All entries by this author

Group Think

Nov 4th, 2003 9:42 pm | By

The Ruddick essay I discussed in the last N&C was published, as I mentioned, in November 2001, but it was revived and discussed again on several blogs last July. This comment or brief essay by Timothy Burke is particularly interesting.

It’s noticeable what a lot of words there are in both pieces that have to do with social pressure, conformity and group-think. From Ruddick’s article: accusations; how inhibiting these tensions can become; the necessity of adhering to the critical norms of the moment; dominant thinking; rules that I thought were very limiting; disgrace; I was still afraid I’d be attacked; this fear of attack can be utterly compelling; a caution bordering on ventriloquism; disciplinary taboos on certain words and ideals; … Read the rest

Department of Jumping to Conclusions *

Nov 4th, 2003 | Filed by

White guys at university binge-drink because they’re so ashamed of not being diverse, right?… Read the rest

Is it Protest or Trespass? *

Nov 4th, 2003 | Filed by

‘I was protecting the environment’ is not a defence, high court rules.… Read the rest

‘Philosophers Have Beards’ – Really? All of Them? *

Nov 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

TV could be an excellent medium for popularizing philosophy, but if it always has to be visually entrancing, well…… Read the rest

Dictionary of Life Has Two Billion Entries *

Nov 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

The first letter is G, the two billionth is T.… Read the rest

Royals are Cross at Their Runaway Slave *

Nov 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

What it’s like to work for people who can’t fasten their own seat belts or recognize servants as human.… Read the rest

Adam Swift Defends Diane Abbott *

Nov 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

How political principles and personal choices fit together matters.… Read the rest

Professional Deformation

Nov 2nd, 2003 1:27 am | By

There is a fascinating article about the discontents of professionalization here. It was written shortly after September 11, but what it says is still of interest. I don’t agree with absolutely all of it, but what of that; I do with most.

Readers in a variety of fields may identify with the experience of a soon-to-be Ph.D. in English, someone who has always worked hard and played by the rules intellectually, who told me that since the terrorist attacks, she’s derived less comfort than she expected from working on her dissertation. She also confessed that she can’t blame the people who look at our discipline from the outside and say, “If you’re not getting at anything that sustains people, what’s

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Science, History and the Hindutva Brigade

Nov 1st, 2003 8:15 pm | By

Yesterday a reader and fan of B&W’s emailed me to express her admiration of Meera Nanda’s new article, and her work in general. She also alerted me to another example of scholarship under attack by the Hindutva brigade. I’m extremely glad she did: I was entirely unaware of the campaign against the historian Romila Thapar. Read about it here and here. This whole subject is immensely depressing and dispiritng – it always is dispiriting to see humans determinedly marching backwards, and patting themselves on the back for doing it.

While 72-year-old Thapar’s appointment was greeted with applause by serious students of history, little did anyone realise that acolytes of the Hindutva brand of politics, primarily those in the Indian

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Romila Thapar *

Nov 1st, 2003 | Filed by

Campaign against historian by the Hindutva brigade.… Read the rest

MMR Debate Turns Nasty *

Nov 1st, 2003 | Filed by

They were once colleagues. Now they’re bickering.… Read the rest

Open Letter to HM Government *

Oct 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Philip Stott publishes the full letter from scientists on bad media coverage of the GM debate.… Read the rest

No Level Playing Field For GM Crops Debate *

Oct 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Scientists furious that UK government allowed the GM crops debate to be hijacked by the antis.… Read the rest

Lemmings Not Lemmings At All *

Oct 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Apparently it’s not true that they are really depressed.… Read the rest

Neurotic Brits Risk Measles Epidemic *

Oct 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Take-up of MMR jab remains low despite ‘unequivocal evidence’ that it is not a risk factor for autism.… Read the rest

Academic Boycott of Israel – Part 2 *

Oct 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Oxford prof suspended for rejecting Israeli student on the grounds of his nationality.… Read the rest

Dratted Ciabatta-Munchers

Oct 30th, 2003 8:33 pm | By

Here is another installment in the on-going story of religious people demanding immunity from criticism for religion and religious people. This one is more irritating than most because so full of heavy-handed sneering (I like my sneering to be done with a light touch, thank you). Chattering classes, bien pensants, choking on their ciabatta – alliterative but crude. And then there’s the ever-popular rhetorical move of deciding what people’s motives are.

Why is baiting Christians a sport among the so-called bien pensants? Because the bien pensants most enjoy and benefit from the status quo, and sense, in the Christian, a subversive element who seeks to destroy their lifestyle.

Err – no. I for one don’t ‘bait’ Christians, but I … Read the rest

Where in the Brain is the Self? *

Oct 30th, 2003 | Filed by

Damage to the brain can cause some odd experiences of self, a neurologist explains.… Read the rest

Amartya Sen on Being More Than One Thing *

Oct 30th, 2003 | Filed by

We’re not just Western or Hindu or Muslim.… Read the rest

Kenan Malik Reads Meera Nanda *

Oct 30th, 2003 | Filed by

Nanda is ‘particularly astute in demonstrating the reactionary consequences of anti-science relativism for the peoples of the Third World.’… Read the rest