Egotism disguised as piety

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 20 October 2006. When believers complain that atheists are out to restrict their legitimate right to self-expression, they have completely lost the plot. In a Guardian article on religious expression, Stephen Beer of the Christian Socialist Movement erects a straw giant – a virtual […]

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Sulking in the corner of Europe

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 19 October 2006. The European Union has its faults, but the biggest problem is member state governments, not the Commission or Parliament. During a speech on Monday of this week, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso effectively challenged the two likely contenders for the […]

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There be no dragons

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 13 October 2006. Biotechnology promises much, but it’s in everyone’s interest that we proceed with cautious optimism and not cut corners with research. Debate surrounding the promises and pitfalls of genetic engineering and other biotechnologies is often polarised, with vested interests on both sides […]

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What defines a “scientific expert”?

How can a sociologist pass himself off convincingly as a physicist? Slate magazine has an article reporting on a sociologist who posed as a physicist and managed to convince a number of experts. The case is reported also by OpenScience and Daniel Davies. Professor Harry Collins conducts sociological research into ‘expertise’, but has also a […]

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Age discrimination outlawed. So what?

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 2 October 2006. Age discrimination in employment is now illegal in the UK. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, which follow an EU directive, make it unlawful to discriminate against workers under the age of 65 on grounds of age. Fantastic, you might be […]

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Whither Swedish social democracy?

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 20 September 2006. The general election defeat of the Swedish social democrats may bring joy to Nordic liberals, but the centre-right government of Fredrik Reinfeldt will have a weak electoral mandate, the old regime has tight control of the civil service, and the […]

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Standby power: how significant a problem is it?

David Aaronovitch, in an interesting, if somewhat rambling article on global warming, presents readers with the following challenge: “Here’s a test though. What do readers think would be the reaction of public and opinion-formers to the following: a law to ban the production of electronic equipment with standby buttons? Stolid acceptance of the sense of […]

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Climate change is happening, so how should we deal with it?

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 5 September 2006. Environmental scientists all too often fail to get their message across to the public in terms that will have a positive and lasting impact. The language scientists and lobby groups use can be either opaque, with decontextualised numbers flying all […]

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Argument and consensus on the environment

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 24 July 2006. The Copenhagen Consensus project is a valuable contribution to the debate on environmental policy, but it’s one small part of a wide-ranging discussion involving scientists, engineers, economists, policy makers and the general public. Perhaps the strongest idea to come out […]

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