Why do believers believe silly things? The function of denialism

Bishop Butler wrote in a sermon in 1729: Things and actions are what they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be: why, then, should we desire to be deceived? [Sermon 7] It’s an interesting question. Why should we seek to be deceived about the consequences of our actions and the 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…

Why anti science?

Over the past few decades there has been an increasingly negative attitude by governments, pundits, religiosi and faux philosophers against science. We have seen an increase in denialism about climate change (one of the most well supported scientific models of the day), vaccination, evolution, medical research in general, and the ancillary aspects of science like Read More…

On knowing the rules

The reader may have become aware of some examples of sexual harassment on the interwubs lately. I do not propose to get involved or to make detailed comment as I do not know much about the cases apart from what has been mentioned online. I take it as read these are echt cases of sexual Read More…

Are smarter people irreligious or just nonconformists?

There’s been a lot of discussion around the traps that studies show repeatedly that those who are atheists or otherwise irreligious are on average a bit smarter than those who aren’t. The usual ballyhoo has followed, with atheists claiming that religion makes you stupid or only stupid people follow religions, etc. I want to suggest Read More…

Scientists and history

Recently, historian of medicine Edward Shorter made the following comment [follow link for a good discussion]: Historians aren’t as interested [in his work] because they aren’t intellectually equipped to study that kind of thing. Most of them don’t have a scientific background. They can’t get into detailed discussions of therapies because they aren’t well informed about Read More…

Are humans just animals?

Yesterday I heard on the radio a discussion by neuroscientist turned philosopher Raymond Tallis, who was arguing that humans are not just animals, and that consciousness is not just what happens in the brain. He went on at length about “Darwinitis”, a disease of intellectuals who wish to explain everything in terms of Darwinism. It Read More…

Evopsychopathy 5: Conclusion

The criticisms of evolutionary psychology and its predecessors sociobiologies 1 through 3 focus on three major points: 1. It is adaptively-biased; 2. It is gene-centric (or biological determinist, which amounts to the same thing); 3. It is culturally biased in favour of the privileged classes of the people making the claims. I hope I have Read More…

Evopsychopathy 3: The explanatory target

In the Bad Old Days, biologists, including Darwin, used to speak of “instinct” as an inherited trait of organisms. Darwin has a comment in his Notebooks It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another. — We consider those, when the intellectual faculties [/] cerebral structure most developed, as highest. — A 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…