All entries by this author

Vice-Chancellor and Minister Disagree *

Feb 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Cambridge doesn’t attract enough working class students, says Hodge; it does, says Sir Alec.… Read the rest

Rebel From Newark *

Feb 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Leslie Fiedler loved to smash his own idols, could leave nothing unsaid, disdained subtleties, and crowed at the grave of modernism.… Read the rest

Stop That This Instant!

Feb 4th, 2003 8:10 pm | By

Oh my. We are in Alice country. A principal tells a teacher off because her students were engaged in an activity other than…watching television.

Why, the little slackers! The naughty little skivers! What were they doing? Talking? Throwing spit balls? Composing new rap lyrics? Copulating? No. They were…it’s almost too painful to relate…they were reading.

Well. We don’t want that kind of thing in the American school system, thank you. That sort of behavior leads to literacy, and elitism, and intellectual curiosity, and wanting to know more about things like history and philosophy. We don’t want that, now do we, no, because we’re glad to be a Beta. So the principal took to spying on the teacher to … Read the rest

Surveys, Damned Surveys and Statistics *

Feb 4th, 2003 | Filed by

Where is that evidence again?… Read the rest

Another ‘The Dog Ate My Data’ Case *

Feb 4th, 2003 | Filed by

This time it’s the pro-gun scholar who can’t find his figures.… Read the rest

Caught Reading in School! *

Feb 4th, 2003 | Filed by

Principal to teacher: your students were reading instead of watching television. Don’t let it happen again!… Read the rest

Free Speech For Me But Not For You *

Feb 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Radicals when on the bottom, censors when on top. Napoleon, anyone?… Read the rest

Celebrate or Be Dull, Ben Okri Says *

Feb 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Okri says Britain must respect its living writers.… Read the rest

Public Distrust of Science *

Feb 1st, 2003 | Filed by

The Royal Society is concerned about media coverage of new research before it has been peer reviewed (which does not mean checked by the House of Lords).… Read the rest

Caricature or Anti-Semitism? *

Feb 1st, 2003 | Filed by

Goya’s ‘Saturn Devouring his Children’ is a powerful piece of visual rhetoric. Is it anti-Semitic if Saturn is Sharon?… Read the rest

Newspaper Death Threats Cause Undergraduate Suspensions *

Jan 31st, 2003 | Filed by

‘It was fairly obviously a joke,’ says student editor of headline ‘Kill Levinsky, win a Robin reliant’. … Read the rest

Alas, Poor Roses *

Jan 31st, 2003 | Filed by

Oliver Curry reviews a collection of arguments against evolutionary psychology edited by Steven and Hilary Rose. He finds their case unconvincing, to say the least.… Read the rest

Fishy Tomatoes and Moneyish Rockets *

Jan 30th, 2003 | Filed by

Richard Dawkins suggests that subtle judgment is better than gut reactions, and that muddleheadedness helps no one.… Read the rest

Feds to Investigate Biology Professor *

Jan 30th, 2003 | Filed by

US professor, naturally enough, refuses to recommend students who don’t believe in evolution. But John Ashcroft is Attorney General.… Read the rest

Relatively Speaking

Jan 30th, 2003 | By Simon Blackburn

There are philosophers (‘absolutists’) who like to stress truth, objectivity, rationality, and knowledge. Then there are others (‘relativists’) who like to stress contingency, mutability, culture, historicity, situatedness. The first group think that the second group have no standards. The second group are accused of encouraging ‘postmodernism’, or the licentious thinking and bullshitting that goes on in some parts of the humanities. The second group think the first group are conservative and complacent, and that their words simply mark fetishes.

I like to illustrate the way these groups talk past each other with an anecdote of a friend of mine (I apologise to readers of my book Being Good, where I also tell this story). He was present at a … Read the rest

Not Just a Fashion Problem

Jan 29th, 2003 10:37 pm | By

This is a frustrating but typical article about psychoanalysis in the New York Times. It talks about the long time analysis takes and how expensive it tends to be, but entirely fails to address the very serious substantive questions there are about the scientific status of psychoanalysis: questions about evidence, falsifiability, and outright dishonesty on the part of Freud. The news seems still not to have reached the general public, including even the branch of it that writes for the newpapers, that psychoanalysis is not just out of fashion, not just not altogether cool anymore, but rather, largely considered a fraud by scientists in the field.

The article presents a false dichotomy throughout, between cheap and quick fixes on the … Read the rest

Made-Up History *

Jan 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Someone saw some armor sometime and said it was authentic but where the armor is now, no one knows.… Read the rest

Six Years and $60,000 *

Jan 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Imagine what six years reading $60 k worth of decent books about subjects other than oneself might have done…… Read the rest

Just Say No!

Jan 28th, 2003 5:53 pm | By

Since everybody and their dog seem to be sending me anti-war petitions, I thought I’d get in on the act.*

Dear Friend

As the world slides towards war in Iraq, we all feel at times as though we
are powerless. Well we are. But let’s just pretend for a minute that we’re
not. It will make us feel better, honestly.

No-one likes war, right? So we’d better oppose this one, right?

Please send this email on to everyone you know NOW!


We, the undersigned, have no idea to whom this petition is being sent or how
seriously it will be taken. We don’t like the idea of war in Iraq and so are
prepared to … Read the rest

Satire Confusingly Like Real Life *

Jan 28th, 2003 | Filed by

The Onion on pity for skeptics. Sounds all too familiar.… Read the rest