All entries by this author

Precognition, Remote Viewing, Bent Spoons *

Mar 18th, 2004 | Filed by

What would convince skeptics that there are paranormal phenomena? Replication.… Read the rest


Mar 17th, 2004 7:07 pm | By

Yes and speaking of writing books (yes we were, yesterday) and Adonis and one thing and another – we are writing a book, as a matter of fact. We’re doing a much-expanded version of the Fashionable Dictionary. It’s going to be very, very, very funny. Eye-closingly funny, lung-emptyingly funny, furniture-breakingly funny. In fact, to tell you the unvarnished truth and not to put too fine a point on it, it already is. I say this with all due modesty and humility, on account of how I don’t have any. Don’t know what the words mean. (Better bung them in the dictionary then.) Anyway I can pretend I’m talking exclusively about my colleague’s work when I boast. But I’m not. His … Read the rest

Who’s We?

Mar 17th, 2004 6:08 pm | By

Well really. There is a limit. And I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m perfectly happy to be peculiar, eccentric, bloody-minded, odd, etc (which is just as well), but there are some ideas and thoughts one wants to see plenty of resistance to. There are a lot of them in this ridiculous comment by Katie Roiphe.

These days, no one is shocked when an independent-minded woman takes her husband’s name, any more than one is shocked when she announces that she is staying at home with her kids.

Oh is that so. No one? Really? How do you know? Have you asked every last one of us? Have you asked the black swan? And … Read the rest

P.Z. Myers on the ‘Discovery’ Institute *

Mar 17th, 2004 | Filed by

He’s not a great fan.… Read the rest

Harvard Law Review Embarrasses Itself *

Mar 17th, 2004 | Filed by

And Brian Leiter tells us how.… Read the rest

Chris Mooney on ‘Intelligent Design’ *

Mar 17th, 2004 | Filed by

And rash interventions by interested parties.… Read the rest

Intelligent Design and Harvard Law Review *

Mar 17th, 2004 | Filed by

The National Review Online gets mixed up in the argument.… Read the rest

Why Skeptics Dread Chats With Believers *

Mar 17th, 2004 | Filed by

Phil Mole on the frustration of arguing with people who don’t know how.… Read the rest

Is Muslim Anti-Semitism a Taboo Subject? *

Mar 16th, 2004 | Filed by

And if so, why?… Read the rest

Odd That Creationists Don’t Mention Tumors *

Mar 16th, 2004 | Filed by

Tumors are a miracle of natural complexity – surely a case of Intelligent Design? No?… Read the rest

Stick a Hawk on Your Window *

Mar 16th, 2004 | Filed by

Window glass can be fatal for birds.… Read the rest


Mar 15th, 2004 8:09 pm | By

I’ve been re-reading Martha Nussbaum’s brilliant essay and chapter ‘Religion and Women’s Human Rights’ in Sex and Social Justice. In it she discusses the tension between religious liberty and human rights. It’s refreshing, to put it mildly, to read someone who doesn’t pretend there is no such tension. On the contrary; Nussbaum is quite definite about it:

For the world’s major religions, in their actual human form, have not always been outstanding respectors of basic human rights or of the equal dignity and inviolability of persons…these violations do not always receive the intense public concern and condemnation that other systematic atrocities against groups often receive – and there is reason to think that liberal respect for religious difference is

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Peppered Moths at LSE *

Mar 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Darwin Day celebrated with an impassioned denunciation of moth-bothering Darwin-baiters.… Read the rest

Geza Vermes on Gibson’s Movie *

Mar 15th, 2004 | Filed by

Gratutitously brutal, historically wrong, and likely to inspire judeophobia. Other than that, it’s swell.… Read the rest

Cool Dude Watches ‘Sex and the City’ *

Mar 15th, 2004 | Filed by

‘the underlying essentialist myths of city women as vampiric succubi’… Read the rest

More on US and Venezuela

Mar 14th, 2004 8:31 pm | By

This story about the US funding opposition to Hugo Chavez is a difficult one to understand clearly. As all stories are, really. Even if one is oneself an investigative reporter and has many reliable sources with masses of evidence – one still doesn’t know what sources one has overlooked, which sources are reliable but partial, reliable but themselves overlooking something – and so on, back and back it goes, into the receding mirror of who really does know. (This of course is the bit of break in the rock where postmodernism gets its toehold: the truth can be very hard to pin down, therefore why not just shrug and say there is no truth and proceed to tell stories instead.) … Read the rest

Hope and Fantasy Impeded Clear Thinking *

Mar 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Interventions amount to a promise, Michael Ignatieff says.… Read the rest

Whose Enlightenment? *

Mar 14th, 2004 | Filed by

Ideas about fallibility, religion, multiculturalism, parochialism divide Europe and the US.… Read the rest

Not This Again

Mar 13th, 2004 9:24 pm | By

Well, this is familiar. Familiar and stomach-turning. What was that we were saying about ‘democracy’? Sometimes that seems to translate to democracy Henry Ford style. Any colour so long as it’s black; any candidate so long as it’s one the US approves of.

But critics of the NED say the organisation routinely meddles in other countries’ affairs to support groups that believe in free enterprise, minimal government intervention in the economy and opposition to socialism in any form. In recent years, the NED has channelled funds to the political opponents of the recently ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the same time that Washington was blocking loans to his government.

Shades of 1954. I thought we’d learned our lesson, … Read the rest

Hamlet: ‘This World Sucks, KnowhatI’msayin?’ *

Mar 13th, 2004 | Filed by

Shakespeare thou art translated.… Read the rest