Degrees of religion

Larry Moran quotes Jason Rosenhouse disputing Phil Plait: So, after all, that, let us return to Plait’s argument. He tells us that the problem is too many people perceiving evolution as a threat to their religious beliefs. Indeed, but why do they perceive it that way? Is it a failure of messaging on the part of Read More…

The discrimination of the age

There are many kinds of undue and harmful discrimination in modern society, all of which collectively tend to privilege a few. Women are treated with less respect and given fewer opportunities than men; heterosexuality is privileged over “deviant” forms of sexual identity and the alphabet community (currently LGBT and variants) has fewer rights than the Read More…

The problem with logic

When teaching students critical reasoning it is an article of faith that we should teach them logic. Of course, we ameliorate any benefit this might have by teaching it incomprehensibly and in artificial cases. But still, we believe logic is what is most important in philosophy and in culture generally. Ah, culture… in which someone Read More…

Humans are the only animals that…

Psychologist Daniel Gilbert once wrote on the unwritten vow taken by psychologists: Few people realise that psychologists also take a vow, promising that at some point in their professional lives they will publish a book, a chapter or at least an article that contains the sentence: ‘The human being is the only animal that…’ We Read More…

Education, Journalism and Science

My last rant was perhaps somewhat intemperate. Carl Zimmer, who along with Ed Yong I really respect as a science journalist, tweeted it with the line: @carlzimmer: Man, @john_s_wilkins does not like newspapers.  This is not quite true. I like some newspapers. I do not like the newspaper industry. I worked in various media positions Read More…

Drama, journalism and science

Recently the Jonah Lehrer scandal was raised again when he was paid $20,000 to speak on his journalistic dishonesty by the Knight Foundation. I cynically noted on Twitter that being honest and as accurate as I could be netted me exactly nothing in the way of honoraria (I think I got a bottle of scotch Read More…

More on reductionism

I am presently teaching in a history subject dealing with ideas of nature, and I notice that the historians we are using often refer to a distinction between reductionism and holism. The former is the Bad Old Science (“we murder to dissect”) and the latter is the New Improved Science. This is something often stated as Read More…

Thoughts on gun control

There had been the Weapons Law, for a start. Weapons were involved in so many crimes that, Swing reasoned, reducing the number of weapons *had* to reduce the crime rate. Vimes wondered if he’d sat up in bed in the middle of the night and hugged himself when he’d dreamed *that* one up. Confiscate all Read More…

Eww, I stepped in some evolutionary psychology and other crap

*Sigh* I try and try to stay out of the muck, but they keep pulling me back in! I saw what I thought was a careful and rather overly-documented critique by Edward Clint of a talk by Rebecca Watson against evolutionary psychology (EP). It was full of references and arguments, devoid of ad hominem, and well Read More…

Why is Darwin’s theory so controversial?

So asks this essay and gets the whole thing wrong. Darwin’s theories (plural) are not controversial because they imply that species are mutable. This was a widely held view by preachers, moralists, Aristotelians, naturalists, breeders, formalists, folk biology, and even biblical translators. Darwin was not controversial because he implied racist ideas about humans. He never Read More…