Richard Dawkins on vivisection: "But can they suffer?"

The great moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham, founder of utilitarianism, famously said,'The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" Most people get the point, but they treat human pain as especially worrying because they vaguely think it sort of obvious that a species' ability to suffer must be positively correlated with its intellectual capacity. Read the rest

Richard Dawkins: Sex selection and the shortage of women: is science to blame?

A couple watch their baby inside a waiting hall at the Nanjing railway station, capital of Jiangsu province. [Reuters/2006]

In nature, the balance of males and females is maintained by natural selection acting on parents. Read the rest

Discretion please, not rulebooks

("One Nation under CCTV," an illustration contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr pool by Tom Blackwell)

I'm writing this on a plane, having just passed through Security at Heathrow airport. Read the rest

Further reflections on discrimination

[Image, via Wikipedia: The Flammarion engraving (1888) depicts a traveller who arrives at the edge of a flat Earth and sticks his head through the firmament.]

A scientific experiment avoids confusion by holding as much as possible constant, while systematically varying some factor of interest. Read the rest

Should employers be blind to private beliefs?

(Reflections inspired by the Gaskell debate in Kentucky)

The University of Kentucky has caved in and agreed a settlement, out of court, with the allegedly creationist astronomer Martin Gaskell. Read the rest

Catholic Mischief in Glasgow

Even those who agree with the great Christopher Hitchens that religion poisons everything might be surprised to learn that the toxin extends its reach even to football (soccer). Read the rest