Archive for the ‘humanism’ Category

Reading Susan Greenfield

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Susan Greenfield’s latest book is interesting, but it’s jam-packed with assumptions that I can’t agree with. As I follow each chain of logic based on an unsupported premise, I become more and more exhausted. So I’m afraid I’ve only read halfway through the book so far. I suppose that she might blame this on my short attention span, caused by too much time in front of the Commodore 64 in my childhood. Nonetheless – I can’t quite accept that someone so accomplished and brilliant could write an entire book without something of value in it, so I shall persist.

Meanwhile the press has got hold of the Cliff’s notes. I fully expect that we will now be witness to a “debate” in our own (Australian) media between various people whose entire understanding of this issue is gleaned from the British press’ misreporting of half-understood press releases containing excerpts from speeches made about a book that obliquely references actual research.
So below is my response to the Daily Mail’s scintillating ‘Social websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist‘.

I’m halfway through Susan Greenfield’s book; and although she’s a scientist I’m still waiting for her to introduce some science to support her assertions. It’s full of sentences that begin along the lines of “I often wonder whether” and “It is hard to see how […] this […] will not result in” (both of those examples are from your article above).

Baroness Greenfield’s stature as a scientist and public intellectual make her comments worth considering. However if I may put this the way that she seems to prefer: I often wonder whether assertions of correlation made without evidence of causation might perhaps be claptrap.

Ahem.

153 (j).

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

From the Human Rights chapter of the ALP National Platform:

161. Asylum seekers who are independently determined to be refugees under the Migration Act 1958 will be given permanent protection.

153 (j). Detention of asylum seekers should only be used for health, identity and security checks. Children and family groups should initially be placed under supervision within the community. In other circumstances, detention would remain mandatory for the duration of these initial check.

153 (k). Conditions of detention must be humane and appropriate to the needs of asylum seekers, with appropriate alternatives to detention centres made to meet the needs of unaccompanied children and family groups.

153. (l) The length and conditions of detention must be subject to review and detention centres managed by the public sector.