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A Bastion against Irrationalism

Nov 13th, 2006 | By Robert Wilcocks

Crews, Frederick. 2006. Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays. Emeryville, CA: Shoemaker & Hoard. Pp. 405.
ISBN (10) 1-59376-101-5
ISBN (13) 978-1-59376-101-1.

Freud, Sigmund. 2006. Lettres à Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904. Traduit de l’allemand par Françoise Kahn
et François Robert. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France (Bibliothèque de Psychanalyse). Pp. 763.
ISBN 2-13-054995-0.

The other week my mailbox received the serendipitous joint arrival of — from America — the latest collection of Frederick Crews’s critical essays in book-form, and — from France — the long-awaited and long-delayed uncensored French edition of the complete letters of Freud to Wilhelm Fliess (published in English by Harvard University Press in 1985 and in German by S. Fischer Verlag in Germany in1986). If ever an instance … Read the rest

Who did Einstein’s Mathematics?: A Response to Troemel-Ploetz

Nov 4th, 2006 | By Allen Esterson

In an article in Time magazine in July 2006 Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute and former chairman of CNN, stated that Einstein’s first wife Mileva Marić was a “Serbian physicist who had helped him with the math of his 1905 [special relativity] paper”[1]

From the unequivocal way that this information was presented by Isaacson, readers would be forgiven for assuming that this a straightforward factual statement. Yet this is far from the case. For a start, the mathematics in the 1905 relativity paper was quite elementary: as Jürgen Renn, an editor of the Albert Einstein Collected Papers, observes, “If he had needed help with that kind of mathematics, he would have ended there.”[2] Then there is the … Read the rest

Freud’s Perjuries as ‘Spots on the Sun’

Oct 30th, 2006 | By Frank Cioffi

The following is a condensed extract from an essay titled “Are Freud’s Critics Scurrilous?”, translated and published in Le livre noir de la psychoanalyse (Editions des Arènes).

Sigmund Freud may have been a great man but he was not an honourable one. Freud’s claims to greatness rest on his imaginative and expressive powers; his dishonour arises from his leadership of a movement in whose interests he perjured himself repeatedly.
The most striking fact about responses to documentation of Freud’s perjuries is how often they take the form not of denial but of extenuation.


Here is one example of how this is done. Freud repeatedly put forward as a demonstration … Read the rest

Mass resistance is the other side of mass oppression

Oct 28th, 2006 | By Azar Majedi

In describing women’s conditions in a particular country, one refers either to laws governing that country or to statistics. In this manner, one either exposes the extent of the oppression women suffer, or admires their achievements. With respect to women living under the rule of Islam, it is pure discrimination and oppression, subjugation and state violence. If women are considered second class citizens in many countries, in Islam-ridden countries they are not even considered citizens. They are extensions of men. In fact, according to Islam, the concept of citizen is non-existent. There is a relation between God and religious hierarchy and a collective of right-less, conscious-less men, with women as their slaves. As a matter of fact this is true … Read the rest

Looney American Foundation threatens to sue the Nobel Committee

Oct 23rd, 2006 | By Ra Ravishankar

Background Information: Since last September, Hindutva (Hindu
supremacist) groups have attempted in vain to doctor sixth grade
social science textbooks in California [1]. With the solid backing of
their Indian allies, and aided by a battery of expensive lawyers and
the PR firm Ruder Finn, these groups sought to elide discussion of
caste and sex-based discrimination (in India) in the textbooks [2].
Their efforts were first opposed by a European-American scholar (Michael Witzel,
Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University), and the California State
Board of Education is predominantly European-American, so the Hindutva groups and
their supporters cynically assumed the mantle of an aggrieved minority
[3]. What follows is an (as yet) imaginary account of the developments
following the announcement of
Read the rest

The Shorter History of God

Oct 22nd, 2006 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

First some history. The Hebrew tribes were a violent lot, not just because their literary enemies, like the 3rd century BCE historian Manetho, says they were, but violent even by their own reckoning. From Abraham’s fatwah on the cities of the plain, described gleefully by the author of Genesis (Genesis 19:12-29) as the first victory of Yahweh against his enemies, right down to the final humiliation of the God-forsaken people (their description) and the fall of the southern kingdom of Judaea (586 BCE), the love of war and the smell of blood dominates the Hebrew Bible.

Take for example this little story in the Book of Judges: A certain Levite takes a concubine, who deserts him. Outraged, the Levite drags … Read the rest

The Veil: a Non-Muslim Feminist Perspective

Oct 11th, 2006 | By Helen Gray

Well, everyone knows what Jack straw thinks about women wearing the veil, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Whilst I understand and accept that people like to wear various apparel to show an allegiance to the particular religion they subscribe to, the wearing of the veil overspills the religious and even the cultural arena. The veil demands of a woman an extreme form of modesty which both isolates and subjugates her. Anything that does this to women, be it in the name of religion, culture, or whatever else, is wrong.

