A Case of the Mondays: The Next Wave Will Have to Wait

A charitable way of describing Jessica Valenti’s book, Full Frontal Feminism, is that it fails to reach out to anyone. People who already read feminist weblogs, such as Valenti’s Feministing, will already know everything Valenti says in her book. People who do not will find it either incomprehensible or unappealing. Less charitably, Valenti’s writing ranges…

A Case of the Mondays: Books About Decline

Environmentalists have been writing apocalyptic books for decades, but in recent years, more mainstream figures have written about the possible decline of current civilization. Jared Diamond’s Collapse concentrates on environmental pressure; Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead (largely motivated by the same work as Collapse—Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel) is more economic. Yet other works moralize…

A Case of the Mondays: The Blank Slate and Other Phantom Theories

Reading Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate reminded me of most other polemical books I’d read that attempt to integrate some science into their works. In theory it’s a science book, a longwinded defense of both evolutionary psychology and its obvious social implications. But in practice, it’s mostly a political book; the science is provided only…

A Case of the Mondays: Religion is Like Race

A lot of secularists mistakenly believe that religious discrimination is somehow different from racial discrimination. The tipping point that drove me to write this article was reading about Sam Harris’s beliefs about the acceptability of denying Muslims basic civil rights. Since being religious is a choice, the argument goes, there’s no real analogy between religion…

A Case of the Mondays: Science is Cumulative

Crossposted to Abstract Nonsense Science is a cumulative process. Although as Thomas Kuhn noted, scientific paradigms overthrow earlier paradigms and bring forth brand new theories, the process remains almost linearly progressive. Facts get tacked onto other facts; new observations falsify theories or prove them more solid; methods improve as scientists’ understanding of measurement and statistics…