The course is taught by a homeopath

Apparently the University of Toronto thinks it’s fine to teach medical woo at a university, not as a meta subject but just plain as a subject. Jen Gunter is not amused.

Earlier this year, two groups of academics at the University of Toronto wrote letters of concern to the President of the University to protest an Alternative health course that fostered distrust of vaccines, cited Andrew Wakefield, and completely mis-applied Quantum Mechanics to explain a bevy of bizarre health claims. This week, the school finally addressed their claims; and the university’s response is both wholly inadequate and totally baffling.

The course, Alternative Health: Practice and Theory is taught by Beth Landau-Halpern, a homeopath. During week 9 of her curriculum, she addresses: “Vaccination — The King of Controversy.”

No medical, nursing, or basic biology/immunology textbooks or articles are referenced in the required reading, nor is any information from Health Canada or the World Health Organization. Instead, the required reading and additional information for the students includes Andrew Wakefield (who lost his medical license for falsifying data in a now beyond-infamous retracted study) and anti-vaccine propaganda sites.

[Read more…]

His real subject

Because of a stupid time-wasting SIWOTI argument I’m having with a tedious prolix humorless commenter in an earlier thread about Howard Jacobson’s reactionary rant about Tim Hunt in the Independent, I want to make clear how strongly Jacobson did imply that Hunt was “hounded out of a job.”

He starts with three paragraphs riffing on personal grooming with a specific focus on nose hair, claiming to be deeply concerned with it himself in contrast to other sorts of people who are not so concerned.

We shouldn’t be too hard on vanity. It can be a mark of respect for the world. The day I don’t attend to my nostrils is the day I will have forsworn that world and become a different person. Someone otherwise preoccupied. Someone who couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of his appearance, someone for whom the material life has lost its appeal. I will have retreated into myself, to that place where eccentricity and maybe even madness reside. Science, perhaps.

He’s joking, of course. Novelists aren’t generally considered worldly and respectable in contrast to those zany scientists. [Read more…]

The yacht has nothing to do with it


Rebecca Carroll at the Guardian explains how feminist Rihanna’s video is.

Helen Lewis of the New Statesman wrote that the video is not feminist “because it is not very feminist to torture women. Even if they are white. Even if they are rich. Even if you are a woman yourself.” By those standards, I have a thing or two to say about a whole history of white women who abused black women both because they were black and because they were women, and yet, somehow, are still considered feminists – many regarded as pioneers. Women from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who did not believe black women deserved any such rights as white women, to Miley Cyrus, who has used black women as stage props.

[Read more…]

If you disagree, just delete everything

This from the NSS is alarming.

The Manchester Free Speech and Secular Society’s website has been deleted, shortly after the group received a message warning they would “feel remorse” if they didn’t stop criticising Islamic fundamentalism.

The Free Speech and Secular Society (FSS) was sent a message, from an IP address in Saudi Arabia, which warned: “Please stop mocking Muslims otherwise you will feel remorse.”

[Read more…]

He was just helping them have a nice nap

There it is.

Bill Cosby admitted in 2005 that he got quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with, and that he gave the sedative to at least one woman and “other people,” according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

“Have sex with” isn’t quite the right way of putting what he wanted to do to the luded women.

The AP had gone to court to compel the release of the documents from the deposition in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand — the first of a cascade of sexual abuse lawsuits against him. Cosby’s lawyers had objected on the grounds that it would embarrass their client.

Cosby settled that lawsuit under confidential terms in 2006.

[Read more…]


The other day I recommended David Oshinsky’s book Worse Than Slavery to a friend; he’s finding it painful to read. I’ve read it more than once, and read a chunk of it again after recommending it. It’s a horrific and brutal story – and one that every American should know inside out.

From a review at H-net by Robert M. Goldman (Virginia Union University):

The Parchman Farm story begins with the Reconstruction era. Determined to overthrow Republican regimes, Mississipians devised what would become the model for Democratic redemption elsewhere, the so-called “Mississippi Plan.” It elements were straightforward enough. Use whatever means necessary, from fraud to murderous violence, to regain political control. It worked, and by 1875 Democratic legislatures were back in control and immediately set out to resolve what they considered to be two key problems: a shortage of labor, and the need to restore white supremacy. Criminal statutes were enacted such as the “Pig Law” in which theft of a farm animal worth more than ten dollars was punishable by up to five years in prison. Along with laws such as these, which were almost always aimed at the thousands of poor freedmen, was the “Leasing Act.” This statute allowed convicts to be leased out if their sentences were less than ten years. Since whites were usually only charged and convicted for the most serious of crimes, their sentences entitled them to the relative safety of the state penitentiary at Jackson. [Read more…]

A position different from all other subject classes

How about some John Stuart Mill.

[excitedly] Yes, please! What shall we have?

The Subjection of Women.

All causes, social and natural, combine to make it unlikely that women should be collectively rebellious to the power of men. They are so far in a position different from all other subject classes, that their masters require something more from them than actual service. Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments. All men, except the most brutish, desire to have, in the woman most nearly connected with them, not a forced slave but a willing one, not a slave merely, but a favourite. They have therefore put everything in practice to enslave their minds. [Read more…]

Droning on about their fetishes

Another one from The Onion: S&M Couple Won’t Stop Droning On About Their Fetishes.

According to friends of Jason Roder and Gina Von Poppel, the sexually adventurous couple won’t stop droning on about spanking, caning, ball gags, erotic photography, fetish parties, leather, rubber, PVC, latex, whips, floggers, and countless other S&M-related objects and activities.

“When Jason first told me about his and Gina’s kinky sex life, I was amazed. I wanted to hear all about it,” said Stan Pritchard, Roder’s best friend. “But around the 15th time I heard about how great it is to be tied to a chair, I was, like, ‘Yeah, I know. The chair. The whip. Being straddled. Got it, thanks.'”

How sex-negative of him. [Read more…]

Tell the lie again and again

The Big Lie is repeated yet again. The Washington Examiner this time. In the second sentence of the very first paragraph, so that readers will have the story wrong from the outset. Yay journalism.

Professor Sir Tim Hunt had won every honor in his field, from Fellowship of the Royal Society to the Nobel Prize. But last month, the pioneering biochemist was dismissed from his post at University College, London (UCL).

From “his post,” the one that didn’t exist. UCL has never employed Tim Hunt. Tim Hunt has never worked for UCL.

The second paragraph introduces the lynch mob – instigated by a black woman, for extra points. [Read more…]

The militants that never were

Chris Moos writes about the rise of the university faith warrior at The Freethinker.

British universities might not seem to be the most fertile ground for the faith warrior. After all, most of them have been built on secular principles. And yet, it is in British academia that a new breed of faith warrior is pushing for power. Ideologically and financially, they are propelled by the various strands of the international religious far-right and their allies on the post-modernist left. And their influence is growing.

The star among them is Craig Calhoun, Director of the London School of Economics, whom we read about via the NSS yesterday. Chris’s article was the source of the NSS piece.

Calhoun has just published a paper with the Leadership in Higher Education Foundation. The thrust of his argument is that in our “postsecular society”, “religion needs attention in scholarship, research and teaching because it is important in the world”.

Of course, it is the hallmark of religious privilege to demand a share of the public space simply by reason of self-ascribed importance, while failing to provide any convincing argument for this demand.

[Read more…]