Custom Search

Monday, May 23, 2005

Excellent On-Line Essays on ID-related Topics

First, a note to those who wonder about slow blogging: I am a Toronto-based Canadian and this is Victoria Day.

Victoria was Queen of England from 1837 to 1903. She promoted a genteel tradition of life, much missed by people who have endured graffiti-level music and art, and live in graffiti-level buildings and shop in graffiti-adorned malls. Enough, long ago, already, and way, way over the top.

Traditionally, we Canadians garden today. There is no tradition here re blogging, at present. However I am blogging today (somewhat late) anyway for your convenience and my pleasure, because I did pick up some stuff over the weekend, in particular, recent articles that people who are interested in the intelligent design controversy might like to curl up after a chilly day in the garden and read:

On media bias:
John Leo comments at Jewish World Review

The disdain that so many reporters have for the military (or for police, the FBI, conservative Christians, or right-to-lifers) frames the way that errors and bogus stories tend to occur. The antimilitary mentality makes atrocity stories easier to publish, even when they are untrue. The classic example is CNN's false 1998 story that the U.S. military knowingly dropped nerve gas on Americans during the Vietnam War. On the other hand, brutal treatment of dissenters by Fidel Castro tends to be softened or omitted in the American press because so many journalists still see him as the romanticized figure from their youth in the 1960s. Another example: It's possible to read newspapers and newsmagazines carefully and never see anything about the liberal indoctrination now taking place at major universities. This has something to do with the fact that the universities are mostly institutions of the left and that newsrooms tend to hire from the left and from the universities in question. This has something to do with the fact that the universities are mostly institutions of the left and that newsrooms tend to hire from the left and from the universities in question.

Yes indeed. And a similar bias drenches any discussion of Darwinism in the classroom or the science journal. It is assumed that everyone who doubts Darwinism has some evil agenda (even if their reason for doubt is the attempt to ground Darwinism in a laughably trivial occurrence in nature), and that everyone who unhesitatingly supports Darwinism under all circumstances is some kind of a hero rather than, possibly, a stooge.

Philosophers still have trouble determining whether there is such a thing as truth, even though we all know there is:

Despite its subtitle, Truth is less a guide for the perplexed than a guided tour hrough the philosophical perplexities in which, despite three millennia of hard thinking, man is still mired. Time it is that defeats all our attempts to fix reality, facts, truth. Perhaps it would be possible to glimpse the really existing truth of things if we could halt the onward rush of time, but we cannot, hence we are left floundering in a Heraclitean flux, a blurred immanence which we call reality. For all the excitement of the chase after truth, perhaps we would do best to follow the example of the ancient sceptics, for whom, Blackburn writes, "it was an admirable consequence of their scepticism that they lost conviction, lost enthusiasm as it were for holding one opinion rather than another. With epoche or suspension of judgment, came the desired ataraxia or tranquillity.

One suspects Professor Blackburn would deplore any such retreat into quietistic bliss, and would instead admonish us with the title of another of his books: Think.

Could math be going postmodern?

Is math going post-modern?

People are now claiming proofs for two of the most famous problems in mathematics - the Riemann Hypothesis and the Poincare Conjecture - yet it is far from easy to tell whether either claim is valid. In the first case the purported proof is so long and the mathematics so obscure no one wants to spend the time checking through its hundreds of pages for fear they may be wasting their time. In the second case, a small army of experts has spent the last two years poring over the equations and still doesn't know whether they add up.

In popular conception, mathematics is the ultimate resolvable discipline, immune to the epistemological murkiness that so bedevils other fields of knowledge in this relativistic age. Yet Philip Davis, emeritus professor of mathematics at Brown University, has pointed out recently that mathematics also is "a multi-semiotic enterprise" prone to ambiguity and definitional drift.
(One hopes it isn't that bad.

As it happens, you would have to pay for the rest of this article.)

"Chess and the Cold War" addresses the ways in which the game that was supposed to be the ultimate test of man vs. machine was far more an example of a test of one political system against another.

For example, "Kasparov's chess record outshines all others, but it was his (wholly unnecessary) defeat by the computer Deep Blue in May 1997 that left the deepest mark. Many assumed that chess as a game was now "solved," even though grandmasters continued to defeat even the best computers.


To find out more about my book on the intelligent design controversy, go to By Design or by Chance?

Who links to me?