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Emanuel

New York Times Magazine profiles Rahm Emanuel.

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Moral Psychology

Jonathan Haidt: Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion here.

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Missing Bush

Stanley Fish on missing Bush.

I know you’re not supposed to, but I just love to say I told you so.

What I told you back on Sept. 28, 2008, was that within a year of the day he left office George W. Bush would come to be regarded with affection and a little nostalgia. The responses (over 300 before the comments were closed) to that prediction were overwhelmingly negative; even the very few who agreed with me attributed what they took to be a sad fact to the stupidity of the American people. The other 290 or so said things like “No way”; “Are you kidding?”; ”Are you mad?”;“What a ridiculous and insulting premise!”; “I’ll miss him like a rash”; “This must be a satire”; “Bush is a sociopath”; “George Bush has destroyed this country”; “History won’t forgive him”; and (a popular favorite) “I hate the man.”

Well it’s a bit more than a year now and signs of Bush’s rehabilitation are beginning to pop up. One is literally a sign, a billboard that appeared recently on I-35 in Minnesota. Occupying the right side (from the viewer’s viewpoint) is a picture of Bush smiling genially and waving his hand in a friendly gesture. Occupying the left side is a simple and direct question: “Miss me yet?” The image is all over the Internet, hundreds of millions of hits, and unscientific Web-based polls indicate that more do miss him than don’t.

More at the NYT.

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Scientism

The first of a two part article by Edward Feser, Blinded by Scientism.

Scientism is the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science. There is at least a whiff of scientism in the thinking of those who dismiss ethical objections to cloning or embryonic stem cell research as inherently “anti-science.” There is considerably more than a whiff of it in the work of New Atheist writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who allege that because religion has no scientific foundation (or so they claim) it “therefore” has no rational foundation at all. It is evident even in secular conservative writers like John Derbyshire and Heather MacDonald, whose criticisms of their religious fellow right-wingers are only slightly less condescending than those of Dawkins and co. Indeed, the culture at large seems beholden to an inchoate scientism—“faith” is often pitted against “science” (even by those friendly to the former) as if “science” were synonymous with “reason.”

Despite its adherents’ pose of rationality, scientism has a serious problem: it is either self-refuting or trivial. Take the first horn of this dilemma. The claim that scientism is true is not itself a scientific claim, not something that can be established using scientific methods. Indeed, that science is even a rational form of inquiry (let alone the only rational form of inquiry) is not something that can be established scientifically. For scientific inquiry itself rests on a number of philosophical assumptions: that there is an objective world external to the minds of scientists; that this world is governed by causal regularities; that the human intellect can uncover and accurately describe these regularities; and so forth. Since science presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle. And if it cannot even establish that it is a reliable form of inquiry, it can hardly establish that it is the only reliable form. Both tasks would require “getting outside” science altogether and discovering from that extra-scientific vantage point that science conveys an accurate picture of reality—and in the case of scientism, that only science does so.

Read more here.

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Ross Douthat

Mother Jones takes a look at Ross Douthat.

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Ripping Darwin

Philosophers Rip Darwin by Michael Ruse. See here.

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A Slaughter

Muslims slaughter more than 500 Christians in Nigeria.

Survivors said the attackers were able to separate the Fulanis from members of the rival Berom group by chanting ‘nagge’, the Fulani word for cattle. Those who failed to respond in the same language were hacked to death.

One local paper said the gangs shouted Allah Akhbar (God is Great) before breaking into homes and setting them alight in the early hours of Sunday. Churches were among the buildings that were burned down.

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Black Theology

Check out this excerpt (pdf) of Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America by Anthony B. Bradley.

When the beliefs of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, assumed the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign, the influence of black liberation theology became hotly debated not just within theological circles but across cultural lines. How many of today’s African-American congregations-and how many Americans in general-have been shaped by its view of blacks as perpetual victims of white oppression?

