All entries by this author

Science Is Not a Democracy *

May 12th, 2004 | Filed by

Journalists report ‘both sides’ but when the sides are not equal, that can distort.… Read the rest

Dembski’s Mathematical Achievements *

May 12th, 2004 | Filed by

Sparse output for a research mathematician, few citations; ‘written in jello.’… Read the rest

Whither the Arts

May 11th, 2004 9:40 pm | By

Art, shmart. Oh dear, I’ve gone all philistine – but people do talk such nonsense about ‘art’ sometimes. Here’s some nonsense on stilts – a lecture by Helen Vendler.

I want to propose that the humanities should take, as their central objects of study, not the texts of historians or philosophers, but the products of aesthetic endeavor: architecture, art, dance, music, literature, theater, and so on. After all, it is by their arts that cultures are principally remembered. For every person who has read a Platonic dialogue, there are probably ten who have seen a Greek marble in a museum, or if not a Greek marble, at least a Roman copy, or if not a Roman copy, at least a

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Zimbardo and Milgram *

May 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Sadistic urges are not as inaccessible as we would like. … Read the rest

Monsanto abandons GM project *

May 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Activists celebrate. Starving millions not so pleased.… Read the rest

Placebo Hospital to Close *

May 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Oh dear.… Read the rest


May 11th, 2004 3:03 am | By

One or two commenters have wondered where I was getting all this ‘Freud was wrong’ stuff, so I thought I would offer a small sample. There is an interesting article on Frederick Crews on Freud, and on Freudianism in general, for example.

One tip off to the pseudoscientific nature of psychoanalysis is to describe its institutional structure. In a real science there are no central organizations that function to ensure doctrinal conformity, expel those who deviate from the accepted truth, and present a united front to the world. It has long been apparent to observers, however, that this is exactly what psychoanalysis has done and continues to do…Unlike a real science, there is a continuing role for Freud’s writings as

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Learning From Error

May 10th, 2004 7:03 pm | By

Questions arose the other day about whether there is any point in discussing whether someone – in particular, Freud – was wrong or not. Is there anything to be gained by looking at errors, mistakes, delusions, wrong directions. I certainly think there is. I think one can learn an enormous amount by studying inquiry that goes wrong, in all sorts of fields. One can learn about epistemolgy, psychology, how evidence interacts with theory and how theory interacts with evidence, how preconceptions and confirmation bias and hopes and wishes can confuse matters. One can learn and re-learn how difficult it can be (how impossible it can be until new instruments are invented) to tell what is really going on.

I found … Read the rest

Politics Meets Science – and Wins *

May 10th, 2004 | Filed by

Some decisions should be made by peer-review, not politicians.… Read the rest

From ‘I Dunno’ to ‘I’ll Ask Jesus’ *

May 10th, 2004 | Filed by

Why choose stupidity? Why ask why?… Read the rest

They Tidy Up, Your Mum and Dad *

May 10th, 2004 | Filed by

John Fowles’ diary reveals a bad case of Holden Caulfield syndrome.… Read the rest

Atheism is as American as Cherry Pie *

May 9th, 2004 | Filed by

Christopher Hitchens reads Susan Jacoby on the hidden history of secular America.… Read the rest

Freedom, Freedom, Freedom

May 9th, 2004 12:06 am | By

It’s only a ruddy parking ticket.

But seriously. Speaking of Burke and Kirk, and the joys of tradition and custom…I thought the answer I got to my question at the Chronicle’s colloquy was not all that satisfying. Possibly the fault of my question. I took seriously the instruction to be brief, so my question was pretty simple-minded – then I saw that other people asked very long questions, and I gnashed my teeth in impotent fury. But all the same, I did find the answer a bit off the mark.

A widespread hostility exists, especially among those of a liberal or libertarian orientation, toward any body of thought that seeks to impose restraints upon the will of either individuals or

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Lateral Promotion

May 8th, 2004 7:36 pm | By

Okay, let’s discuss this question of whether Freud is a philosopher, and whether it matters. Should we just all agree to call him a philosopher whether he is one or not because hey who cares? If so, why? If not, why not?

For one thing there is the question of what words mean. Is it useful for them to have such a broad meaning and application that they mean nothing? Or is it more useful for them to have a narrower, more precise meaning, so that we know what we’re talking about when we use them and so that we have some chance of talking about roughly the same thing as opposed to thinking we’re talking about roughly the same … Read the rest

Mistreatment of Prisoners Called Routine in U.S. *

May 8th, 2004 | Filed by

Humiliation, sex slavery, beatings not as rare as they might be.… Read the rest

Why Would Icarus Want to be the Ploughman? *

May 8th, 2004 | Filed by

Roger Scruton admires rural silence, settling, grunts, tradition. Ecch.… Read the rest


May 7th, 2004 | By

Fashionable Nonsense, as we have observed before, is a Hydra with many heads, a book with many chapters, a motel with many rooms, a folder with many files. There is, in short, no end to it. But in the great thronging crowd-scene that is Fashionable Nonsense, there is one exemplar that stands out like Abe Lincoln addressing the Munchkins. Freud and psychoanalysis are in a class by themselves for their ability to go on being taken seriously and at face value by otherwise rational intellectuals, in the teeth of all the evidence.

It’s not as if it’s a closely-guarded secret. Jeffrey Masson’s publication of the Freud-Fliess letters in 1985, for example, got a lot of attention and sparked much controversy … Read the rest

So It’s Actually Not Paranoia to Fear ‘Pope-Rule’ *

May 7th, 2004 | Filed by

Bishops are leaning on Kerry to oppose abortion rights.… Read the rest

Kant and Epicurus Were a Bit Off the Mark *

May 7th, 2004 | Filed by

Simon Blackburn investigates lust; Hobbes calls it a delight of the mind.… Read the rest

The TLS Reviews the ‘Rapture’ Series *

May 7th, 2004 | Filed by

The UN as antichrist, superheated blood making people explode – such fun.… Read the rest