It subjugates because one of the many things a veil does is put the responsibility for controlling male sexual desire squarely on a woman’s shoulders. She must cover-up or … Read the rest

On Multiculturalism And Religion – Jesus Doesn’t Morris Dance

Sep 24th, 2006 | By Jonathan Thake

When we think of multiculturalism we tend to think of an educated internationalist outlook: a broad modern palate able to appreciate foods, wines, books, music and art from around the world. We also tend to include religion on that list; but that is a mistake.

Religion is in another category than food, clothes and wine. It is a system of ideas in its own right, and, what is more, it is a system of ideas that stands in absolute opposition to the multicultural principle. Religion is about narrowing options: reducing the amount of reading, reducing the number of competing thoughts, channelling everything towards the one book, the one way, the one lord. When religious people pretend they are multicultural they … Read the rest

Rights Trump Culture and Religion

Sep 11th, 2006 | By Maryam Namazie

Cultural relativism is not only a prescription for inaction and passivity in the face of the oppression of millions of people struggling and resisting in the Middle East and here in the west but is in fact racist in and of itself

Cultural relativism and its more seemingly palatable multiculturalism have lowered standards and redefined values to such depths that not only are all cultures and beliefs deemed equally valid, they seem to have taken on personas of their own blurring the distinction between individuals and beliefs (whether theirs or imputed).

As a result, concepts such as rights, equality, respect and tolerance, which were initially raised vis-à-vis the individual, are now more and more applicable to culture and religion and … Read the rest

Who needs sophistry, anyway?

Sep 7th, 2006 | By Ben Nelson

Scientists and philosophers need sophistry. This article will
show why and how. The argument will need to draw from the history and
philosophy of science of Pierre Duhem, as well as the concepts of
intellectual property and the science of persuasion.

I. A choice of arms.

As you are reading this, you may hear a popping noise. Do not fret: it
is the faint, disquieting sound of science being broken. It is this
tiny bit of irksome vibration that really gives content to the name,
“pop science”. Well-intentioned hands of varying degrees of competence
are to blame for it.

We all know of professional errors. The most recent case that comes to
mind is that of Dr. William Hammesfahr, a … Read the rest

Poseurs of the World Unite

Aug 25th, 2006 | By J. Carter Wood

It’s not every day that you come across an article such as ‘Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism’, which appears in the current issue of the International Journal of Evidence Based Healthcare. No. This is something special.

The article has already taken a rather good (though comparatively gentle) shellacking from Ben Goldacre, he of ‘Bad Science’ fame. Goldacre makes some very trenchant points
regarding the authors’ casual linking of the professional legacy of Archie Cochrane, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, with ‘fascism’. He also ably defends the notion of evidence-based investigation, which, for various reasons, the authors of this ‘scholarly article’ see as an agent of creeping ‘totalitarianism’ affecting the health … Read the rest

Things CNN Will Never Tell You About Religion

Aug 14th, 2006 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

1. That there is no God.

2. That you will not live forever.

3. That Noah’s ark will never be found because it never existed.

4. That Christianity began as a violent first century messianic sect which learned to cope peaceably when its messiah didn’t show up.

5. That most fundamentalists are rather stupid, Muslims and Christians alike.

6. That most evangelical Christians cannot describe what they mean by “inerrant” – speaking of the Bible.

7. That the vast majority of Christians opposed to stem cell research think it means killing babies for their brains.

8. That biblical Israel ceased to exist in 720 BC, lasted for less than two hundred years, and that modern Israel didn’t exist again until … Read the rest

Al-Guardian & the Brotherhood

Jul 25th, 2006 | By David Thompson

In his Guardian columns, Faisal Bodi, news editor of the Islam Channel TV station, has said many strange and wonderful things. In March, during the Abdul Rahman apostasy case, Bodi championed the orthodox punishment for those who leave the Religion of Peace™ – despite its being rather permanent and involving ritual murder: “It is an understandable response from people who cherish the religious basis of their societies to protect them… from the damage that an inferior worldview can wreak.” In a climate of cultural equivalence, it’s somewhat refreshing to hear a Guardian columnist openly refer to an “inferior worldview”. Though I suspect one might disagree with Bodi’s estimation of which worldview is less enlightened.

