All entries by this author

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

Kenan Malik on Diversity *

Oct 30th, 2003 | Filed by

Are multiculturalism and cultural identity really such brilliant ideas?… Read the rest

Science for Sale *

Oct 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Are market values compatible with academic values?… Read the rest

Crooked Timber on Bad Writing *

Oct 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Intentions are disentangled from results, to amusing effect.… Read the rest

Review of Breaking the Spell of Dharma *

Oct 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Siriyavan Anand discusses Meera Nanda’s plea for secularising India.… Read the rest

Ruse Reviews Dawkins *

Oct 29th, 2003 | Filed by

And asks some rather odd questions in the process.… Read the rest

The Turning Point

Oct 29th, 2003 12:30 am | By

I’m a sucker for situations like the one Colin McGinn describes in this article in Prospect. People from what he calls ‘an academically disinclined background’ who get their minds awakened as adolescents, and develop and keep intellectual interests of some sort. I always find that setup tremendously moving.

There is for instance a beautiful bit in the movie ‘Gods and Monsters’ in which the director James Whale, played stunningly by Ian McKellen, ponders his own mysterious emergence from a grimly unaesthetic background. Where did he get all that imagination and love of beauty, he wonders, in McKellen’s beautiful reedy voice. ‘How did I get that way, where did it come from?’ He’s not denigrating his parents, merely wondering at his … Read the rest

Oh If Only Chiang Had Won… *

Oct 28th, 2003 | Filed by

Counter-factuals are easy to win, David Stanway points out.… Read the rest

Colin McGinn on Harnessing Mental Energy *

Oct 28th, 2003 | Filed by

‘What I liked most about philosophy was its extremely non-local character.’… Read the rest

Postmodernism, Science and Religious Fundamentalism:

Oct 28th, 2003 | By Meera Nanda

Religious Fundamentalisms, Modernist and Postmodernist

Recently I was invited to a conference of scholars of science-studies at the beautiful, lake-side campus of Cornell University. The agenda of this conference was to examine the influence of science studies on the wider “polity and the world” outside confines of the Ivory Tower. The conferees considered the influence of their discipline on just about every social movement that dealt with such things as biotech and computers to music (or rather, sound, as in “sound studies”). Completely missing from the agenda, even in this post-9/11 world that we live in, was any reference to the family of reactionary social movements that is making full use of the core ideas of science studies. I refer … Read the rest

Culture Meets the Market *

Oct 27th, 2003 | Filed by

The Sarastro couldn’t sing the low notes, but could swing on a trapeze.… Read the rest

Put That Book Down and Join the Group

Oct 26th, 2003 6:47 pm | By

This is a hilarious bit of reading. (Which I would have missed, despite entrenched habit of perusing the Guardian, but for Norm Geras’ always-interesting site, where you can vote for your own favourite novels, to the tune of three.) Lashings of sarcasm and mockery in Catherine Bennett’s look at Jane Root, BBC2, and the Big Read.

To ignore books is easy. So is burning them. You just need a match. But to make independent reading sound dull and great books look stupid, to transform literature into a vehicle for celebrities, polls, lists, voting opportunities and confected rivalries, to get books confidently debated by experts who have never read them, to set up a competition between Winnie the Pooh and War

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Bad Writing

Oct 26th, 2003 | By

Ophelia Benson

It may seem like an exercise in administering corporal punishment to a deceased equine quadruped, to say harsh things about academic Bad Writing – but of course it’s not, for the cogent reason that the horse is not dead. Academic Bad Writing is indeed old news, and no secret. But it is also on-going: a thriving, flourishing, burgeoning industry with all too much product. The market is saturated, indeed the water is up over the second floor windows, but the rain keeps falling. The vampire keeps waking up every night to find fresh blood, so all we can do is keep pounding away on the stake through the heart.

Of course, one reason academic bad writing is evergreen … Read the rest

The Big Read *

Oct 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Ew, reading is solitary – quick, let’s get the group involved!… Read the rest

What the Mind Does *

Oct 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Consider the link between thinking and inferring.… Read the rest

A Credulous People *

Oct 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Only 5% of Americans realize there is no life after death.… Read the rest

Silly Ideas About Compensation *

Oct 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Paying executives 532 times as much as the bottom workers is not actually all that useful.… Read the rest

Spiked on Eagleton *

Oct 25th, 2003 | Filed by

He is fed up with cultural theory, but not quite fed up enough.… Read the rest

Ian Buruma on the Israeli Left *

Oct 24th, 2003 | Filed by

The Left is rich and Ashkenazi, the working class is Sephardic and religious – so the left dwindles.… Read the rest