All entries by this author

Blooming Buzzing Confusion *

May 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Do we see what we see or is our brain stitching it all together?… Read the rest

Jayson Blair Talks *

May 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

‘I just couldn’t stop laughing.’… Read the rest

Credulity About This or Skepticism About That? *

May 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Blumnethal on Clinton is not Saint Simon on Louis XIV, unfortunately.… Read the rest

How to Win the Argument Against Philistinism *

May 21st, 2003 | Filed by

‘Not the kind of knowledge that flatters authorities,’ Frank Furedi says.… Read the rest

Where Did ‘Theory’ Come From? *

May 20th, 2003 | Filed by

Morris Dickstein considers some roots.… Read the rest

‘Infallible for 152 years, and now this! Oy!’ *

May 19th, 2003 | Filed by

Cronies, star systems, sanctimony, glitz – the Times after the Blair meltdown.… Read the rest

Damasio on Spinoza *

May 18th, 2003 | Filed by

His dissent on the prevailing view of the mind-body problem stood out in a sea of conformity.… Read the rest

These Predictions are Postdictions *

May 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Michael Shermer looks at Moby Dick and the Bible as secret decoder devices.… Read the rest

The Presentation of Self in Presidential Life *

May 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Ordinary millionaires without neckties and other varieties of manipulation.… Read the rest

Journalism, Truth, and ‘Truth’ *

May 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Julian Baggini says journalism’s goal of objectivity is neither anachronistic nor incoherent. … Read the rest

Hills of Beans

May 15th, 2003 7:33 pm | By

Hard on the heels of the story about New York Times reporter-trickster Jayson Blair comes this Guardian examination of the Jessica Lynch ‘story’ and the various forces that played into that exercise in media manipulation. Saving Private Lynch is one of the stories Jayson Blair was reporting on when he concocted the porch overlooking the tobacco fields and the herds of cattle, the porch that ‘overlooks no such thing,’ as the Times account says so acidly that I found myself wondering what the porch does overlook. A pile of rusting cars? A still? A tennis court? A swimming pool?

I thought when I first read the long Times story – so, they had him covering the Washington sniper, and then … Read the rest

A Heretic in the Church of Traumatology *

May 15th, 2003 | Filed by

New study of memory and repression won’t please ‘the psychobabblers and the melodramatists and the daytime-television bookers.’… Read the rest

The Rise of the Info-Novel

May 15th, 2003 | By Peter Lurie

What was it you wanted from that big new novel? If you’re looking for an education
about Victorian brothels, Dante studies during the 19th century,
iconography and iconology in art history, the structure and function of railroads,
the Allied retreat to Dunkirk, British scientific expeditions in the Himalaya,
Bobby Thomson’s Brooklyn-crushing dinger or any number of other subtopics in
history, philosophy, business or law, then you’ll likely find it satisfying
enough. But if you’re looking for the promise of invention, for a world created
and set in motion, for characters who grapple with ethical and moral dilemmas
that radically transform their perspective – the elements that make a great
and true novel – you’ll be disappointed.

I’m not arguing … Read the rest

Higher Education and its Discontents

May 14th, 2003 | By

Higher education is a site where a lot of disputes, tensions, disagreements, irreconcilable opposites and incompatible goals meet and clash. Proxy battles are fought there rather than in the marketplace or the courts or government because the stakes are so much lower, having comparatively little to do with profit, prison, laws, or bloodshed. So silly or perverse or evidence-free ideas get a stage to rehearse on, and sometimes drown out better ideas – and Fashionable Nonsense is born.

We have a hard time even deciding what education is for. Many people, probably most, think it’s purely vocational. People go to university because if they don’t they’ll have to do dreary boring difficult low-status jobs for no money all their lives. … Read the rest

Gerald Holton Interviewed *

May 14th, 2003 | Filed by

The physicist, author of ‘Einstein, History and Other Passions’ talks about his work for Reagan’s commission on school reform.… Read the rest

Dodgy Educations? *

May 14th, 2003 | Filed by

What a lot of people in the Labour Cabinet studied useless subjects at university.… Read the rest

History is Bunk

May 13th, 2003 8:39 pm | By

But it’s not very surprising if we don’t value learning, effort, apprenticeship, craft, if we’re not eager to spend years learning to play the cello or write real poetry that rhymes and scans, or to read Gibbon or Montaigne or The Tale of Genji or any of those long-winded books people used to write because they had nothing better to do – it’s not all that amazing if we don’t want to do that, when our leaders have such a squalidly practical, utilitarian, narrow, worm’s-eye view of the value of education. School is for job training, and that’s that. At least, that’s that when it comes to publicly funded education: they don’t mind our getting purely curiosity-driven education if we … Read the rest

Robert Park’s Column *

May 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Virtuous Bill is math-challenged and a loser, Wall Street Journal takes herbal medicine claim at face value.… Read the rest

Neuroethics *

May 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Steven Rose wonders about epidemics of depression and Ritalin use, the possibility of ‘smart drugs,’ and whether drugs are a cheap fix for social problems.… Read the rest

A Few Bags of Cheez Doodles Later *

May 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Editor & Publisher asks some cogent (and laugh-provoking) questions about the ‘Blair Watch Project’.… Read the rest