Friday, 13 April 2007


I’m tingling with excitement over Sunday’s Hell of the North (Paris-Roubaix), which will be shown on tape delay on Versus at 4:00 Central Time. Here is what the riders have to look forward to. Here is a video clip from the 2006 edition. If it doesn’t give you chills, there is no hope for you.


Is it racist to let race affect one’s choice of a romantic partner? See here. By the way, why are we talking about race? I thought race didn’t exist. Perhaps it exists only when progressives make use of it, as in affirmative action. And isn’t it sexist to suggest that a woman is willing to date a man only because of his income? Aren’t women supposed to be self-sufficient, independent, and ambitious? Moreover, doesn’t this entire line of research normalize (or normativize, or privilege) heterosexuality? Where are the studies of homosexual preference? It’s like walking in a minefield!


Here, for your Friday evening reading pleasure, is an essay about evangelicals. I used to subscribe to this publication (The New York Review of Books), but I eventually tired of its relentless Bush-bashing. The contributors appeared to be trying to outdo one another in expressing their hatred for the president (and, more generally, in opposing the United States). I now visit online every now and then. Much of the material is available for free. Why pay for it?

Addendum: Oops! I forgot the first law of economics: TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). One “pays” for the review essays by looking at advertisements. Truth be told, I don’t look at advertisements. I have long since trained myself not to. So, in effect, I’m getting the essays for nothing. Does that mean I’m stealing? Do I have a moral obligation to look at advertisements as a way of compensating the site owner for the material I “take”? If so, how long do I have to look? Must I think as well as look? Must I go even further and buy the good or service being advertised? It’s so confusing! I want to do the right thing; I just don’t know what it is.


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.

Academic Dogmatism

I’m astounded by the reaction of SMU faculty members to a proposed on-campus conference on Design Theory. If the theory is unscientific, as is often claimed by Darwinists, it should be easy for the philosophers on the SMU faculty to explain why. Are they unsure in their own minds what distinguishes science from nonscience? If not, why the reluctance to explain it to an audience? Are they afraid that, when the audience hears both sides of the story, the audience will disagree with them? But why not trust the members of the audience to exercise their own judgment? No arguer can control the reaction of one’s interlocutor. All one can do is make the best case one can and let the chips fall where they may. Imagine a scientist who refused to test a theory for fear that it might be refuted, or a philosopher who refused to argue for fear that the argument might be criticized.

If Design Theory is bad science, rather than no science at all (a bad X is still an X), it should be easy for the scientists on the SMU faculty to explain why. Surely they understand the criteria by which scientific theories and hypotheses are confirmed and refuted. They use these criteria in their work, day in and day out. Why not explain this to the audience, so that the audience acquires an understanding of how science works? Are they unsure in their own minds what the criteria are? Are they unable to articulate the criteria? Are they unsure whether Darwinism will come across as superior to Design Theory when the criteria are articulated and applied?

It’s all very puzzling, and I’m not just saying that for effect. I don’t understand why SMU faculty members wouldn’t relish the opportunity to demolish a “theory” that “competes” with their own. What better way to put it to rest? What better way to demonstrate your intellectual prowess? What better way to educate the public? Isn’t academia precisely where this sort of discussion/debate should take place? What are SMU’s faculty members afraid of? If I were a student at SMU, I’d be ashamed of my professors. They are acting like religious fundamentalists rather than veracious inquirers. What sort of lesson does this convey to students, other than that might makes right, or that political power is more important than intellectual power, or that certain ideas are too dangerous to be entertained?

Addendum: I don’t think SMU’s faculty members realize how they appear to the general public. People think their reluctance to debate is rooted in fear—of being defeated in a fair contest. The impression is of scientists clinging to their theory for dear life, knowing (or suspecting) that it can’t be defended intellectually. In short, the faculty members who oppose the conference come across as insecure, uncertain, weak, and dogmatic. This can’t but do long-term damage to SMU’s reputation. Ironically, it’s concern for reputation that motivates some of them to oppose the conference. They think it will make SMU look bad in the eyes of the nation. Ha! This makes you wonder about their intelligence. Intelligent people do not engage in self-defeating, self-destructive behavior.

R. M. Hare (1919-2002) on Akrasia

Our morality is formed of principles and ideals which we do not succeed in persuading ourselves to fulfil. And this inability to realize our ideals is well reflected in the highly significant names given in both Greek and English to this condition: Greek calls it akrasia—literally ‘not being strong enough (sc. to control oneself)’; and English calls it ‘moral weakness’ or ‘weakness of will’.

(R. M. Hare, Freedom and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963], 77 [italics in original])

Evolution News & Views

This site should be of interest to my readers. I will add it to the blogroll. I discovered it (no pun intended) while searching for this op-ed column, which appeared in Tuesday’s print edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

So, presumed guilty by fashionable black-white, rich-poor, athlete-nonathlete stereotypes, Duke’s lacrosse players turn out to be innocent victims.

I saw and despised Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. But McCarthyism never gained a tenth the oppressive mind control of today’s academic and media political correctness.

Charles Fred
Maspeth, Queens, April 12, 2007

To the Editor:

The defense attorneys also pilloried the press for piling on early in the Duke rape case investigation. The Times should examine its reporting in this case and report to us, its loyal readers, as to how it contributed or did not contribute to this miscarriage of justice.

Henry Belch
Fairfax, Va., April 12, 2007

Note from KBJ: That we no longer expect The New York Times to be fair and balanced shows how far it has strayed from journalism.

A Year Ago