All entries by this author

Gays and Lesbians Denied Human Rights Protection *

Apr 29th, 2003 | Filed by

What of inalienable rights in a world of cultural relativism?… Read the rest

Who Else? *

Apr 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Of course, the Sugar Lobby is exactly the right group to tell the WHO whether sugar is healthy or not, having no financial interest in the matter.… Read the rest

Anti-Science and Pseudo-science *

Apr 28th, 2003 | Filed by

Loyalty, deference and solidarity replace rational thought and evaluation of evidence.… Read the rest

Deep in Denial *

Apr 27th, 2003 | Filed by

David Aaronovitch says much of the Left considers America far worse than Saddam’s human rights record.… Read the rest

Statistics? What Statistics? *

Apr 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Crime figures go down but three out of four people still think they’re going up.… Read the rest

Robotic Reactions *

Apr 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Mush-headed sentimentality and reluctance to think about religious motivations prevent clear thinking after September 11.… Read the rest

Back and Forth *

Apr 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Child-rearing has been a site of fashionable nonsense for at least a century.… Read the rest

Oh That’s Who Likes Goddesses! *

Apr 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Saddam Hussein ‘wrote’ a ‘novel’ and, er, borrowed a painting of a ‘goddess’ for the cover. Very spiritual, she looks.… Read the rest

Interview With Steve Jones *

Apr 26th, 2003 | Filed by

A conversation about gender, sex, males as parasites, and dinner parties.… Read the rest


Apr 25th, 2003 7:10 pm | By

There was an interview with John Brady Kiesling on Fresh Air last night. He is the former mid-level diplomat who wrote a letter of resignation shortly before the war in Iraq started. The interview was both interesting and depressing, though not very surprising. Kiesling thinks nation-building and democracy-establishing in Iraq will require far more money and attention than the US has any intention of bestowing on them, that the tensions between Kurds and Shiites are going to be even worse than Saddam was, that the US has thrown away the good relations with Europe that the State Department has spent years and the efforts of people like Kiesling building up, and that the US fails to realise how much it … Read the rest

Then Again *

Apr 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Or maybe the WHO is not over-reacting to SARS after all.… Read the rest

Get a Grip, Ontario Doctor Says *

Apr 24th, 2003 | Filed by

SARS is nasty but it’s not the plague.… Read the rest

Nobody Go to Toronto! *

Apr 24th, 2003 | Filed by

Could the WHO be over-reacting a tiny bit?… Read the rest

Compelled to Read This *

Apr 24th, 2003 | Filed by

The New Scientist reviews What Philosophers Think and finds it necessary reading for scientists.… Read the rest

Anti-realism – what’s at stake? An interview with Jonathan Rée

Apr 24th, 2003 | By Jeremy Stangroom

There is a certain caricature of philosophers which has it that they spend
their time arguing about whether things like tables and chairs exist. This is
just a caricature, but nevertheless there is an element of truth in it when
it comes to the debate about realism and anti-realism. Put crudely, realists
– or, more precisely, external realists – think both that the world exists
independently of our perceptions of it and thoughts about it, and that we can
reliably know about the world. Anti-realists, for a variety of reasons, doubt
both these propositions.

The philosophical debate about realism and anti-realism – which involves arguments
about, for example, sense experience, language, and the nature of knowledge
– is complex and … Read the rest

Students Just Sliding By *

Apr 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Survey of New York high school students finds them feeling unchallenged.… Read the rest

Appeals Panels Versus Teachers *

Apr 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

Teahers’ union calls for an end to panels that can force schools to take back pupils expelled for violence or threats.… Read the rest

Simple Gifts

Apr 22nd, 2003 9:52 pm | By

I linked to this essay about George Bush in the Atlantic Monthly a few days ago. I was and still am particularly interested in the depiction of Bush’s narrowness that Richard Brookhiser gives.

“Practically,” Brookhiser writes, “Bush’s faith means that he does not tolerate, or even recognize, ambiguity: there is an all-knowing God who decrees certain behaviors, and leaders must obey.” While this clear-cut belief structure enables him to make split-second decisions and take action with principled confidence, it also means that he is limited by “strictly defined mental horizons.”…”Bush may be a free-range animal, but he has a habitat, in which he stays. If he needs to know some facts that his advisers don’t know, he can discover them.

Read the rest

Could Do Better *

Apr 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Matt Ridley is making good progress in agreeing with Steven Rose, Steven Rose says. … Read the rest

SARS in a Wilderness of Mirrors

Apr 22nd, 2003 | By David Stanway

There is an old Chinese folk tale in which a fool
deposits 300 pieces of silver in a hole. In order to conceal his largesse, he
puts up a sign nearby to announce that “300 pieces of silver do not lie here.”
The moral of the tale was that the more you try to cover something up, the more
obvious it is that something is being concealed.

The Chinese government, fiercely vigilant when
it comes to any manifestation of press freedom, are learning this lesson the
hard way with regard to the viral condition known as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome. It used to be thought that in China, the only way of confirming if
a story was true … Read the rest