All entries by this author

Iraqi History and Archaeology

Apr 19th, 2003 7:48 pm | By

The story of the looting of the Iraqi National Museum and other museums in Iraq is an interesting and deeply discouraging one. A giant hole has been blasted in the world’s stock of available knowledge that will never be completely repaired. Even if all the missing artworks do eventually turn up on the black market (a highly unlikely if), that still leaves all the books and manuscripts that went up in flames at the National Library, and all the artworks that are not missing but smashed. Whatever the neglect or indifference of the Pentagon in not protecting the sites, the damage is done now, and people who think history and knowledge are good things are in shock.

Slate has a … Read the rest


Apr 19th, 2003 6:00 pm | By

Ian Buruma says in this article in Prospect that the source of the bitterness between France and the US is that they are the two great missionary-revolutionary countries, the two great believers in universals, only they have different ‘universals’ (quite a paradoxical outcome). Both are idealist nations, both are the proud inheritors of institutions and values born in violent revolution, but the ideals and institutions and values are not the same ones. So we come to Liberty fries and Liberty toast and a deluge of Francophobe jokes on the Internet.

But it’s possible that Buruma overestimates US idealism at times.

Unless one believes, like Noam Chomsky, that the war was fought for the sake of corporate interests, that too was

Read the rest

Heat and Light Between Scientists *

Apr 19th, 2003 | Filed by

Shock-horror at tampering with the speed of light; coarse and flippant attacks on peer review.… Read the rest

Democracy or Freedom?

Apr 18th, 2003 7:00 pm | By

Sometimes it can seem as if Americans have a special gift for naïveté – something to do with living in a huge country bordered by oceans, thus distant from the rest of the world, and also to do with our dreams of exceptionalism and being the City on a Hill, and maybe also to do with vague notions that people who live right in the place where Levis and Hollywood movies and Big Macs actually come from have no need to do a lot of heavy lifting-type thought, that that kind of thing is for those poor deprived people in other countries who have to import their Jurassic Park and Kentucky Fried Chicken from us. Whatever the reason, we’re not … Read the rest

Tocqueville Updated *

Apr 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Niall Ferguson reviews Fareed Zakaria’s book on the rivalry between democracy and freedom.… Read the rest

Pope Lays Down the Law *

Apr 18th, 2003 | Filed by

More ridiculous rules and strictures from the guy at the Vatican.… Read the rest

Anthony Gottlieb Reviews ‘Rational Mysticism’ *

Apr 17th, 2003 | Filed by

But attitudes of reverence and wonder need not be ‘mystical’.… Read the rest

Susan Greenfield on Scientific Literacy *

Apr 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Science as exciting as football, as fun as going to the cinema.… Read the rest

Archaeologists’ Letter in Guardian *

Apr 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Nine archaeologists urge protection for Iraq’s antiquities. … Read the rest

Library Burnt *

Apr 16th, 2003 | Filed by

The fire at the National Library in Baghdad destroyed manuscripts many centuries old.… Read the rest

Sheffield, Baltimore, Florence *

Apr 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Single women supporting art, eccentric women traversing Europe to buy shocking paintings: Michael Palin’s sort of thing.… Read the rest

Strike! Give Will His Due! *

Apr 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Teachers’ union considers a boycott of English test that dumbs down Shakespeare.… Read the rest

Shiva the Destroyer?

Apr 16th, 2003 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

Postmodernist anti-science thought was once primarily associated with European
and North American academics in the humanities. Now not only has its influence
become international, but it has become integrally intertwined with a number
of other issues such as anti-globalization, anti-transgenic technology in agriculture,
and conservation. Nobody can fault the prevailing internationalism of postmodernists
and their respect for different cultures and peoples (except for the culture
of those who are committed to modern science/technology and its benefits). Nor
can we fault their argument that all of us have biases, though they fail to
comprehend the vital role that scientific method plays in helping to overcome
the limitations which personal and cultural biases impose. Their belief in the
worth and dignity of … Read the rest

James Watson on Using Genetic Knowledge *

Apr 15th, 2003 | Filed by

Conservatives want to stop improvement, Watson says, but enhancement means making better.… Read the rest

They Saw It Coming *

Apr 15th, 2003 | Filed by

Archaeology Magazine worried about the looting of Iraq’s antiquities before the war began.… Read the rest

Life’s Lethal Quality Control

Apr 15th, 2003 | By Geoff Watts

One day in 1995, biologist Armand Leroi walked into Manhattan’s Strand Bookshop
and made a remarkable discovery. He came across a rather plain-looking remaindered
volume bearing the title Cancer Selection . The postdoc student had not heard of the book or its author, James
Graham. But, Leroi recalls: “I’m a sucker for odd theories of evolution, so
I bought it.” It was an impulse decision that was to have profound implications.
For buried in the book was a bold new idea that has become a muse to the young

The book was lying on a table in front of him when I visited his South London
flat. Leroi, a reader in evolutionary developmental biology at London’s Imperial
College, is … Read the rest

Lunch With Cosmides and Tooby *

Apr 14th, 2003 | Filed by

Louis Wolpert talks to the pair who have helped to make the blank slate model obsolete.… Read the rest

Human Genome Cracked (again!) *

Apr 14th, 2003 | Filed by

Three years ago a first draft, this time with 99.999% accuracy.… Read the rest

‘Conservation Support’ *

Apr 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Let us help you loosen your ‘retentionist’ export policies! That’s a nice statue there, for instance…… Read the rest

National Museum of Iraq Emptied *

Apr 13th, 2003 | Filed by

Nothing of value left, say tearful officials.… Read the rest