All entries by this author

That’s an Accomplishment? *

Mar 6th, 2004 | Filed by

‘one of literary theory’s accomplishments…has been its bid to protect “the privacy of its language.”‘… Read the rest

Some People Disapprove of French Ban *

Mar 5th, 2004 | Filed by

US State Department, al Qaeda frown at ban on religious attire.… Read the rest

Ah, Sweet Mystery *

Mar 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Popular science books ought to help nonspecialists distinguish sense from nonsense. … Read the rest

UK Still Dithering About GM Crops *

Mar 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Parliarmentary committee calls for more trials.… Read the rest

Chris Mooney on ‘Sound Science’ *

Mar 5th, 2004 | Filed by

The phrases ‘sound science’ and ‘peer review’ may not mean what you think.… Read the rest

What We Don’t See

Mar 4th, 2004 8:08 pm | By

What was that I was saying only a day or two ago about smelly little orthodoxies and the hijab? This article from the BBC certainly gives a good illustration of what I mean. Two mentions of Muslim opposition to the ban, and no mentions at all of Muslim support for the ban. If you don’t already know a little about the subject, and read that article, you’ll be left with the impression that Muslims who have any opinion on the matter are opposed. But that is simply not true. Forty percent of Muslim women support the ban, according to news reports I’ve seen.

Most of France’s political parties, and around 70% of the population, support the ban which some Muslim

Read the rest

Elephants Can Be Irritating *

Mar 4th, 2004 | Filed by

There are good reasons why Africans don’t view their fauna with the same sentimentality that Europeans do.… Read the rest

French Upper House Backs Hijab Ban *

Mar 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Huge majority in favour of the ban.… Read the rest

A Basin of Nice, Thin Gruel

Mar 3rd, 2004 11:55 pm | By

I want to talk just a little more about this question of morality and motivation. The more I think about it the more of a wall it seems. A dead stop, an aporia, a permanent undecideable. A six of one half dozen of the other. Norm Geras put it very well:

I have read that in the Nazi camps, those who did best at maintaining their moral bearings, at not going to pieces in face of the horrors they daily had to experience, were people of very firm and definite convictions: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish rabbis, hardened communist militants. On the other hand, intellectuals, liberal and professional people, sometimes suffered a precipitous moral collapse…To have had to get used to conditions

Read the rest

Science Journal Publishers Defend Profits *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Journal bosses claim that academic institutions would suffer if the system were changed.… Read the rest

My, the Unabomber Writes Well *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

How to grade millions of university-entrance essays? Clumsily.… Read the rest

Science in the Arab World *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

What are the factors that contribute to the low level of scientific research?… Read the rest

GM Crops Can Help the Poor *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

The strongest argument in favour of developing GM crops is the contribution they can make to reducing world poverty, hunger and disease.… Read the rest

MMR Researchers Issue Retraction *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Ten doctors who co-authored the MMR health fears study have said there was insufficient evidence to draw that conclusion.… Read the rest

Tougher Penalties for Genital Mutilation *

Mar 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Up to 14 years in prison for parents who allow their children to undergo female circumcision.… Read the rest


Mar 2nd, 2004 7:34 pm | By

I now think I inadvertently conceded a little too much in that last post. Through not paying quite enough attention to the first part of Chris’ comment – the ‘at its best, religion succeeds in a symbolic articulation of universal moral concern’ part. My attention was grabbed by the parenthesis, by ‘motivation,’ because motivation is exactly what I had it in mind to talk about. I do think religion can be a powerful motivator, for both good and ill. But that symbolic articulation I take to be a separate question, and that one I’m much more doubtful about. I for one simply don’t find its articulations all that impressive, or at least no more so (at best) than secular articulations. … Read the rest

Review of A C Grayling’s New Book *

Mar 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

‘He would like to rip philosophy from what Hazlitt called the “labyrinths of intellectual abstraction”‘… Read the rest

Complementary Medicine Needs Proper Research *

Mar 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

No integration into the NHS until proper science has been done, argues Edzard Ernst.… Read the rest

Dinosaurs in Asteroid Shock *

Mar 2nd, 2004 | Filed by

Single impact theory of dinosaur extinction is challenged.… Read the rest

Bonfire of the Bourgeois Vanities

Mar 2nd, 2004 | By David Stanway

In China, people of a certain generation will tell you stories about an era that might as well be a millenium ago. There are thousands of children, amassed in Shanghai’s train station, waiting for the beginning of what feels to them to be a big and important adventure. Their parents are weeping, watching their children bound towards the carriages on their way to the countryside, where – as part of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – they will spend their formative years learning from the peasants.

The kids who participated in this vast exodus are now in their forties and fifties, and most complain of the gap in their education and the wasted decade lasting from 1966 to the death … Read the rest