Category Archives: politics

Bradley Miller, Judged

civil rights, culture, law, Philosophy of Law, politics Leave a reply

Professor Bradley Miller has been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, effective January 16th, 2015. His bio there states that “his main areas of practice were commercial litigation, class actions, administrative law, constitutional law and human rights law”. And yet it would seem that his understanding of human rights is less than complete.

In an article written two years ago in Public Discourse, (Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada), Miller makes a range of claims that are supportable only if one believes that the right to tear down others is more valuable to society at large than the right to not be torn down.

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The Dishonesty of Intelligent Design

philosophy, politics, religion Leave a reply

I’ve written a number of posts on the problems of Intelligent Design, and how it’s merely a cover for Creationism, but the problems go deeper than that. Functionally, its proponents pretend that they have ‘nothing in particular’ in mind when they argue for a designer, and under that cover, they attempt to shoe-horn Creationism into the class-rooms of North America.

Intelligent Design masquerades as a ‘scientific theory’ about how human life originated and evolved over time, and its proponents claim that it’s entirely distinct from Creationism, an obvious lie when you review the origin of Intelligent Design. There are, however, other ways to demonstrate this lie.

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Government Funding of Religious Schools

civil rights, culture, Education, politics, religion Leave a reply

In many parts of Canada (and, of course, other parts of the world), there are two systems of schooling in place: a secular system that does not explicitly endorse any particular religious faith (though can implicitly do so), and an explicitly religious system. In Canada, both of these are funded by the government, and it’s deeply problematic.

According to the Globe and Mail, proponents of the system believe that “(…) Catholic schools provide better education, structure and discipline than public ones (…)”, a claim which is certainly up for debate. In any case, religious schools typically have a list of requirements for both students and employees that go beyond the workplace, and impact their daily lives beyond school property. Many require that teachers be of a particular religion (in the case of Canada, it’s usually Catholic), or that they abstain from certain behaviours (mostly, unsurprisingly, focused on homosexuality). Others limit people who may speak at their schools, again largely denying access to people based on their sexual preferences.

Funding for schools that are religious is just simply wrong, one the grounds of discrimination, economics, and quality of education.

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Alltrials Petition

culture, economics, ethics, health, Philosophy of Science, politics, science Leave a reply

One of the biggest problems in medical research today is that we don’t have complete access to the clinical trials that a company did when testing their new products. While this may seem to be an issue of privacy (for the company), it’s more correctly viewed as a public health issue. Why? Because lies and misrepresentations matter.

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Unpaid Internships Need to Go

civil rights, economics, ethics, liberalism, philosophy, politics Leave a reply

As the job market becomes more and more competitive (i.e. there are more and more people in the world), people in the recruiting world seek quick and easy ways to distinguish candidates from one another. If you’ve got a stack of 500 resumes in front of you, and the bulk are simply people who have graduated from University, how do you even begin to create a short-list? You can’t (legally) discriminate on the basis of the candidates age, ethnicity, gender, or religion, so… what now?

As a candidate for a position, you want to present the best possible picture to a prospective employer. Getting a job while at school, however, isn’t really an option: the kinds of jobs that will allow part-time work that doesn’t interfere with your classes during the day are not really all that useful when applying for the kind of work that a university graduate has the education for.

The solution to both problems is: internships. And this is deeply problematic.

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Anti-Fluoridation is Science Illiteracy

culture, health, politics, Science Denialism, skepticism 10 Replies

A few days ago, as part of a twitter conversation I was having with the basically anonymous @SafeWaterHfx, I was sent an article in support of their claims that fluoride shouldn’t be added to municipal tap water. The anti-fluoridation crowd make a lot of noise online (they’re not unlike the anti-wifi folk in that regard), but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence in support of their position. Moreover, all the evidence seems to say that adding fluoride to municipal drinking water is a win in every possible way: it has a large positive effect on the population, it’s cheap, and it’s effective.

The argument that SafeWaterHalifax is putting forward (and you have to read between the lines as they’re either unwilling or unable to make an explicit direct statement) is that the levels of fluoridation in the municipal water in the US and Canada is harmful. Sure, they might prefer to couch that as “could be harmful”, but that’s just hedging. Given that they are arguing for it to be removed, you can’t make that argument on the basis that something “could be” harmful, without some sort of belief that it actually is.

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Why Do People Vote Against Their Own Self-Interest?

politics Leave a reply

As part of a discussion I had a few days ago, the question was asked: why do you people vote against their own self-interest?

Seems like a simple question, pointing out the weirdness that is people voting in politicians who support policies that are clearly at odds with their own situation. It’s blatantly ridiculous, and these people are clearly uneducated and/or foolish. Right?

The short answer is “no, that’s completely wrong.” Like most things in life, this is complicated.

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Health Canada Can’t Force a Product Recall

health, politics 1 Reply

I’ve lived in Canada since 2006 (minus an 18-month visit to Japan), but I keep getting surprised by things. I guess I assume a certain standard of consumer rights and protections that are simply absent here, and when they pop up I’m shocked. And kinda outraged. A recent example of this is Vega One Nutrional Shakes.

My opening assumption here is that Health Canada is the government-run body that oversees things we put in our body for either nutritional or medical reasons. In order to sell things, you need their approval, and if you start to screw up, then they can slap you on the wrist and make you stop selling those things.

This is not apparently the case.

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An Open Letter to Mark Mercer and Saint Mary’s University

culture, ethics, feminism, philosophy, politics, psychology Leave a reply

Dr. Mercer,

I recently read your article in the UBC’s Ubyssey, and I have to admit: it raised some serious questions for me. I’ve spent some time thinking on them, so I hope that you’re not immediately dismissive.

These questions pertain to your being a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy, and yet you fail to act in accord with at least two critical principles that you should be teaching.

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The Death Penalty, The Economic Argument

civil rights, Conceits, culture, philosophy, politics Leave a reply

This is the fourth (and final) part of a series, dealing with topics are normally informed by a religious point-of-view, but have somehow managed to leak into some secular world-views. They’ll be collected together under the arrogantly-titled ‘Conceits’ tag.

I’ve dealt with The Deterrence Effect in Part 1 and Part 2 of this sub-series, and I also laid out my Philosophical committments there too.

Now to build up the arguments in favour of the death penalty, we have to imagine a more-perfect world than the one we currently live in: a world with no false-positives. That is to say that no innocent people are wrongly convicted. Of coursethis is a fantasy world, that will never exist. The point here is to eliminate all the practical problems that pro-death folk handwave away when making their arguments. I’m prepared to grant all the handwaving, because they still don’t have a solid argument in favour of their position. This also means (and I apologise in advance) ignoring how the death penalty disproportionally affects people of colour. We are going to fantasy-land, where (somehow?) all of this has been resolved (because revenge-fantasies are always idealised, but hey, I’m not going to speculate on the psychology of people who put these arguments forward).

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