura is nuts. He’s barking.

…the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama), Staffan de Mistura, said during a visit to Mazar-e Sharif that the only person who could be blamed for the violence was the American pastor.

“I don’t think we should be blaming any Afghan. We should be blaming the person who produced the news – the one who burned the Koran. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from offending culture, religion, traditions.”

The only person who could be blamed. Not the people who did the actual killing, with guns; only the guy who made a point of pissing them off.


The Tantamounts

Apr 3rd, 2011 10:24 am | By

Isn’t there a literary character, or family, called Tantamount? Did I imagine that?

I’m thinking it’s from someone like Aldous Huxley or Evelyn Waugh. Anthony Powell? Mervyn Peake?

It started when Paula Kirby said on Facebook yesterday that some BBC presenter had said something was of “tantamount importance.” Groans all around. But then I started getting this itch inside the head…Margot Tantamount? Charles Tantamount? Tantamount Hall?

Google has been no help, so maybe I did imagine it. Anyone?

Does god hate women?

Apr 3rd, 2011 10:18 am | By
Does god hate women?

These guys certainly think so.

A student at an Islamic school in Bangladesh has been shot dead and at least 30 others injured during a demonstration against women’s rights.

The protesters were marching through the south-western town of Jessore against moves by the government to ensure equal property rights for women…

Under Bangladeshi law, a woman normally inherits half as much as her brother.

Because god wants it that way, which we know, because god said so in this book we are holding aloft while screaming in rage.

Women who would otherwise have been housewives

Apr 1st, 2011 3:24 pm | By

Oh good grief.

[David] Willetts blamed the entry of women into the workplace and universities for the lack of progress for men.

“Feminism trumped egalitarianism,” he said, adding that women who would otherwise have been housewives had taken university places and well-paid jobs that could have gone to ambitious working-class men.

Yes, and working-class men who would otherwise have been miners had taken university places and well-paid jobs that could have gone to ambitious women. What about it?

Everybody could always have been and done something else; so what? It’s no more inevitable or Right or How Things Ought to Be that women “are” housewives than it is that working-class men “are” miners. The university places and well-paid jobs don’t somehow belong to men, and women aren’t stealing them if they try to get them too.

Women who would otherwise have been housewives would have been housewives because things were rigged against them. That’s what that “otherwise” is pointing at. Willetts is thinking back to a time when it was just taken for granted that women would “be” housewives and that they would not “be” anything else, especially not anything demanding brains and hard work, and he’s thinking of it as if it were a natural or default state which we have now weirdly departed from, with the result that women are grabbing jobs that should have gone to men.

It looks to me as if David Willetts grabbed a job that should have gone to someone who doesn’t think that way.

Friday Friday

Apr 1st, 2011 12:46 pm | By

Watch out for Fridays. Maybe stay home on Fridays, with the doors locked and barred and sheets of iron over the windows. At least, if you live somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan, do that.

Thousands of demonstrators angered over the burning of a Koran in Florida mobbed offices of the United Nations in northern Afghanistan on Friday, overrunning the compound and killing at least seven foreign staff workers, according to Afghan officials…The incident began when thousands of protesters poured out of the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif after Friday prayers and attacked the nearby headquarters of the United Nations.

Correlation is not causation, but when thousands of angry men rush out of a mosque after Friday prayers and attack a nearby UN headquarters, causation seems a pretty safe bet.

The crowd, which he estimated at 20,000, overwhelmed police forces and the United Nations security guards, and the weapons they used in the attack may have been those they seized from the United Nations guards.

Funny kind of “prayers,” too, if the correlation is indeed causation. Funny kind of “prayers” that can prompt twenty thousand men (yes men – they don’t let women join in) to go on a violent rampage and kill some random innocent people.

Mr. Ahmadzai, the police spokesman, said the demonstrators were angry about the burning of the Koran at the church of Pastor Terry Jones on Mar. 20.

Except it’s not actually “the” Koran that was burnt. Jones didn’t cause the Koran to disappear from the face of the earth. It was one copy out of many millions. It was a calculated insult, and that is all. It was not a felony, much less a capital crime, and a mob in Afghanistan is not an appropriate substitute for a Florida cop in any case.

Shut up your doors on Fridays.

Another problem solved

Apr 1st, 2011 11:25 am | By

What a relief: it turns out that religious schools don’t exclude after all. Whew!

The Catholic school accommodates plenty of non-Catholic children whose parents are often African Christians who choose to send their kids to a school with a specifically religious ethos.

