All entries by this author

Evolution is a ‘Buzzword’ *

Feb 1st, 2004 | Filed by

Not going to be teaching the monkeys-to-man sort of thing.… Read the rest

Georgia Removes ‘Evolution’ *

Feb 1st, 2004 | Filed by

State education officials delete controversial word from science guidelines.… Read the rest

Saffron Infusion: Hindutva, History, and Education

Feb 1st, 2004 | By Latha Menon


On 5 January, 2004, the renowned Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune was vandalized by some 150 thugs. Priceless manuscripts and artefacts were destroyed. Those responsible declared themselves to be members of the ‘Sambhaji Brigade’, linked to the Maratha Seva Sangh, a regional organization with anti-Brahmin sentiments. They apparently chose this method to protest against allegedly insulting remarks made against their hero, Shivaji, in a recently published book by the American historian James W. Laine.

The link with the Institute was somewhat indirect: Laine had acknowledged the help of several academics at Bhandarkar with the translation of certain manuscripts. The book concerned, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, has been withdrawn by Oxford University Press, and the author has … Read the rest


Feb 1st, 2004 12:24 am | By

There is an amusing post here by a blogger who is eccentric enough to read B&W. He’s just been reading a N&C from back in early January, the one about academostars – which sent him to an article by Scott McLemee in the Chronicle, which prompted some reflections on Stanley Fish’s Reagonomical views of the merits of overpaying academostars.

To be fair, Fish may have a point: his presence in an English department may draw starry-eyed grad students into the department and increase funding for more useless graduate seminars on esoteric topics that will prove of little or no use to anyone teaching at most universities. In this respect, the “material conditions” of the other professors in the department

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What Does Rosenhan’s Hoax Show? *

Jan 31st, 2004 | Filed by

That labels influence diagnosis? That diagnosis is mere labeling?… Read the rest

This is Parody, Right? *

Jan 31st, 2004 | Filed by

No, apparently not. Amazing stuff.… Read the rest

False Consciousness

Jan 30th, 2004 5:52 pm | By

So here’s Nawal El Sadaawi, saying the demonstrations of women against the French proposal to ban the hijab are a ‘signal example of how “false consciousness” makes women enemies of their freedom, enemies of themselves, an example of how they are used in the political game being played by the Islamic fundamentalist movement in its bid for power.’ I have noticed repeatedly that a lot of Westerners who oppose the ban have an unpleasant (to put it mildly) tendency to accuse supporters and semi-supporters of racism and colonialist ways of thinking – as if there were total unanimity among people of Muslim background. But of course there isn’t. Far from it. Of course many Muslims and people of Muslim … Read the rest

Nawal El-Saadawi in Al-Ahram *

Jan 30th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Why should the head of women in particular be considered so dangerous that it must be made to disappear?’… Read the rest

A Past Master at Having It Both Ways *

Jan 30th, 2004 | Filed by

‘trying to create a kind of moral-political Theory of Everything, he gets badly out of his depth’… Read the rest

Hazlitt Speaks His Mind

Jan 29th, 2004 6:55 pm | By

Something put me in mind of Hazlitt’s famous Letter to William Gifford this morning – so I thought I might as well give you a bit of the flavour of it. It’s a permanent, settled grievance of mine that Hazlitt is so little-known. I think he’s the single most inexplicably obscure writer in English. He ought to be at least as famous as Orwell and far more so than Lamb or Carlyle. He’s an absolutely brilliant, dazzling writer, and he’s no slouch as a thinker, either.

The letter to Gifford starts off briskly:

Sir, You have an ugly trick of saying what is not true of any one you do not like; and it will be the object of this

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Time & Newsweek Have a Responsibility *

Jan 29th, 2004 | Filed by

To people in bookless small towns who want to learn about ideas.… Read the rest

Carl Zimmer on Creationist Rhetorical Tricks *

Jan 29th, 2004 | Filed by

Pretend science is like politics and there is always a middle ground.… Read the rest

Media Storms Can Mislead *

Jan 29th, 2004 | Filed by

Undue attention to cloning distorts public understanding of the field.… Read the rest

Corruption? Yawn

Jan 28th, 2004 7:58 pm | By

Corruption in US politics is a hardy perennial issue. Reliable, sturdy, always there; something to count on in a disconcerting world. This is, of course, because nothing is ever done about it, and the people who ought to care about it mostly don’t, and the people who ought to pay a penalty for engaging in it don’t, and the people who ought to be paying attention mostly aren’t, and the people who ought to be bringing it to the attention of the people who ought to be paying attention and ought to care mostly aren’t. It’s all a bit discouraging, frankly. Or to put it another way, it’s completely disgusting and infuriating, and an outrage, and absurd, and blindingly obviously … Read the rest

The Uses of Nanotechnology *

Jan 28th, 2004 | Filed by

High-profile opponents take an unbalanced approach, say ethicists.… Read the rest

Misconceptions Could Harm the Poor *

Jan 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Bioethics Centre and Peter Singer against Prince Charles on nanotechnology.… Read the rest

After After After Theory *

Jan 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Yet another postmortem.… Read the rest

Why Don’t People See? *

Jan 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Paul Berman lists six causes of partial vision.… Read the rest


Jan 27th, 2004 9:44 pm | By

This is funny. Hilarious, in fact. A blogger and frequent blog-commenter who is well-known for an unattractive combination of heavy sarcasm and rudeness made safe by anonymity, tries another bit of heavy sarcasm that falls rather flat, and contradicts himself in the process. Compare three statements:

“High-Caste Hindu”: Irreverently Humorous or Casually Colonialist and Racist? Chun Informs, You Decide

Do you assume that Spivak calling herself this would make it any less casually colonialist or racist (if in fact that’s the proper description–about which I, as I wrote, have no opinion)?

I find your points to be cogent, but I believe you must detect a patronizing note in Inglis’s description.

Ah. You decide. I have no opinion. But on the … Read the rest

Do I What?!

Jan 27th, 2004 8:52 pm | By

This article starts off with a pretty bizarre story.

The other day, I was reading an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean in Newsweek when I had to stop and check that it was indeed Newsweek and not, say, Christianity Today. Yes, it was indeed Newsweek. And, after a series of questions about a variety of public policy issues, Dean was asked, out of the clear blue, the following question: “Do you see Jesus Christ as the son of God and believe in him as the route to salvation and eternal life?”

Really? Really?? I never read Newsweek, so I don’t know, but that is such a weird question that it strains credulity. I mean, was … Read the rest