In this interdisciplinary, biblical critique of the black experience in America, Anthony Bradley introduces audiences to black liberation theology and its spiritual and social impact. He starts with James Cone’s proposition that the “victim” mind-set is inherent within black consciousness. Bradley then explores how such biblical misinterpretation has historically hindered black churches in addressing the diverse issues of their communities and prevented adherents from experiencing the freedoms of the gospel. Yet Liberating Black Theology does more than consider the ramifications of this belief system; it suggests an alternate approach to the black experience that can truly liberate all Christ-followers.

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Geert Wilders IV

Geert Wilders spoke at the House of Lords in London last Friday and Power Line publishes most of the speech.

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Epiphany

Ross Douthat: Mass-Market Epiphany here.

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Willie Mays

Arguably the best baseball player of all-time was Willie Mays. The NYT reviews Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend by James S. Hirsch.

(h/t The Volokh Conspiracy)

UPDATE: And here’s an excerpt from the book.

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Thank You

Theodore Dalrymple: Thank You For Not Expressing Yourself. See here.

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A Better Teacher

New York Times Magazine: Building a Better Teacher.

On a winter day five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful career as a teacher, a principal and a charter-school founder, he was working as a consultant, hired by troubled schools eager — desperate, in some cases — for Lemov to tell them what to do to get better. There was no shortage of prescriptions at the time for how to cure the poor performance that plagued so many American schools. Proponents of No Child Left Behind saw standardized testing as a solution. President Bush also championed a billion-dollar program to encourage schools to adopt reading curriculums with an emphasis on phonics. Others argued for smaller classes or more parental involvement or more state financing.

Read the complete article here.

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The Open Internet

Wired on how our government is attempting to destroy the open internet.

Make no mistake, the military industrial complex now has its eye on the internet. Generals want to train crack squads of hackers and have wet dreams of cyberwarfare. Never shy of extending its power, the military industrial complex wants to turn the internet into yet another venue for an arms race.

And it’s waging a psychological warfare campaign on the American people to make that so. The military industrial complex is backed by sensationalism, and a gullible and pageview-hungry media. Notable examples include the New York Times’s John “We Need a New Internet” Markoff, 60 Minutes’ “Hackers Took Down Brazilian Power Grid,” and the WSJ’s Siobhan Gorman, who ominously warned in an a piece lacking any verifiable evidence, that Chinese and Russian hackers are already hiding inside the U.S. electrical grid.

Now the question is: Which of these events can be turned into a Gulf of Tonkin-like fakery that can create enough fear to let the military and the government turn the open internet into a controlled, surveillance-friendly net.

What do they dream of? Think of the internet turning into a tightly monitored AOL circa the early ’90s, run by CEO Big Brother and COO Dr. Strangelove.

Read the rest here.

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In Denial

The new cover story in the The Weekly Standard is In Denial: The Meltdown of the Climate Campaign by Steven F. Hayward.

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Gokey

Danny Gokey sang a single from his new album on American Idol last night. Here’s a NYT review of Gokey’s work.

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Science and Reason

Stephen Barr: Science, Reason, and Catholic Faith here.

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Oscar Nominations

Thomas S. Hibbs, dean of the honors college at Baylor University, writes about this year’s Oscar nominations.

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Peer Review

The truth about “peer review.”

Unfortunately, even with the best will in the world, peer reviewing is rarely an entirely disinterested process. All too often the system of peer review is infused with vested interests. As many of my colleagues in academia know, peer reviewing is frequently carried out through a kind of mates’ club, between friends and acquaintances, and all too often the question of who gets published and who gets rejected is determined by who you know and where you stand in a particular academic debate.

Read the rest here.

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Atheism is Odd

“Time to accept that atheism, not god, is odd.”

It appears that Enlightenment assumptions about the decline of religion as the population becomes more educated will no longer do – at least, not without considerable qualification. Why is it that, despite the long history of the study of religion, the picture seems to be getting more and not less confused about what it means to believe in God? We, and the scholars who gathered in December last year for a conference at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, think we may have the answer. The problems stem from a long-term, collective blind spot in research: atheism itself.

More.