All entries by this author

A Diabolical Liberty

Feb 6th, 2004 2:00 am | By

Yikes! Weird! Someone I don’t know and have never heard of – had a dream about me. Nothing icky, at least not that he said, but – still, an odd notion. Next thing you know I’ll be dreaming about C–n the Un——-le. He’ll be staring at me through a monocle and holding a copy of Swallows and Amazons.… Read the rest

Brief and to the Point

Feb 5th, 2004 8:40 pm | By

Thought for the day. I like to give you a good eloquent quotation now and then – actually had I but world enough and time I would do it more often than that, several times a day probably, because I’m always running into sentences that just seem to distill a lot into that one small frame. I just read this one in Meera Nanda’s new book (which of course you should all read):

Intellectuals, whose job it is to agitate and educate on behalf of universal and humane values, began to see the protection of traditions from the onslaught of modernity as more important than combating the tyranny of traditions on social relations.

See what I mean? That sums up … Read the rest

New Rhetorical Tricks by Antievolutionists *

Feb 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Scientific controversy is not the same as political: there is no middle ground.… Read the rest

‘Conservative Lysenkoism Redux’ *

Feb 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Chris Mooney attends Congressional hearing on ‘sound science’ – which isn’t.… Read the rest

Peer Review and Politics *

Feb 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Chris Mooney looks at a wolf in sheep’s clothing.… Read the rest

Green Myth vs. the Green Revolution

Feb 5th, 2004 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The Underlying Belief System

Gail Omvedt speaks of a “a distorted image of farmers held by a section of the urban elite” in India as well as in developed countries. This mythic image:

depicts them romantically but demeaningly as backward, tradition-loving, innocent and helpless creatures carrying on their occupation for love of the land and the soil, and as practitioners of a “way of life” rather than a toilsome income-earning occupation. These imagined farmers have to be protected from market forces and the attacks of multinationals, from the seductions of commercialization and the enslavement of technologies (Omvedt 1998).

Modern agriculture and the food supply it provides, along with modern medicine and the pharmaceuticals and technological devices it uses and the … Read the rest

What Did Sokal & Bricmont Really Say?

Feb 4th, 2004 7:10 pm | By

Francis Wheen was on Start the Week Monday to talk about his new book How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World. The book sounds like just our sort of thing in a way, being about various forms of delusion and what a lot of them there are about nowadays – but in another way it doesn’t, quite, because it apparently doesn’t limit itself the way we do. Mind you, there’s disagreement about how much we limit ourselves, and how much we ought to, which gets back to that ‘What was the question?’ N&C I did a week or two ago. But still. However expansive a view I take, I don’t attempt to cover every kind of delusion I can think … Read the rest

Who Needs Hubble When We Have Astrology? *

Feb 4th, 2004 | Filed by

What’s the New York Times doing publishing astrology on the Op-ed page?… Read the rest

Hubble Telescope May Be Saved *

Feb 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Protests from star-gazers may win reprieve for indispensable window on cosmos.… Read the rest

What Exactly is Media Literacy? *

Feb 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Is ‘reading’ tv the exact equivalent of reading books?… Read the rest

Question Authority – But Which One? *

Feb 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Denis Dutton reviews Doubt and notes insufficient skepticism about Freud among others.… Read the rest

Top Ten Modern Delusions *

Feb 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Francis Wheen’s list: God is on our side, the market is divine, astrology is harmless fun.… Read the rest

‘Great stories, and some of them are even true’ *

Feb 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Punk journalism is sparky, sexy, non-boring, what everyone is saying.… Read the rest

Amartya Sen on the Values of the Environment *

Feb 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

People are agents whose freedoms matter, not just patients with living standards.… Read the rest


Feb 2nd, 2004 9:23 pm | By

Our reader Chris of Intelligent Life alerted me to this wonderful essay by Frank Lentricchia. It should be required reading for all aspiring ‘Literary Theorists.’ I want to quote and quote and quote. But read the whole article (the whole shorter article: this is a reduced version of the original from Lingua Franca.)

Over the last ten years, I’ve pretty much stopped reading literary criticism, because most of it isn’t literary. But criticism it is of a sort—the sort that stems from the sense that one is morally superior to the writers that one is supposedly describing. This posture of superiority is assumed when those writers represent the major islands of Western literary tradition, the central cultural engine—so

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Hipper Than Thou

Feb 2nd, 2004 7:12 pm | By

I’ve just been browsing Scott McLemee’s site and seen so many items I want to point out to our readers that I’ll just have to do it here.

There is a highly amusing review of David Brooks’ silly Bobos in Paradise for a start.

David Brooks, a writer for the conservative Weekly Standard, is also an amateur sociologist; which is to say, someone who makes mental footnotes to the New York Times…The argument of Bobos in Paradise is simple, and the author restates it every two pages (perhaps as a courtesy to the people he is discussing, who must do their reading between cell phone messages).

But amusing is not all it is, because silly is not all Brooks is. … Read the rest

Robert Merton and Serendipity *

Feb 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

The importance of accident and luck in research.… Read the rest

Alternative to Female Genital Mutilation? *

Feb 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

Would a symbolic cut prevent worse, or endorse a terrible practice?… Read the rest

Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India

Feb 2nd, 2004 | By Robert Nola

Meera Nanda’s book Prophets Facing Backward is an extraordinary and compelling book. Few in the West are aware of the alarming confluence of ideas arising out of the contemporary nationalistic politics of India with its endorsement of ‘Vedic science’ and the dominant postmodernist, social constructivist and sociological trends in science studies in the West. Nanda’s book is an intellectual bombshell dropped on this potent combination. No one interested in the ways in which science and culture can interact should ignore this book and the challenging case it makes against the prevailing orthodoxies of much that passes for Western science ‘studies’. It should serve for years to come as a reference point for what can go wrong in science studies when … Read the rest

Reading Instructions

Feb 1st, 2004 8:49 pm | By

I see where Socialism in an Age of Waiting has picked up my plug for Hazlitt from a few days ago. I’m pleased about that – the more advertising Hazlitt gets the better, as far as I’m concerned. So since that N&C is now below the fold, as the saying goes, i.e. in the archive where no one will ever look at it again – why I’ll just revive the subject for this month. SiaW think I even understated the case –

Via Butterflies and Wheels, there’s a collection of essays by William Hazlitt of whom Ophelia Benson writes: “It’s a permanent, settled grievance of mine that Hazlitt is so little-known. I think he’s the single most inexplicably obscure writer

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