First: how are people finding me this week?
Biggest search event of the week: Someone with my name died Friday night, and I've been getting scores of searches every hour for it. That's what I get for monopolizing the Google ratings for my name. I've had to check my sitemeter every couple hours if I don't want to miss anything. I don't mind getting more traffic if it's people wanting to read my stuff, but this is just from frustrated people who can't find what they're looking for. At least people began to leave comments to help them after a bit.
Unfortunate misspelling of the week:
critically asses locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities
The difference one letter makes. My students do this often enough, and spellcheckers can't catch misspellings that are real words. One of my colleagues regrets the existence of the word 'posse' because it means spellcheckers never catch 'posses' for 'possess'.
Conspiracy theory of the week:
mcwhorter's ties to swift boat veterans
John McWhorter is a linguist who writes popular books about race on the side. I can't even see the connection in content, never mind with the people. He didn't even vote for Bush in 2004, so I'm not sure why anyone would think he'd have much to do with the Swift Boat Vets, whose main goal was to prevent Kerry's election. All conspiracy theorists are intellectually dishonest in their speculative connections, but this one seems to be from just plain stupidity. Well, it's probably just racism, which is a kind of stupidity, particularly when it involves assuming that anyone who is black who says anything remotely like what conservatives say, even if it's for very different reasons, must have something to do with the most extreme people on the conservative side on issues unrelated to what that person even talks about. It's racist to assume a racial essence that requires black people to be liberal, and it's racist to assume that those who will say conservativish things must be mirror images of whatever your image of a conservative is. The only reason people will think such things is if they assume black people can't think for themselves.
False dilemma of the week:
is the death penalty racist or just
This one came earlier in the last week and then again yesterday. The second time, it had a question mark at the end. I don't suspect that was because they were less sure that those were the only options.
Attempt to Start a Slanderous Rumor by Means of a Google Search of the week:
norman geisler homosexual molester three times
Most bewildering search of the week:
philosophical meaning of eyeshadow
Christian Carnival LXV is at AnotherThink.
Vox Apologia XIII is up also, but I'm the only one in it with my cosmological arguument post, which has taken some heated criticism from a presuppositionalist who doesn't understand the role such arguments play in classical apologetics, therefore completely failing to address anything the post talks about. The Vox Apologia policy is now that you can submit stuff later on, and it will be added, so if you want to write something on that argument, you can get it retroactively in the symposium on that topic.
The Prickly Pear tackles Maureen Dowd's hysterics on religion. Key quote:
While their primary purpose is to bring the individual to God, religion must also function as a moral guidepost for society. Secularists not only know this, they demand it when it's convenient to them. A prime example is their criticism of German Christians for not speaking out against Nazism. If secularists believe Christians had a duty to risk their lives in Nazi Germany, then they have to accept the fact that Christians have a duty to speak out whenever they believe something is wrong. You can't restrict their speech to issues only you agree with.
Have you ever heard of plagiarizing from oneself? A former member of the Syracuse University administration is being accused of exactly that. He used parts of mission statements he wrote for other schools he worked at for a first draft of the one he's currently working at. I haven't looked at the details of this, but it sounds pretty silly from what I've seen so far.
Laurence Thomas has a nice post on male-female equality. He makes an interesting observation. Many people have thought that if men were able to bear children we'd have a much more equal society. Besides making the more obvious point that equality doesn't require sameness, he questions whether we'd have a better world if both men and women could bear children. Men and women might dispute who would bear a child or who would bear the next one. Men might not want to do it at all, or they may think women are hogging all the fun. This is all normal for the world as it is, because people fight over things in other aspects of life. What's different here, though, is that it involves children. When children are at the center of disputes between parents, it leads to nothing but bad. He imagines a few likely comments that parents would use as weapons in arguments that could devastate a child's sense of their love.
He also chimes in on the liberal faculty in academia issue. On the substantive moral issues, I don't think he's saying anything I haven't said before, but it's helpful to see his examples of the negative attitudes commonly expressed without thinking by most academicians toward theists, conservatives, or anyone who doesn't tow the party line in some other way. His examples fit very nicely with my own experiences. It's just nice to hear it from a member of the faculty of my own department.
Max Goss at Right Reason looks at an unwelcome consequence of the crude utilitarianism that some people are using to justify criticism of what John Paul II has called the culture of life. If it's ok to do anything that will lead to relieving of suffering that inflicts no suffering of its own, then we should kidnap, experiment on, and kill all the homeless people in our major cities. As long as we keep them sedated when experimenting on them, they won't suffer, and their overall well-being will actually be less bad because it won't be below zero. The experimenting will likely lead to good anyway. I hadn't thought of this objection to crude utilitarianism. It's nice to use cases that are politically incorrect, and this is definitely one.