All entries by this author

All Too Political Science *

Jul 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

Bush administration shapes scientific findings to fit political agenda.… Read the rest

Gentle Jesus *

Jul 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

Why are novels about millions being tortured to death so popular?… Read the rest

Cool, They All Melted!

Jul 23rd, 2004 2:08 am | By

I can’t resist adding another example – because it seems to me to be so grotesque. It’s from a column by Nicholas Kristof, whom Brian Leiter calls ‘one of the leading “no ideas and the ability to express them” columnists at the New York Times.’ (How convenient to happen on that description just after I read the Kristof column. Doncha just love it when things fall into your lap like that? Serendipity?) The column is a brief look at one of the Rapture books, a phenomenon I’ve talked about here more than once. It starts with a pretty passage:

Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough

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Stand Still, Dobbin

Jul 22nd, 2004 8:12 pm | By

You don’t mind if I go on thrashing the equine do you? No, of course you don’t, because you’re used to it. I repeat myself a lot. But then arguments are like that – they go on and on, inconclusively, cumulatively, incrementally. Who knows if one is making any progress or not? But if one thinks there is a point worth making or defending, one goes on.

Marc Mulholland has a new post on all this today. A much politer post than I deserve, too. But I still disagree with much of what he says. For instance:

Some of the criticisms raised deny the reality of group identities, asserting in classical liberal fashion that there is no such thing as

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Chris Mooney on ‘Sound Science’ *

Jul 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

Conservatives using conflict over fish to gut the science behind Endangered Species Act. … Read the rest

Letter to Scientific American

Jul 22nd, 2004 | By Peter J. Swales

Peter J. Swales, author of numerous pioneering essays exploring the early history of psychoanalysis, is unimpressed by Mark Solms’s article in the April 2004 issue of Scientific American, “Freud Returns”. Here we reproduce an unpublished letter to Scientific American which questions Mark Solms’s competence in the field of Freud scholarship, together with an addendum and postscript.

Letters to the Editors
Scientific American

May 10, 2004

In reproducing a diagram from an 1895 manuscript, Mark Solms endeavours to portray Sigmund Freud as both percipient and prescient by drawing special attention to the “contact barriers” between neurons whose action he there supposedly “predicted”. Solms elaborates: “Two years later English physiologist Charles Sherrington discovered such gaps and named them synapses”. In truth, … Read the rest

What Liberals Can and Can’t Say

Jul 21st, 2004 9:51 pm | By

Is it unconscionable if we:

a) Talk about homophobia in the black community?

b) Think that honour killings may not be entirely a good thing?

c) Find mutilation rather distasteful?

d) Don’t much like the idea of Shari’a?

e) Think that Russians sometimes get things wrong?

f) Think that maybe there is an argument to be had about the headscarf ban?

g) Suspect that Islam and women’s rights are not perfect bedfellows?

Answers on a postcard.… Read the rest


Jul 21st, 2004 7:32 pm | By

People have been pointing out in comments that there were a good many items in Marc Mulholland’s post that I neglected to mention. True enough. I was short on time, for one thing, and I think I have a sort of built-in idea of the maximum desirable length for a comment here. I don’t like article-length blog posts, on the whole. So I didn’t dispute everything I could have disputed.

And perhaps I didn’t stipulate as much as I could have either. I could have made the same stipulation that Norm does in his post on the subject

There’s a central point in what Marc is saying which I would not contest, and this is that in the tense

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Motion on Middlebrook on Hughes *

Jul 21st, 2004 | Filed by

Compromised by lack of proper interest in the poems as such.… Read the rest

Which Sixties? *

Jul 21st, 2004 | Filed by

Hoggart’s? Benn’s? Wesker’s?… Read the rest

A Meeting to Discuss Shari’a Court in Ontario

Jul 21st, 2004 | By Homa Arjomand

Update: New material on the campaign against Shari’a Court in Canada

Report of Meeting with Marion Boyd Regarding Shari’a Court in Canada

On Thursday July 15, 2004, Homa Arjomand, Co-ordinator of the International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada was called to a meeting with Marion Boyd regarding concerns about Shari’a court in Canada. Marian Boyd has been appointed by Premier Dalton McGuinty to review the 1991 Arbitration Act

This meeting lasted over three hours and many issues and case studies were presented:

Homa Arjomand emphasized the fact that The Ontario Arbitration Act 1991 has made it possible for the Islamic movement to make another attempt to attack both secularism and the women’s movement for equality. She stated that … Read the rest

Which Community?

Jul 21st, 2004 1:54 am | By

I’ve just been chatting with my colleague on the phone, and along with other things we discussed, we agreed that this post is a lot of nonsense – and nonsense of a kind that leaves us shaking our heads (yes, both of them) in baffled amazement.

Islamaphobia is often defined as slanderous untruths. I think there is an excessively narrow definition of Islamophobia at play here. It is not right that simply stating ‘the truth’ is sufficient to clear one of Islamophobia…One must take the content in the whole. If the overall impact is intemperate and insinuating, the overall conclusion is that it is oppressively anti-pluralistic. One must also take into account the context. If ‘truth’ about a community is

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Multiculti for the Old South *

Jul 20th, 2004 | Filed by

So this is where blather about identity and diversity gets you.… Read the rest

Carlin Romano on Literary Reading *

Jul 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Could newspapers and their cultural coverage have an influence?… Read the rest

Martha Nussbaum Interview *

Jul 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Communitarianism is rooted in idea of homogeneous groups defined as ‘normal’ – shame for the others.… Read the rest

Kennewick Man Case May be Over *

Jul 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Tribes have decided not to appeal to Supreme Court, so KM will not be reburied.… Read the rest

Funniest Book Review Ever

Jul 20th, 2004 12:00 am | By

Since OB was talking about books below, I thought I’d just quickly flag-up the funniest book review I’ve ever come across.

It’s here.

I vow that if I ever get a review like this, I’ll frame it and stick it by my bedside table. Along with the letter from the guy from Australia who wrote to tell me that one of my books was “A disgrace to publishing”!*

*I should say I haven’t actually framed the letter because I lost it, but otherwise I would have done…Read the rest

Oh That Old Thing

Jul 19th, 2004 8:02 pm | By

This again. Will it never go away? (No, of course not, because it serves a purpose, however wrong-headedly.) The old ‘atheism is a belief just as theism is’ number. This time it’s in a thread on secularism at Harry’s Place, in which Harry points out how indispensable active secularism has become.

Once was a time when the National Secular Society gave the impression of being one of those curious leftovers from the 19th century, membership of which was the preserve of eccentrics who enjoyed rehashing their Oxbridge debates about theology. Sadly, given the times in which we live, it is now a much-needed organisation and one which I intend to join and urge others to do so. The weekly

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Ten Books That Shook the World

Jul 19th, 2004 6:34 pm | By

Now that’s an idea. There are all these lists all the time – Prospect’s list of the top intellectuals, the BBC’s list of Favourite Reads or whatever it was called, Norm’s lists of everyone’s favourite movies, three novels (was it?), rock groups (that last one actually incited my colleague to vote, though he usually thinks he’s too good for such frivolities) (that’s a tease, obviously), and so on. Now Norm has a new list, just his own this time, of

10 great books of my life (sort of). Though I’ve been thinking about the list for some time, I protect myself against assault by saying that these are not necessarily what I judge to be the 10 most important of

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Hansard Report on Blogging *

Jul 19th, 2004 | Filed by

New research shows that blogging can increase transparency and accessibility of parliamentarians.… Read the rest