All entries by this author

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Dec 27th, 2003 9:00 pm | By

Part of what is so grotesque about Lieberman’s tactic (and I realise it is indeed a tactic, and part of a political campaign, and that people will say whatever they think will work in those situations [which is one of the more irritating and destructive aspects of democracy] and so in a sense perhaps not to be taken too literally – but then again if the candidate thinks the tactic will work, perhaps that makes it still worth examining) is the fact that Dean hasn’t exactly been campaigning as an atheist. Has he? Not that I’m aware of. No, it’s just that he ‘has run a steadfastly secular campaign’ as the Times put it.

So he’s not even allowed to … Read the rest

Asymmetry Again

Dec 27th, 2003 7:50 pm | By

A couple of our readers are cross with Dawkins and with me for being blunt about religion, or perhaps for oversimplifying it. Of course that’s one of those perennial irregular verb things that I’m always noticing. One of those eye of the beholder things, one of those glass half-full or half-empty things, one of those Well it depends on which way you look at it things. Granted, I did speak bluntly and even rudely – I said as much at the time. But this is part of my point. How odd that hardly anyone rushes to upbraid Lieberman for being rude about atheism or secularism. How odd that there’s such a radical asymmetry in public rhetoric about the whole question, … Read the rest

Future History *

Dec 27th, 2003 | Filed by

History for 2004 from Browning, Keegan, Bullock, Starkey, Waterfield and more.… Read the rest

Science Books in 2004 *

Dec 27th, 2003 | Filed by

The Guardian offers a preview of books from Dawkins, Penrose, Diamond, Dunbar and others.… Read the rest

Richard Dawkins

Dec 26th, 2003 8:57 pm | By

Soapy Joe again. I asked Richard Dawkins to say a few words on the subject, and he kindly obliged. You will see that he’s just as impressed with the seriousness and intellectual depth of our political campaigns as I am:

“The fact that political candidates, even those of education and intelligence like Howard Dean, are obliged to feign religious faith in order to stand a chance of getting elected, makes the United States the laughing stock of the civilized world.”

Richard Dawkins… Read the rest

Soapy Joe is all Wrong

Dec 26th, 2003 8:08 pm | By

Religion on all sides. How it does keep coming up, and how it does shape (and often distort) the debate – for that matter, how it does shape our lives. It’s inescapable, and massively influential, and yet it’s taboo to discuss it honestly. What a bizarre situation.

It’s kindly meant, of course. It’s about protecting people’s feelings and sensitivities. But the trouble is, if we give religion a permanent free pass, it can go ahead and trample on other people’s feelings and sensitivities, not to mention their freedoms and rights and bodies and lives. Religions are the foundation of a lot of the glaring systematic injustices in the world, and the more kindly-meaning people are too polite to say so, … Read the rest

Richard Dawkins at B&W *

Dec 26th, 2003 | Filed by

We asked for a comment on Soapy Joe, and were obliged.… Read the rest

Another Candidate for Jesus *

Dec 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Lieberman scolds Democrats for not godbothering, Dean acquiesces.… Read the rest

The Great Leap Backwards

Dec 26th, 2003 | By David Stanway

Shanghai in January 1993 was hardly the Shanghai it had become a decade later, but most people – including me, a first-time visitor – had an inkling of the great flourish that was to come. It was a freezing Chinese Spring Festival, and although the streets were largely empty and most of the shops shut, one sensed its coiled, irrepressible energy. The flurry of commercial development and the boom in the city’s real estate market would begin later, and the vast, space-age business district of Pudong was still in its infancy, but the city was on its way to becoming the cornerstone of the new “China Century”.

Wandering through the streets, dazed by the cold and looking for breakfast, we … Read the rest

Agenda in Plain View

Dec 25th, 2003 7:51 pm | By

RC makes a good point in a comment on the post below. Guilt by association certainly is a classic Bad Move, one that functions just as the word ‘brown’ does: as an attempt at intimidation via guilt-tripping. Maybe that’s one of the uses of entities like B&W, actually – to make moves like that just a bit less likely to work. That would be a worthy goal. If we could, by just a little, detach inquiry from ideology – maybe we could do some shaming in our turn, but in our case, I hope, by legitimate means and to good effect. If we could get people to realize and notice and accept that saying a given truth-claim is associated with … Read the rest

Who Owns Your Life? *

Dec 25th, 2003 | Filed by

‘New Prohibitionists’ cite brain chemistry to argue against all suicide.… Read the rest

A Bastard Discourse *

Dec 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Psychoanalysis subverts the essence of western rationality.… Read the rest

Questions and Quarrels Over Climate Change *

Dec 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Was the Medieval Warming Period regional or global?… Read the rest

Was There a Medieval Warm Period or Not? *

Dec 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Criticize the hockey stick and some think you have a political agenda.… Read the rest

Which Coercion?

Dec 24th, 2003 7:26 pm | By

The issue of the possible French ban on the hijab or headscarf in public schools raises a lot of interesting questions – also a lot of strong emotions, not to say plain rudeness. There was a discussion of the subject at Crooked Timber a few days ago that was quite interesting at the beginning, but I abandoned it in disgust after being accused of patronizing ‘subdued and voiceless brown women’ one too many times.

But it’s not that simple, obviously – well it’s obvious to me, but clearly not to everyone. That is to say, whatever one thinks about the proposed ban, it’s too simple to say that the ban is exclusively about seeing Muslim women as subdued, voiceless and … Read the rest

Strong Feelings on Both Sides *

Dec 24th, 2003 | Filed by

Some Muslim girls campaign against the hijab, some campaign for it.… Read the rest

Al-Jazeerah: Schroeder Supports Ban for Teachers *

Dec 24th, 2003 | Filed by

German Chancellor opposes headscarf for teachers but not for students.… Read the rest

French Press Reacts to Headscarf Ban *

Dec 24th, 2003 | Filed by

Some papers welcome the move, others think it’s irrelevant.… Read the rest

Top Celebrity Speaks on GM, Nanotechnology *

Dec 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Prince of Wales ‘operates on prejudice, not evidence, but because of his position he is listened to.’… Read the rest

Dictator Kitsch *

Dec 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

How does one reconcile a personality cult with ‘scientific’ Mao Zedong Thought?… Read the rest