All entries by this author

Women On Top *

Sep 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Girls beat boys just about everywhere.… Read the rest


Sep 16th, 2003 12:32 am | By

It’s interesting how ideas can go off in unexpected directions. Sort of a six degrees of separation thing – it can seem as if any given idea can lead to any other in three or four steps, however remote they may seem at the beginning. I noticed it yesterday, for instance: I started writing my TPM essay thinking it was going to be about one thing, and after the first paragraph found myself talking about something quite different. I started out thinking the idea led into one subject (and it did) but in the writing found that it also led into another, so followed it there instead.

The core idea was that of competing goods. A familiar enough idea: that … Read the rest

Moral Racism *

Sep 15th, 2003 | Filed by

When Other Races kill each other, western pundits blame the scars of colonialism.… Read the rest

What is Lost by Abandonment of Principle *

Sep 15th, 2003 | Filed by

Alan Ryan on Richard Posner’s view of pragmatism and democracy.… Read the rest

Just a Bit More

Sep 14th, 2003 11:36 pm | By

Just a little more about the religion article. Because there really is a lot of nonsense in that piece. I only talked about some of it, and I find there’s another bit I just can’t leave alone, in the last paragraph.

It is often said that science answers “how” questions while religion asks “why”, but that is simplistic. The greater point lies in their scope. Religion, properly conceived, attempts to provide an account of all there is: the most complete narrative that human beings are capable of. Science, by contrast, is – as the British zoologist Sir Peter Medawar put the matter – “the art of the soluble”. It addresses only those questions that it occurs to scientists to ask,

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Lies on the Front Page and the Back *

Sep 14th, 2003 | Filed by

Why do journalists and comedians think they’re better than politicians?… Read the rest

Another Stack of Jumpers

Sep 14th, 2003 1:39 am | By

Oh good, more fuzzy-headed nonsense about religion. There does seem to be an inexhaustible supply of it out there. This one is so full of odd, vague, fuzzy statements it’s hard to know where to begin.

One of the highlights of this week’s meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was a discussion on why, although the existing religions do not capture all of what’s out there in the universe, some at least of their endeavours must be taken seriously.

Well what on earth does that mean? ‘Endeavours’? What do you mean endeavours? For that matter, what do you even mean by ‘capture all of what’s out there in the universe’? What do you mean by ‘capture’, … Read the rest

Not the Same Old Thing *

Sep 13th, 2003 | Filed by

The state of scientific research into paranormal phenomena.… Read the rest

Nonsense *

Sep 13th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Religion, properly conceived, attempts to provide an account of all there is.’ Well no doubt, but it fails!… Read the rest

Rigorous What?

Sep 12th, 2003 8:06 pm | By

There’s a bizarrely idiotic argument from a commentator on NPR here. The subject is religion, and the Brights, and Dennett’s editorial again. The commentary starts off with the name, which I have no intention of defending: I think it’s absurd, and I’d rather be nibbled by sharks than call myself a Bright. But then it goes on.

55% of people with post-graduate degrees (lawyers, doctors, dentists, and the like) believe in the Devil. 53% believe in Hell. 72% believe in miracles. Remember these are people with post-graduate educations. 78% if them believe in the survival of the soul after death. 60% believe in the virgin birth. And 64% believe in the resurrection of Christ. You can’t get a post-graduate degree

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The James Dean of the Cold War *

Sep 12th, 2003 | Filed by

Orwell’s list was not like McCarthy’s little list, Timothy Garton Ash points out.… Read the rest

Perhaps All Dentists? *

Sep 12th, 2003 | Filed by

‘55% of people with post-graduate degrees (lawyers, doctors, dentists, and the like) believe in the Devil.’… Read the rest

Media Studies Easy? Surely Not! *

Sep 12th, 2003 | Filed by

It takes a lot of training to learn how to watch tv, you know.… Read the rest

2001, 1973, 1953

Sep 11th, 2003 7:06 pm | By

Well, I know, it’s all too obvious, everyone is saying it, it’s in the air this year (it wasn’t last year, as far as I remember). Maybe because the anniversary is a round 30 instead of 29, and clearly also because of Peter Kornbluh’s book. But however obvious it is, I’m going to say it anyway. September 11 is a horror-anniversary for Chile as well as for the US. And, stomach-churningly for an American, the Chilean horror show was in large part caused and helped and funded and backed by the US. Which emphatically does not mean that I’m saying we got what we deserved or that Osama bin Laden and his disgusting pals were avenging Allende. But it does … Read the rest

Harsh Book Reviews, Again *

Sep 11th, 2003 | Filed by

But if the book is bad, what is the reviewer supposed to say?… Read the rest

Yale Meets the Union *

Sep 11th, 2003 | Filed by

Student awakened by chanting at 8 a.m. – it’s an outrage!… Read the rest

The Plant Protection Racket

Sep 11th, 2003 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

Inferiority as a Luxury Item

Before the Industrial Revolution, artists and artisans would strive to make a work as perfect as possible. They used the technologies of their time to make as fine a product as their skill and limited technology allowed. Given the long painstaking efforts involved in creation, such items were few in number and available to only a minuscule number of elites. They were the crowning achievement of their time and brought great prestige to those fortunate few who owned them. Renaissance painters used the mathematics of perspective to create their trompe l’oeil (a French term meaning “trick the eye.”) David Hockney’s recent claim that some of the Renaissance artists achieved realism by using a camera obscura … Read the rest

Reburying Remains a Great Idea? *

Sep 10th, 2003 | Filed by

Forget rights and better living condtions, here are some bones.… Read the rest

Martha Nussbaum on Genocide in Gujarat *

Sep 10th, 2003 | Filed by

Myth-making and falsification of history play a large part in Hindu nationalism and its terrors.… Read the rest

Happy Birthday to Us

Sep 9th, 2003 8:50 pm | By

Well, just think – Butterflies and Wheels is a year old. Yes, it’s our birthday. Depending on when you start counting – if it’s from the first day there was anything at all on the site, then the birthday was a few days ago. But I’ve decided to count from the first articles we posted in News, and that was September 10. Three hours from now in London where one leg (or wing) of BandW is, and eleven hours from now in Seattle, where the other leg is. Close enough.

It’s funny – we expected a good deal of hostility and criticism. In fact one of us was looking forward to it, and has been disappointed that we’ve had so … Read the rest