All entries by this author

Cass Sunstein on the Precautionary Principle *

Aug 31st, 2005 | Filed by

Status quo bias and the way emotion can overwhelm rational faculties.… Read the rest

Broken Levees Continue to Flood New Orleans *

Aug 31st, 2005 | Filed by

People stranded on roofs, shelters evacuated, roads closed, Biloxi devastated.… Read the rest

Nightmare in New Orleans *

Aug 31st, 2005 | Filed by

Waters rise, 80% of city underwater, break in levee on Lake Pontchartrain.… Read the rest

Polio and ‘Public Figures’

Aug 30th, 2005 8:12 pm | By

Here we have a media watch item. A rather strange one.

I noticed it late yesterday when I posted this item on the polio outbreak in Indonesia (dated today but I saw and posted it yesterday my time – today UK time). I noticed something missing that I was pretty sure I had seen in previous BBC articles on the subject – a paragraph on how the outbreak was thought to have started. Previous articles had, I thought, mentioned the fact that Muslim clerics in norther Nigeria had urged people not to get vaccinated (and not to vaccinate their children – with horrible results) because the vaccine was contaminated in a US plot. That item wasn’t in this latest article. … Read the rest

Can You Say ‘Average’?

Aug 30th, 2005 7:10 pm | By

Oh, come on, Beeb – can’t you write headlines better than that? “‘Men cleverer than women’ claim”? “Academics in the UK claim their research shows that men are more intelligent than women.”? Come on – pull your socks up, or get on your bike, or something.

A study to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology says that men are on average five points ahead on IQ tests.

Hello? That’s not the same thing as saying ‘men are more intelligent than women’? At all? Surely, surely, you know that, if you think about it for five seconds. Think of the stupidest man you know. Now think of the cleverest woman you know. Is he more … Read the rest

Enlightenment or Submission

Aug 30th, 2005 | By

Many people and groups have called (especially, for obvious reasons, recently) for the secularization of Islamic societies, for reform of Islam and Koranic laws, and for less attention and publicity for fundamentalist groups and putative ‘leaders’ and ‘representatives’ like the Muslim Council of Britain, and more for secular and rationalist groups and individuals.

Salman Rushdie for example:

However, this is the same [Iqbal] Sacranie who, in 1989, said that “Death is perhaps too easy” for the author of “The Satanic Verses.” Tony Blair’s decision to knight him and treat him as the acceptable face of “moderate,” “traditional” Islam is either a sign of his government’s penchant for religious appeasement or a demonstration of how limited Blair’s options really are…The

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Waters Rising in New Orleans *

Aug 30th, 2005 | Filed by

Gulf Coast, Mississippi after one of the most devastating storms ever to hit US.… Read the rest

Stupid Headline, Stupid Subhead *

Aug 30th, 2005 | Filed by

‘Men cleverer than women’ – all men cleverer than all women? No. Stupid headline.… Read the rest

Salman Rushdie on Today [audio] *

Aug 30th, 2005 | Filed by

The rise of fundamentalism in Kashmir, religious hatred law, the MCB, ‘faith’ schools.… Read the rest

Indonesia Launches Record Anti-Polio Drive *

Aug 30th, 2005 | Filed by

WHO warns virus could spread to Malaysia, China and the Philippines. … Read the rest

UN Official Accuses Bush Over Condom Policy *

Aug 30th, 2005 | Filed by

Cutting funding for condoms could damage fight against Aids in Uganda.… Read the rest

Republicans Demand Scientists’ Papers *

Aug 30th, 2005 | Filed by

Influential scientists say request for materials going back decades looks like intimidation.… Read the rest

Rights and Conventions

Aug 29th, 2005 10:36 pm | By

Something Norm said today that I’ve been wondering about. I can’t quite figure out how it works…

There’s a sense in which all concepts are social constructs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean – though it sometimes does mean – that what the concepts refer to are merely a matter of convention, of moral and cultural context, or what have you. It is true that some of the rights a person enjoys are a consequence of belonging to a particular community (your right to a British passport), or are relative to a given status she enjoys (as an old age pensioner), or the result of his past actions (as the party to a contract of sale). But there are other rights

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Sense and Sensitivity

Aug 29th, 2005 6:35 pm | By

Galloway’s a funny guy. Maybe not as funny as Pat Robertson (‘I didn’t say “assassinate”!’ ‘Okay I’m sorry, I’m rilly sorry, I was just in a mood that day.’) but still pretty funny. Okay not really funny, more like disgusting, but I get so tired of pointing out how disgusting people are. Still – he is.

Mr Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said TV executives had to be “very sensitive about people’s religion” and if broadcasters did not show sufficient sensitivity they “had to deal with the consequences”. He said: “You have to be aware if you do [offend people’s beliefs] you will get blowback. You should do it very carefully, especially if you are a public

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Daniel Dennett Hunts for the Science of ID *

Aug 29th, 2005 | Filed by

Saying ‘You haven’t explained everything yet’ is not a competing hypothesis. … Read the rest

No Protection, No Justice: Women in Guatemala *

Aug 29th, 2005 | Filed by

Amnesty International: ‘Many women and girls in Guatemala live with gender-based violence.’… Read the rest

‘Death to Bitches’ in Guatemala *

Aug 29th, 2005 | Filed by

Women are murdered and mutilated daily, and thought to deserve it.… Read the rest

Rushdie to Galloway: ‘Is That a Threat?’ *

Aug 29th, 2005 | Filed by

Galloway demanded ‘sensitivity’ about religion, warned of consequences.… Read the rest

Wretched of New Orleans Left to Face Hurricane *

Aug 29th, 2005 | Filed by

The poor, the homeless, the carless queued for shelter.… Read the rest

China Makes Gender Equality National Policy *

Aug 29th, 2005 | Filed by

But it will take more than legislation to change deeply ingrained attitudes towards women.… Read the rest