In other words, they find a denominational school, even if it is not of their own denomination, more congenial than a non-denominational or a multi-denominational school.

This is an absolutely key point. It blows out of the water the assumption that denominational schools somehow ‘exclude’ anyone not of their own denomination.

Ohhhhhh, I see. I was confused all this time. I thought “exclusion” could apply to students of other religions as well as other denominations, and to students of no religion at all at all. But it turns out that’s wrong and the only issue is that a school of one denomination might exclude students of a different denomination and David Quinn knows of one where it doesn’t work that way, he guesses, as far as he knows, so there’s no problem with churchy schools and everything is copacetic.

A cynic might say oh really? So a Catholic school doesn’t exclude children from Muslim backgrounds? Or Protestant ones? Or secular or atheist ones? But decent people don’t care what a cynic might say, so let’s rejoice to know that denominational schools are a wonderful brilliant great terrific perfect idea.

The Godly are always there in the wings

Mar 31st, 2011 4:53 pm | By

Howard Jacobson is cautious about revolutionary elation.

Let’s not get too carried away by the secular nature of the revolutionary zeal engulfing the Middle East right now: the Godly are always there in the wings, waiting for the hour in which they can claim the victory as theirs and restore tyranny, only in their image. Maybe it won’t happen this time – I doubt it, listening to protesters saying they don’t mind what comes next, so long as the process is democratic, as though a democratically elected theocracy is somehow better than any other kind.

Really. I do wish people would get that straight.

Much has been made over the last weeks of the youthful passion of the demonstrators, tweeting for liberty. Here, two of the most terrible illusions of our time are yoked together. To the fallacy that the opinions of the young are worth attending to because they are not the opinions of the old is joined the fallacy that the the internet, because it is ungovernable, is bound to be a positive instrument for good.

 Or to put it another way, theocrats also know how to tweet.

The uses of leisure

Mar 30th, 2011 3:45 pm | By

As Lauryn Oates points out, it’s good that Afghanistan is so happy and prosperous that its President can afford to pay attention to the elegant details of life.

The deputy governor of Helmand province has been sacked for organising a concert that featured female performers without headscarves.

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai took the action against Abdul Satar Mirzakwal after tribal elders complained that it was inappropriate.

Karzai himself was sufficiently at leisure to fire a deputy governor for allowing two women to sing at a concert without bags over their heads.

And while we’re on the subject, notice the typical craven way the BBC puts it – “without headscarves.” Notice what an official says a few paragraphs down -

“Women do not appear in public without wearing a burka and niqab in an Islamic country like Afghanistan,” one official, who wished to remain unnamed, said.

Burka and niqab is not the same as a headscarf! Burka and niqab is a full-body fabric sack with a thick lattice in front of the eyes. A scarf covers the hair; hijab covers the hair and neck; burka and niqab covers everything. Let’s not be euphemistic.

Here come the resonant bodies

Mar 30th, 2011 12:48 pm | By

The University of British Columbia has a Theory Workshop. No really; it does.

This month’s was a Derrida one. Coming up in April there will be a Deleuze one. It looks way good.

Most of us who draw from, and aim to produce, critical theory set out to make analytical interventions in the making of political transformations. This is, after all, what sets critical theory apart from mainstream theory. The ongoing wave of revolutionary unrest in North Africa and the Middle-East provides us with an opportunity and a challenge, both of which are theoretical as well as political: to put the tool kits of our conceptual assemblages to the test and re-invent and expand our intellectual horizons in response to novel political-historical configurations. In this workshop, we will explore and debate the political dimensions of the so-called “affective turn” in the humanities in the past decade. In particular, we will examine Spinoza’s concept of “affect” together with that of “resonance,” which a number of authors (including myself) are beginning to explore to understand the bodily, spatial, temporal, and affective forces that are currently transforming a central geopolitical node of global imperial power. My overall aim, in short, will be to debate the triad “affect, resonance, revolution” both conceptually and in connection with actual political terrains.

Isn’t that just a great way to make analytical interventions in the making of political transformations? Don’t you think the people of Egypt will be thrilled and grateful to see the interventions appear over the brow of the hill?

There’s a blog about it too. It’s a big intervention.

Resonance is an intensely bodily, spatial, political affair, materialized in the masses of bodies coming together in the streets of Egyptian cities in the past thirteen days, clashing with the police, temporarily dispersed by teargas and bullets, and regrouping again like an relentless swarm to reclaim the streets, push the police back, and saturate space with a collective effervescence. Resonance is what gives life to this human rhizome and the source of its power.