Taken in isolation, Bodi’s advocacy … Read the rest

Pearse’s “Perfect Little Pigs” or Translating Celsus

Jul 22nd, 2006 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

Since it first appeared on his blogspace in 2002, the most frequently Googled article about me—depressingly—is a piece called “Celsus, Origen and Hoffmann” by a certain freelance Tadler named Roger Pearse. The irritable Mr. Pearse has become in the intervening years a watchful enemy of my work and a sort of unconsecrated bishop in the church of Anglo-Patristic Orthodoxy. So dutiful is his vigilance in this office (by day Mr. Pearse disguises himself as an unassuming computer programmer) that I have occasionally felt remorse at not giving him enough work to watch. This may seem petulance, I know. But I prefer to think of it as anger; and as Aristotle reminds us, “To be angry with the right man, to … Read the rest

Meet the Deity

Jul 18th, 2006 | By Ophelia Benson

Anna was standing on a high bluff admiring the sunset – a particularly spectacular one full of gilded clouds – thinking blissfully of God and gratitude and the beauty of the world, when suddenly the sun seemed to swell and pulse, the sky turned every shade of purple and silver, there was ethereal music, and then an angel appeared next to her. “Beloved servant,” remarked the angel pleasantly, “for that thou art our dedicated and humble servant, and the first woman minister of thy parish, we have chosen thee to have an audience with the deity.”

Anna stared, coloured; the earth seemed to tilt and rock all around her; she planted her feet wide apart and hoped not to fall … Read the rest

Karen Armstrong: Islam’s Hagiographer

Jul 11th, 2006 | By David Thompson

Karen Armstrong has been described as “one of the world’s most provocative and inclusive thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world”. Armstrong’s efforts to be “inclusive” are certainly “provocative”, though generally for reasons that are less than edifying. In 1999, the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles gave Armstrong an award for media “fairness”. What follows might cast light on how warranted that recognition is, and indeed on how the MPAC chooses to define fairness.

In one of her baffling Guardian columns, Armstrong argues that, “It is important to know who our enemies are… By making the disciplined effort to name our enemies correctly, we will learn more about them, and come one step nearer, … Read the rest

An Open Letter to Oriana Fallaci

Jul 11th, 2006 | By Azar Majedi

Dear Oriana Fallaci

As a veteran activist of women’s rights, for liberty and equality, as a first hand victim of political Islam, and a veteran fighter against it, as an atheist who is a staunch believer in a secular state and secular education system, as a woman who has fought against the hejab in any form and shape, as a secularist who has defended the latest French secular law to ban the wearing of any conspicuous religious symbols in public schools, as a campaigner for banning the veil for underage girls and banning religious schools, as a campaigner against honour killings, Sharia courts in Canada, Islamism and Islamic terrorism, as a staunch defender of unconditional freedom of expression and criticism … Read the rest

Einstein’s Wife: A challenge to PBS

Jul 5th, 2006 | By Allen Esterson

In March 2006 I submitted to the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service Ombudsman a complaint about the numerous errors and misconceptions that permeate the PBS Einstein’s Wife website material and associated Lesson Plans purporting to present evidence that Mileva Marić made substantive contributions to (or even co-authored) Einstein’s celebrated 1905 papers on special relativity, the photoelectric effect and Brownian motion. PBS is currently considering the complaint, based on my detailed analyses of the Australian Einstein’s Wife documentary
[1] and of the PBS website material. (See Mileva Marić 1
and Mileva Marić 2.)

Gerald Holton, who played a major role in the inaugurating of the Einstein Archive, is one of several physicists who have concluded on the basis of the documentary … Read the rest

Naturalism and its Discontents

Jun 22nd, 2006 | By Daniel Koffler

What is the difference between science and pseudo-science? The criterion by which our current practices distinguish the two is falsifiability, but what is inherently valuable about falsifiable hypotheses? Presumably, the goal of science is the discovery of truth. If an unfalsifiable method predicted data more reliably than a falsifiable one, shouldn’t we adopt the unfalsifiable method? Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, is untroubled by this puzzle or myriad similar puzzles. Or perhaps he has solved them all. That would at least justify the oracular certainty with which he proclaims, in the first sentence of his choleric review of philosopher Daniel Dennett’s new book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (“The God Genome,” NYT, 2/19/06), … Read the rest

Truth and Consequences at Brigham Young

Jun 15th, 2006 | By Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom

Brigham Young University is in the news at the moment because its philosophy department decided not to renew the contract of an adjunct instructor after he wrote a newspaper editorial in favour of same-sex marriage. The instructor received a letter from the chair of the philosophy department informing him of the decision shortly after his editorial ran in the Salt Lake Tribune. Inside Higher Ed reported, ‘Carri Jenkins, a BYU spokeswoman, said the choice not to rehire Nielsen came from the department, which has the authority to make personnel decisions on part-time faculty. “The department made the decision because of the opinion piece that had been written, and based on the fact that Mr. Nielsen publicly contradicted and opposed … Read the rest