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Category Archive: History

Mar 31 2014

Yes, really

Yet another critic of Cosmos speaks out on Giordano Bruno. This time it’s Andrew Sullivan, who first complains about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “style”, calls him intrusive and silly, and then gets to the real complaint: he dissed the Catholic Church. David Sessions pans it. The segment previewed above is on the 16th century priest and …

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Mar 23 2014

The Eugenics Creed

Salon has a good essay on Charles Davenport, a prominent American biologist from the first half of the 20th century who was one of the loudest voices promoting the eugenics movement. Oh, let’s call it what it was: the Wealthy White Racist movement. It begins with the tale of Carrie Buck, as was previously told …

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Mar 15 2014

Don’t you just love seeing ignorance get smacked?

Ah, racists…simultaneously so smug and so stupid. One racist white guy wrote in anonymously to People of Color in European Art History with a slightly leading question: Can you explain why Europeans were much more technologically advanced than the indigenous populations of Africa? I mean, these cultures hadn’t even invented sewage systems, which is something …

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Mar 15 2014

Missing the point of Giordano Bruno

I’m seeing a lot of silly carping about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos — almost all of it is focused on the story of Bruno told in the first episode. The apologists for religion are upset: how dare a science program point out the poisonous influence of religion? Bruno wasn’t really a scientist anyway, so he …

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Feb 25 2014

A magnificent denunciation of libertarian revision

Really. It’s terrific. Watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from yesterday. The Daily Show Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook

Feb 12 2014

I shall not even try to list all the things science has failed to anticipate

Help me wrap my brain around this tweet. I can’t grok it. Philosophers' historic failure to anticipate Darwin is a severe indictment of philosophy. Happy Darwin Day! — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) February 12, 2014 Philosophers’ historic failure to anticipate Darwin is a severe indictment of philosophy. Happy Darwin Day! John Wilkins isn’t helping. @pzmyers @RichardDawkins …

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Feb 12 2014

Happy Darwin Day!

Charles_and_Catherine_Darwin,_1816,_by_Sharples

I thought I’d include a picture of the young Charles Darwin, since we are celebrating his birthday today. That’s him in 1816, when he was 6 or 7 years old, with his younger sister, Emily Catherine Darwin. And then I started wondering about that other person in the picture. Darwin’s sisters were an extremely important …

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Jan 20 2014

Despair at the movies

We just got back home from Twelve Years a Slave. Throughout that movie, all I could think is, “we human beings did that to other human beings? We suck.” Now how am I supposed to get to sleep with that kind of disgust for humanity on my mind? (It was still the best movie I’ve …

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Jan 11 2014

Brace yourself for August

I know most of my readers are Americans, and the United States media will not have much to say (other than to sound an occasional note of triumphalism), but if you’re at all informed about the world, you should be thinking about WWI this summer — it will be the centenary of the beginning of …

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Dec 31 2013

Emma’s tragic story

It’s really, really cold out there. Here in Morris, we’re deep in the deep freeze, in a place where exposed flesh only stings for a little while before the skin goes novocaine numb and you begin to worry that ice crystals are killing your dermis; where I live across the street from my office and …

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