I think the idea is that when a lot of people get together, you have a crowd, and then sometimes things happen.

Everybody feels the resonance reverberating from Egypt and is trying to make sense of it, to name it. But the words seem inadequate, partial, incomplete: enthusiasm, energy, passion, anger, contagion, electrifying, domino effect. These terms name features of resonance but miss its salience as a physical, affective, political force made up of living bodies. Those who know it best, if intuitively, are the bodies that produce it in the streets.

Words are inadequate, so you need a Theorist to come up with better ones, like “bodies” for “people,” because that’s so…empowering. Do I have it right?

Do women hate god?

Mar 29th, 2011 4:50 pm | By

Kristin Aune brings the good news. She and a colleague surveyed “nearly 1,300 British feminists” and guess what?

The results show that, when compared with the general female population, feminists are much less likely to be religious, but a little more likely to be interested in alternative or non-institutional kinds of spirituality.

That’s a relief, isn’t it? Much less likely to be religious but oh whew, a little more likely to be “spiritual.” At least they’re not all hopelessly atheistic and bad.

[Pat] Robertson was worried that feminism was challenging traditional Christian values – at least, values he considered Christian. Many liberals and feminists, concerned about the rise of fundamentalism and its erosion of women’s rights, conclude similarly that feminism and religion have little in common. As Cath Elliott put it:

Whether it’s one of the world’s major faiths or an off-the-wall cult, religion means one thing and one thing only for those women unfortunate enough to get caught up in it: oppression. It’s the patriarchy made manifest, male-dominated, set up by men to protect and perpetuate their power.

Well said. At least I think so, but Aune doesn’t.

Sidestepping the arguments about whether or not religion is irredeemably oppressive to women (Christina Odone has refuted Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom’s recent claim that it is), it’s important to ask why feminists think like this.

Yes but before we do that, let’s pause over that claim about Odone. Did she refute our claim (we didn’t make that claim, in fact, but it’s perhaps close enough)? No; she disagreed with some of it, but that’s not refuting it. Besides, Odone of course was reviewing our book from the point of view of a dogmatic Catholic, which is no doubt why the Observer wanted her to be the one to review it. She was never going to agree with most of it, was she.

Second, feminism’s intellectual public voice has largely been a secular one. As the philosopher Rosi Braidotti has argued, European feminists are heirs to the Enlightenment rationalistic critique of religion, and socialist feminism (with its dismissal of religion) was one of the major strands of British feminism in the late 1960s and 1970s. Even today, feminist academics tend to dismiss religion as unimportant and not worth of studying. It is likely that this secularism has influenced today’s feminists, perhaps without them noticing. (Whether this secularism has much to offer the millions of women who are, by socialisation or choice, religious, is a prescient issue that is being raised especially by postcolonial critics.)

Yes, postcolonial critics, who see (or claim to see) universal rights and egalitarianism as a narsty colonialist plot. I’ll stick with the Enlightenment “rationalistic” critique of religion.

An interlude

Mar 29th, 2011 11:42 am | By

Oh my – this is funny – tragic but funny. Aspiring author self-destructs in public. Is urged to stop self-destructing. Continues self-destruction process. Tragic…I can’t wait to read the rest.

Experience required

Mar 28th, 2011 10:04 am | By

Nir Rosen was hired by the London School of Economics. Rosen is ”the free-lance journalist who gained infamy and lost an NYU fellowship after celebrating via Twitter the sexual assault on Lara Logan and wishing the same on Anderson Cooper.”

The Evening Standard reports

Mr Rosen was forced to resign in disgrace from New York University last month after making fun of CBS correspondent Lara Logan, who was stripped, beaten up and molested by a baying mob while covering the Egyptian revolution. He admitted his career was ruined after writing a series of comments on Twitter about Ms Logan, saying she was “probably just groped like thousands of other women”.

But this weekend he announced he will start work at the LSE, and is expected to be paid around £50,000.

One LSE source said: “It’s an unbelievable appointment. You’d think these people would have learned their lesson by now, but all they seem to want to do is rehabilitate highly offensive individuals.”

Nick Cohen phoned the LSE press office. He reported their conversation on Facebook:

“Does he have any academic credentials?”

“No but his war reporting experience is condsidered useful.”

“You mean his experience of justifying the rape of women correspondents?”

“I am not going to answer that.” Hangs up.

Rosen has now resigned. You might think Nick did his bit to help; I couldn’t possibly comment.