Category Archives: politics

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.

Continue reading

Anti-Abortion Arguments, Including the Secular Ones, are Uninformed Drivel.

Atheism, civil rights, Conceits, culture, Education, ethics, feminism, freethought community, liberalism, philosophy, politics, science 32 Replies

I’ve had something of a writing block for the last month or so, so I’m thankful to Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist for providing me with some fodder to dissect. I’ve always figured that there had to be some folk out there whose anti-abortion stance wasn’t built on a foundation of religion, as the latter simply isn’t logically necessary for the former. Plenty of people hold ignorant and poorly thought-out positions, appeals to god are simply gap fillers: people can also either fill in the gaps with a non-religious non-explanation, or just ignore them.

Such is the case in the guest post by Kristine Kruszelnicki, titled “Yes, There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here’s Why I’m One of Them“. An alternative title would be “I’m unaware of how shallow my arguments are, but here they are anyway”. That is, perhaps, unfair: it’s possible that Kruszelnicki is aware of how shallow these arguments are, but she claims that they are compelling….

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading

The Death Penalty, Deterrence in Practice

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

So in Part 1 of this sub-series, I dealt with the plausibility of the model in favour of Deterrence. But let’s forget all about that for a moment. Let’s put aside all the science behind our decision processes, how the human brain works, and all of that stuff. Like Deterrence-advocates, let’s pretend that science hasn’t moved since, I don’t know, the early 1900s.

Continue reading

The Death Penalty, Deterrence in Principle

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

This is going to be the first part of a four-part 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.

There are two main arguments in favour of the death penalty, both of which I feel fail to be convincing. I’ll get to them, but first I need to sketch out some philosophical/ethical commitments. It helps to get these out of the way, as if you disagree with these commitments, it helps identify where we diverge in the argument.

Continue reading