All entries by this author

The PC Tyranny

Nov 20th, 2002 | By Lou Marinoff

political correctness (noun): conformity to a belief that language and
practices which could offend political sensibilities should be eliminated.
Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

I’ve been invited to write about political correctness and philosophy
in the North American academy. What qualifies me? I’m a refugee
from political correctness. I emigrated from Canada to the USA because
of an insidious quota system, euphemistically called ’employment
equity’, which decrees that there are too many white male philosophers
in Canadian universities. The Nuremburg Laws excluded Jews from
Nazified German universities because we were ‘non-Aryan’; Jews are
now excluded from Canadian universities because we are ‘white’.
This is a compelling irony. It compelled me to get the hell out.

Before quitting Canada in 1994, I … Read the rest

Question Which Assumptions?

Nov 19th, 2002 4:55 pm | By

There’s a dreary little … Read the rest

Neoclassical Economics and Evidence *

Nov 19th, 2002 | Filed by

An experiment shows that, contrary to neoclassical market theory, efficiency can depend on experience.… Read the rest

Drones should leave school at 14 *

Nov 19th, 2002 | Filed by

School leaving age should be tied to needs of economy, boffin says. But what of education as a good in itself?… Read the rest

Science is Self-correcting *

Nov 18th, 2002 | Filed by

Because scientists often disagree, therefore we might as well believe whatever we like? Scientific American says No.… Read the rest

History and Truth, Again *

Nov 17th, 2002 | Filed by

Is natural science a better model for historians than social science?… Read the rest

Between Tabloid and Treatise *

Nov 16th, 2002 | Filed by

An anthology of the best of Lingua Franca, and its ‘mingling of intellectual excitement with human folly and intrigue peculiar to academia.’… Read the rest

Immortal Roswell *

Nov 16th, 2002 | Filed by

Archaeologists have investigated the crash site of either a weather balloon or an alien ship. If they find it was the former, will the alien story go away?… Read the rest

Germaine Greer in Piss-taking Mode *

Nov 16th, 2002 | Filed by

A mix of fanciful evolutionary psychology, teasing and polemic for weekend reading.… Read the rest

Elitism, Egalitarianism, Passionate Attraction

Nov 15th, 2002 7:16 pm | By

An interesting article in the Guardian discusses the paradoxical way the discoveries of ultra-elitist Newton were found by Voltaire and the Encyclopaedists, Jefferson and Adams and Franklin, Saint-Simon and Fourier, to be full of progressive implications. Gravity affects all people everywhere, which made Newton the supreme philosopher of equality during the French Revolution. Fourier connected the gravitational principle of “passionate attraction” with the free love of his Utopian communities. And oddest of all, “in the debate between John Adams and Benjamin Franklin over a unicameral or bicameral legislature, it was an appeal to Newton that resolved the dispute. Adams argued that only a system with both a House of Representatives and a Senate conformed to Newton’s third law of motion: … Read the rest

Newton the Inadvertent Egalitarian *

Nov 15th, 2002 | Filed by

Gravity is the great equalizer, it makes the rich fall down with the poor.… Read the rest

18 to 34 Nirvana

Nov 14th, 2002 4:11 pm | By

There is a story in today’s Guardian about US newspapers competing to attract the ever-popular 18 to 34 year old “market”. Apparently they are crashing into one another and banging heads in a foolish way in Chicago, as each tries to be dumber than the other. The whole subject gives one a feeling of despair. It is so taken for granted that the point of the enterprise is for newspapers to insinuate their way into everyone’s wallets. It is made so drearily obvious that the actual dissemination or clarification of news and knowledge and understanding is just a kind of pretext for or prettification of the real work of delivering customers to advertisers. Is it any wonder that alien abductions … Read the rest

Amanda Foreman on Biography *

Nov 14th, 2002 | Filed by

What is history, what is theory, is biography a branch of history or is it creative writing (let’s hope not!), is theory as important as research, do readers want narrative, and more questions.… Read the rest

What works versus what ought to work *

Nov 13th, 2002 | Filed by

James Traub on the conflict between research and ideology in US education, where a priori beliefs have ‘tremendous force’ in shaping judgments of effectiveness.… Read the rest

Fantasy and Skepticism

Nov 12th, 2002 6:11 pm | By

SciTech Daily Review currently has a link to this highly interesting 1996 article from the Skeptical Inquirer. It cites studies by George Gerbner and others that say people who watch a lot of television are more likely (than those who don’t) to be hostile to science and friendly toward pseudoscience, including after controlling for education and other variables. It then goes on to detail the way science and skepticism are the bad guys in several movies and tv shows, while nice, regular, credulous people are the goodies. Of course, this has been true as long as the ghost story has existed (which is probably as long as humans have), because it’s such an excellent device, to have a lot … Read the rest

Pooh Goes PoMo *

Nov 12th, 2002 | Filed by

Frederick Crews updates his perplexed Pooh with lashings of jargon, obscurantism, and pretention.… Read the rest

Bernard Williams Talks to Guardian Readers *

Nov 12th, 2002 | Filed by

The philosopher answers questions on the Guardian’s Discussion Board, including one from Butterflies and Wheels.… Read the rest

The last hope *

Nov 11th, 2002 | Filed by

Surely adult education is the best weapon against woolly thinking. It would be nice if it could be well funded.… Read the rest

British Academy prize shortlist

Nov 11th, 2002 1:22 am | By

This is an exhilarating article in the Guardian about the six books on the shortlist for the British Academy prize, “launched last year to celebrate the best of accessible scholarly writing within the humanities and social sciences.” What an excellent idea for a prize. Two words that don’t normally seem to go together–accessible and scholarly–joined up and rewarded. Accessible scholarly writing is perhaps my favorite kind of reading, there is a lot of it about, and more attention should be paid to it. It always strikes me as odd how much more glory there is in writing fiction, even (all too often) quite mediocre fiction, than there is in writing good or even brilliant history or biography or sociology or … Read the rest

Is Grade Inflation Real? *

Nov 10th, 2002 | Filed by

Or are there other explanations. ‘Maybe instructors used to be too stingy with their marks and have become more reasonable.’ Hmm.… Read the rest