All entries by this author

Guns and probate *

Oct 24th, 2002 | Filed by

Mistakes in evidence, however small, can undermine a case.… Read the rest

Suspect anyone wearing a halo *

Oct 24th, 2002 | Filed by

Hitchens thinking through Orwell and himself at the same time.… Read the rest

Martyrdom myth defies the facts *

Oct 23rd, 2002 | Filed by

The political uses of putative martyrdom, and the dangers.… Read the rest

To forget the past… *

Oct 23rd, 2002 | Filed by

As evidence of Stalin’s mass killings is uncovered, many Russians don’t want to know.… Read the rest

Ideologically driven review *

Oct 23rd, 2002 | Filed by

Historians dispute a review by a non-historian who seems to have read a different book.… Read the rest

Postmodernism and History

Oct 22nd, 2002 | By Richard J. Evans

Postmodernism comes in many guises and many varieties,
and it has had many kinds of positive influences on historical scholarship.
It has encouraged historians to take the irrational in the past more seriously,
to pay more attention to ideas, beliefs and culture as influences in their own
right, to devote more effort to framing our work in literary terms, to put individuals,
often humble individuals, back into history, to emancipate ourselves from what
became in the end a constricting straitjacket of social-science approaches,
quantification and socio-economic determinism.

But this is postmodernism in its more moderate
guise. The literature on postmodernism usefully distinguishes between the moderate
and the radical. What I call radical postmodernism takes its cue from another
post, post-structuralism, … Read the rest

Questioning the motives *

Oct 21st, 2002 | Filed by

Has inequality increased in the last two or three decades, and is it a problem if it has, and is it invidious even to mention the subject, and if so, why?… Read the rest

At the Bookfest

Oct 20th, 2002 4:25 pm | By

I went to the Northwest Bookfest yesterday to hear Steven Pinker and William Calvin talk about brains and evolution. Pinker is here on a book tour with his new book The Blank Slate, and I also went to hear him Friday evening. The Bookfest event was particularly interesting, because it was a dialogue and a little bit less planned than a lecture necessarily is. Calvin is a neuroscientist at the University of Washington who, as he pointed out, like Pinker tends to write books for the general public. His latest book, A Mind for all Seasons, is about the likely ways climate change and the evolutionary pressures that go with it shaped the human mind, and he and … Read the rest

Hermeneutics of New Jersey *

Oct 20th, 2002 | Filed by

Deconstructing, psychoanalysing, close reading or rather viewing, rewinding ‘The Sopranos’…are academics watching a little too much television?… Read the rest

How to discuss controversial subjects honestly *

Oct 18th, 2002 | Filed by

Jared Diamond reviews book on evolutionary explanation of religion in which contentious, often oversimplified ideas are treated fairly.… Read the rest

Nurture versus nurture *

Oct 18th, 2002 | Filed by

What seems like the reasonable compromise position, that human nature is half genes and half upbringing, can still get it wrong, Steven Pinker says. Sometimes it’s 100% one or the other.… Read the rest

Pinker, Wright and Seligman chat *

Oct 16th, 2002 | Filed by

Robert Wright invites Steven Pinker and Martin Seligman to talk about happiness, genes and psychology on Slate.Read the rest

Relies too heavily on rhetoric *

Oct 16th, 2002 | Filed by

David Barash reviews S. J. Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.… Read the rest

Journalists adore, biologists not so much *

Oct 16th, 2002 | Filed by

Paul Gross considers the reputation of Stephen Jay Gould among colleagues as well as the general public, and finds some discrepancies.… Read the rest

Audible gasp *

Oct 15th, 2002 | Filed by

Even on the left, even the secular left, criticism of religion is not allowed.… Read the rest

Faked research and how it is caught *

Oct 15th, 2002 | Filed by

Though the process worked and the fraud was exposed, scientists wish the process had worked a bit faster.… Read the rest

Good idea but over-optimistic *

Oct 13th, 2002 | Filed by

Jeremy Rifkin’s ideas about hydrogen fuel cells may depend too much on starry-eyed hopes for ‘new consciousness’.… Read the rest

He was admired, his ideas were rejected *

Oct 12th, 2002 | Filed by

John Tooby examines the paradox of Darwin’s celebrity despite widespread skepticism about natural selection.… Read the rest

A Darwinian Left *

Oct 11th, 2002 | Filed by

Study of the psychological effects of inequality attracts thinkers to evolutionary theory, thus beginning to heal the breach between sociobiology and the Left.… Read the rest

Senator Clinton queries theology-based research *

Oct 10th, 2002 | Filed by

Anti-abortion doctor who writes books on “healing power of Jesus” appointed by Bush administration to drug-review panel.… Read the rest