All entries by this author

Richard Hoggart *

Feb 12th, 2004 | Filed by

Which is condescension: offering only junk on tv, or saying junk is junk?… Read the rest

Campaign for Darwin Day *

Feb 12th, 2004 | Filed by

A Darwin Day would send a signal that science matters.… Read the rest

Two Frameworthy Statements

Feb 11th, 2004 9:02 pm | By

Here’s the one I wanted to comment on no matter what. In a discussion of that perennially popular subject, why are there so few conservative academics. I simply wanted to point out (actually I want to frame in gold leaf, and embroider, and carve in stone, and issue in a limited edition with illuminated initials and gold binding) this comment, which pretty much sums up a lot of what B&W is about and what prompted it in the first place:

The labels ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ take on new and peculiar meanings in Academia. For instance, I believe in affirmative action, increasing taxes on the rich, socialized medicine, I am pro-legalized abortion, hold Christianity to be institutionalized ignorance, and donate to

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Shoes and Ships and Sealing-wax

Feb 11th, 2004 7:43 pm | By

It’s going to be one of those days when there’s more to comment on than time to comment in. ‘More offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in.’ There’s a very interesting piece by Stanley Fish in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that I want to say something about; there’s a quite fascinating comment at Crooked Timber that I’m going to say something about, come what may; there’s the rest of that rumination on wishful thinking I wrote yesterday that I want to add; there are other odds and ends; and there’s also another interesting discussion at Crooked Timber which I ought to point out. … Read the rest

Happy Darwin Day *

Feb 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Celebrate the adventure of science, and the ‘passion to know’.… Read the rest

John Maddox Reviews Paul Kurtz *

Feb 11th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Explanations requiring the supernatural are now not merely quaint but harmfully distracting to children and other innocents.’… Read the rest

Bad Time and Place to Evangelize *

Feb 11th, 2004 | Filed by

This is your pilot speaking. Are you a Christian? Well why not?!… Read the rest

Presidents Shape Lincoln to Suit Their Needs *

Feb 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Does a picture of Crawford on the wall make Bush another Lincoln?… Read the rest

Doing the Intellectual Diversity Dance *

Feb 11th, 2004 | Filed by

Stanley Fish: the pursuit of truth is not a but the central purpose of the university.… Read the rest

Then Beggars Would Ride

Feb 10th, 2004 11:13 pm | By

If wishes were horses, if pigs had wings. The world is one way, our desires are another. Hence the joy of fantasy, daydreaming, fairy tales – magic. The book I want is upstairs – how I wish it were here in my hand. The food is in the refrigerator, uncooked – how I wish it were cooked, on plates, on the table. The dishes are dirty, I wish they were clean. X, Y and Z are dead, how I wish they were alive. A and B are ill, I wish they were well. The world is full of suffering, I wish it were not. The suffering is useless, I wish it were useful. Bad things happen, I wish they didn’t.… Read the rest

Socrates was all the Rage

Feb 10th, 2004 10:13 pm | By

I’ve had one or two more thoughts about hipness – or at least fashion. The two are not identical, in fact I suppose you could argue that they’re often opposites – and yet they’re not, are they. They’re both about being Correct in some pathetically slavish way. One a majoritarian sort of way, the other in a minoritarian sort of way – but in each case, slavishly other-directed. Either one involves looking anxiously around the room all the time to check what everyone else is doing. Both involve not wanting to be dorky or geeky or nerdy or out of it; both are all about presentation of self, which has some limitations as an organizing principle for how to live … Read the rest

Desire Under the Skepticism

Feb 10th, 2004 8:21 pm | By

This is an interesting opinion piece from the New York Times yesterday. There are a great many like it out there – the point it makes is of such obvious relevance at the moment.

Our current dispute over the intelligence that led to the invasion of Iraq seems to be yet another illustration of this eternal principle: presidents and other decision makers usually get the intelligence they want. This doesn’t mean that intelligence reports should be ignored, but that they must be viewed with skepticism. And in my years in government service, I had the misfortune to see desire win out over skepticism too many times.

The intelligence they want, you see. The verb is important. It indicates a … Read the rest

Romano on Habermas and Derrida *

Feb 10th, 2004 | Filed by

Both are ‘burdened by chronic philosopher’s ailments.’… Read the rest

French MPs Back Headscarf Ban *

Feb 10th, 2004 | Filed by

Massive majority vote in favour.… Read the rest

Hipness Through the Ages

Feb 9th, 2004 7:06 pm | By

I see that Scott McLemee has a link to B&W on his site – on account of how I had links to his site. It’s like ping-pong. No but really, I feel like mentioning it because he mentions the hipness thing.

We share a distaste for that “hipness unto death” which has become such a nuisance of urban life. Maybe it always was? I don’t know. On reflection, it does seem that Rousseau was complaining about it, quite a while back.

Yeah. And Elizabethan satirists, too, come to think of it. Ben Jonson had great fun with the subject in ‘Every Man in his Humour’ and Ditto Out of his Humour. He was really interested in fashion, and wickedly funny … Read the rest

Seeing Desire Defeat Skepticism *

Feb 9th, 2004 | Filed by

Never forget: we are more likely to ‘know’ what we want to know than what we don’t want to know… Read the rest

GM Crops Blocked *

Feb 9th, 2004 | Filed by

Wales and Scotland reject GM crops.… Read the rest

Religion Aims, Again

Feb 9th, 2004 3:32 am | By

Section 3 of Allen Orr’s review of Richard Dawkins’ A Devil’s Chaplain reminded me of a review of the same book by Michael Ruse. I commented on Ruse’s review last month. Section 3 of Orr’s review deals with Dawkins’ criticisms of religion, and what Orr thinks is wrong with them.

You might argue that what conflicts did occur between science and religion were due to misunderstandings of one or the other. Indeed you might argue that Dawkins’s belief that science and religion can conflict reflects a misconstrual of the nature of religious belief: while scientific beliefs are propositions about the state of the world, religious beliefs are something else—an attempt to attach meaning or value to the world. Religion and

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Feb 8th, 2004 9:47 pm | By

Well, we all have our ups and downs. Only natural. Something to do with ions, isn’t it? Or was it ozone? Or the tides? Phases of the moon? Harmonic convergence? Something like that. Or maybe all of them. Who knows.

Anyway, I’m in a pessimistic phase. Or a discouraged one. Nobody reads B&W, I should save my breath to cool my porridge, people who used to like B&W have gone off it, etc. I have a N&C in mind – I have the articles that suggested it at hand, all ready to quote from…But. The brain is on strike. It’s downed tools and is marching up and down with a sign – ‘What am I, a robot?!’ It would write … Read the rest

Another ‘Not a Bright Idea’ *

Feb 8th, 2004 | Filed by

Surprise: hardly anyone wants to be called a ‘Bright’.… Read the rest