Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of Mercatornet.com. He earned a BA at Harvard University and later moved to Australia where he pursued a career in journalism.

recent articles

After Rio, Prospects for Christianity Look Brighter

Even for jaded journalists World Youth Day came as a surprise. The organization was appalling. Public transport collapsed. The ATMs ran out of money. The field where the young people were supposed to sleep overnight and attend Mass on Sunday turned into a quagmire after heavy rain. Even the mayor of Rio de Janeiro admitted … Read more

Russia is Sick and Dying

For those of you who regularly read my blog, congratulations! Aside from the warm glow inside that comes from the satisfaction of a job well done, you’ll also know that we have in the past mentioned that Russia’s demographic future is not particularly rosy. I want to share with you a review article by a Master of … Read more

How Bismark Lost Kulturkampf

Now that the Affordable Care Act has survived its Supreme Court challenge, there comes the fight over its implementation. Moral considerations rank high on the list of casus belli for Catholics and other religious groups. They fear that the Act will force them to pay for procedures which they abhor, like the morning-after pill, abortion, … Read more

Children of Same Sex Couples

Kids thrive in families with same-sex parents. This is beyond serious debate. The science says so. Get over it. Denying this self-evident truth has become tantamount to homophobia. In 2010 a Florida court, the Third District Court of Appeal, was certain enough to state complacently that: “based on the robust nature of the evidence available … Read more

101 Books Gen Ys Must Read Before They Die

The must-read list for people who hate to read. “Must read” – not in the sense that something very scary will happen if they don’t, and not in the sense that they won’t be allowed to die if they don’t (read about the “struldbrugs” in Gulliver’s Travels for this possibility). No, what we mean is … Read more

Lessons from the island of Utøya

News reports on the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who murdered 77 people on the island of Utøya, near Oslo, last year, are being filed from a different moral universe. In The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells imagined that Martian “intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic” were scrutinising and studying earthlings “as … Read more

Benedict XVI, Still Soldiering on

With the celebraton of his 85th birthday, this makes Benedict XVI, the sovereign of the Vatican City State, the eighth oldest world leader. Although insiders say that Benedict is slowing down, he lives at a pace which would kill younger men: a relentless succession of trips in Italy, trips overseas, daily speeches, a multitude of … Read more

Morality Pill

Not long ago, Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, together with a research assistant, Agata Sagan, proposed a “morality pill” in a column in the New York Times. They speculated that moral behaviour is at least in part biochemically determined. So why not engineer moral behaviour with drugs? Here is the scenario that they paint: If continuing … Read more

A Tipping Point on Abortion?

From 1917 to 1991, for more than 80 years, Russia was ruled by an ideology of oppression which paraded as a beacon of liberation. But within 40 years, the masquerade was over, even if the misery remained. Novels like Dr Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; … Read more

Thirteen Worthwhile New Movies

You can never get complete agreement on lists of movies. In this annual feature, the editors of Mercatornet.com try to select films which are worthwhile, entertaining and reasonably family-friendly.  If you would like to nominate others, please make a comment. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn     Directed by Steven Spielberg … Read more

Hail, Sol Invictus!

Let’s imagine for a moment that Christmas had never happened and that the Roman Emperor Aurelian had succeeded in establishing the feast of Sol Invictus on December 25 back in the year 274 AD. Instead of Christmas, we would have had the Feast of the Unconquered Sun. At this time of year, just after the … Read more

Abortion, Mental Health, and Politicized Science

The news site Mercatornet.com conducted an important interview with psychologist Priscilla Coleman, who has published contrarian research results on the link between abortion and mental health problems. Priscilla K. Coleman is a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Dr Coleman has nearly 50 peer-reviewed journal articles published, … Read more

Never Apologize, Never Explain…

Remember the slogan “ethics is playing catch-up with science”? It was one of the trusty clichés of science journalists in the heated debates five or six years ago over embryo research, “therapeutic cloning” and embryonic stem cells. From a layman’s point of view, the nub of the issue was this: adult stem cells were ethically … Read more

Royal Euthanasia?

You would think that having a personal physician would guarantee excellent health care. However, the conviction of Michael Jackson’s doctor for involuntary manslaughter suggests that this is not necessarily the case. Prosecutors described Dr Conrad Murray’s care of the pop singer as an “obscene” pharmaceutical experiment. Even royalty are not exempt. One of the sensational … Read more

Bioethical Breaches, Past and Present

  For the past year, it has been bioethical bow, scrape and grovel time in Washington DC. After learning that American public health researchers had infected about hundreds of Guatemalans with venereal diseases between 1946 and 1948, President Obama had to telephone his Guatemalan counterpart to apologize. He then set up a commission to investigate … Read more

The Price of Same-Sex Marriage

  How is this law going to hurt your marriage? That is the jeer hurled at opponents of New York’s new same-sex marriage law. As the Boston Globe put it memorably some time ago, same-sex marriage will “no more undermine traditional marriage than sailing undermines swimming”. Indeed, many supporters of traditional marriage don’t know how … Read more

Reason Is the Enemy of the Euthanasia Movement

  Facebook can be useful. Browsing through its weekly birthday update, I learned that Nick Tonti-Filippini, a bioethicist who serves on various Australian government committees and teaches at a Catholic institute in Melbourne, turns 55 today. Some of those years must have gone slowly for him, as he is chronically ill. Fortunately, he has the … Read more

Recycling Euthanasia Organs in Belgium

If you have an organ transplant in Belgium, there is a small chance that you will owe your life to someone else’s death by euthanasia. The complex job of matching donors and recipients in Belgium — where euthanasia has been legal since 2002 — is handled by an organisation called Eurotransplant. In 2008, in a … Read more

Protect Animals, but Don’t Forget about People

  The Australian government has halted all exports of live animals to Indonesia. This means that Indonesian abattoirs will have to find other sources of beef and Australian Aborigines will have to find other jobs. The ban was a hasty response to images of appalling brutality in a few Indonesian abattoirs. Animal welfare activists and … Read more

The Church Paid $1.8 Million, and All I Got Was This Lousy Report

When you spend US$1.8 million to identify the causes of a crisis, you expect more for your money than, “well, you know, it’s really, really complicated.” But this is the message of a five-year investigation into the sexual abuse crisis in the US Catholic Church. “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by … Read more

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