All entries by this author

Bloom Disses King *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Is an award to Stephen King a symptom of dumbing down? Or is Bloom just cranky.… Read the rest

News Flash

Sep 25th, 2003 12:19 am | By

Let’s re-invent the wheel again. How many times do we need to learn that democracy is not the same thing as freedom, that the majority will does not necessarily (in fact almost certainly doesn’t) represent the will of absolutely everyone, that in fact majorities are perfectly capable of deciding to oppress minorities? John Stuart Mill seems to be widely read, judging by the number of copies of On Liberty one sees in used bookstores, and yet we still go on telling each other with an air of innocent surprise that democracy in Iraq could possibly mean that people will vote in an oppressive fundamentalist Islamic government. Well yes, it could mean exactly that.

Nicholas Kristof pointed this out in the … Read the rest

Ya Big Meanie

Sep 24th, 2003 9:05 pm | By

The Chronicle of Higher Education had an interesting story in June – interesting albeit peculiar. So many people arguing so back-to-front – I don’t like this/this is offensive/this hurts my feelings, therefore this has to be wrong. Not that it’s exactly a news flash that people do argue that way – it’s even possible that I’ve been known to argue that way myself – but there is so much of it in this story it does get one’s attention.

Other scholars and activists have blasted the book for reinforcing inaccurate stereotypes.

Hmm. Why do I suspect that those scholars and activists would still have ‘blasted’ the book even if the stereotypes had been accurate? Why do I wonder if they … Read the rest

Sauce for the Gander

Sep 24th, 2003 4:35 pm | By

So, as if to prove my point, here is an article that gives some idea of the kind of thing the Competitive Enterprise Institute gets up to. Helping the Bush White House to ‘play down’ research on global warming that could have consequences the CEI wouldn’t like, for example.

White House officials wanted the CEI’s help to play down the impact of a report last summer by the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which the US admitted for the first time that humans are contributing to global warming…The email discusses possible tactics for playing down the report and getting rid of EPA officials, including its then head, Christine Whitman…The CEI is suing another government climate research body that produced

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Shapiro on Kermode on Literature *

Sep 24th, 2003 | Filed by

The discussions of old battles over French theory fail to thrill, but the rest does.… Read the rest

British Public Are Scaredy-Cats *

Sep 24th, 2003 | Filed by

GM crops and self-selecting samples.… Read the rest

Help For The Disadvantaged? *

Sep 24th, 2003 | Filed by

Should university admissions procedures take social circumstances into account?… Read the rest

When Democracies Fall Apart *

Sep 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

It’s not the angry people but the elites who make it happen.… Read the rest

Bush Administration Suppresses Research *

Sep 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

And considers suing the Environmental Protection Agency.… Read the rest

Are All Religions Identical?

Sep 23rd, 2003 | By Phil Mole

Are all religions identical? Many people seem to think so, especially if they’ve taken a world religion course in college or read a Joseph Campbell book. They will tell you that all religions teach us to value life, to refrain from harming others, and to renounce selfishness. Therefore, so the thinking goes, all religions are identical in both content and purpose. The corollary assumption is that there can never be legitimate conflicts between religious beliefs, therefore all disagreements between followers of different religions must be fundamentally illegitimate. These conflicts allegedly stem from simple misunderstandings or unwillingness to admit common ground.

Such a view is certainly comforting, since it suggests that religious factions need only to listen to each other to … Read the rest

Leaving Out Words

Sep 22nd, 2003 9:28 pm | By

This is an interesting article that makes a useful point. I thought about posting it in News but then decided not to. The trouble is, there’s too much rhetoric and not enough evidence.

There is a crisis emerging in the scientific community. The ideals of science are being sacrificed to the god of political expediency. Environmental scientists are becoming so obsessed with the righteousness of their cause that they are damning those who wish to use science as an objective tool in public policy decisions.

But Iain Murray gives only two examples. One from 1989 and one new one. But that’s not ‘the scientific community’ or ‘environmental scientists’ as a group, obviously. So why write as if it were? In … Read the rest

Occidentalism *

Sep 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Enlightenment thinkers were a minority, it was the orthodox who fought them who had the power.… Read the rest

Fads and Fallacies *

Sep 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Steven Goldberg calls for honest inquiry but doesn’t always offer enough evidence himself.… Read the rest

What Should Students Learn? *

Sep 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Especially at a time when ‘some theoreticians batter away at the universal truth claims of science.’… Read the rest

Cultural Relativism, Again

Sep 21st, 2003 8:56 pm | By

Here is an interesting item. At least I think so. A blogger commenting on our In Focus article ‘Cultural Relativism’ and how the subject has exercised him since he arrived in China (where he lives and works, he’s not just visiting). Then he updates the entry with a link to an article in which the subject is absolutely central. A Norwegian journalist spent some months living with a middle-class family in Kabul and has written a book (now a best-seller) on what she learned there. What she learned, among other things, is that the nice urbane bookseller treats the women in his houshold ‘like dirt’. Now the furious bookseller himself has come to Europe determined to ‘drag Seierstad through the … Read the rest

The Right Imperfections *

Sep 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Authentic is sometimes a euphemism for labour-intensive or expensive.… Read the rest

Peace Peace *

Sep 21st, 2003 | Filed by

The Baghdad blogger Salam Pax.… Read the rest

Treated Like Dirt Even by Small Boys *

Sep 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Even middle-class men treat women appallingly in Afghanistan.… Read the rest

The Bookseller of Kabul *

Sep 21st, 2003 | Filed by

And his campaign against the Norwegian reporter who revealed how women are treated in Afghanistan.… Read the rest

Power-hunger in the Guise of Liberation *

Sep 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Alexandra Stein on the appeal and danger of cults.… Read the rest