A significant hallmark of an authoritarian government is the way it uses the power of the state to bully people. The spectre was raised a century ago by Franz Kafka, whose unfinished novel The Trial summed up the whole problem. In the story, Kafka’s narrator was arrested and put on trial – all without even … More What Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ tells us about authoritarian bullying
One of the flaws of twentieth century thinking was that a lot of it was geared towards systematising the human universe around us. Everything had to be reduced to mechanisms, often simplistic, often single-cause. This was certainly true academically, particularly in the humanities which were styling themselves as ‘scientific’ on the basis of that systematisation. … More The flaws of twentieth century thinking
It’s funny how food fads change. After a generation and a half of being told fat is bad for us, now we’re told it’s not (probably), and instead the Evil Food de Jour is sugar. There’s a good deal of science behind that. Sugar, in the quantities we eat it today, wasn’t part of our … More Who profits from food fads?
I have to admit to a certain cynicism about the age of big data – the age of online convenience where we can shop from home, buy stuff with the click of a button, and have it sent to us. Books, among other things. But there’s a down-side. ‘They’ know what you bought – and … More Big brother is watching us because we asked for it – Huxley style
There is a wonderful aphorism credited to Albert Einstein – ‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’. He didn’t necessarily say it, but it’s something he could have said. And it sums up one of … More Failing to escape the tyranny of twentieth century thinking – the junk science of psychology
There is an old adage about letting things go; if you deserve them, they’ll come back. It’s been duly satirised. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it’. To me that’s insightful about the human condition as the original. And the message is simple – … More The most powerful emotion humans have is…
The idea that humans are, in truth, psychotic apes who would brutally smash each other were it not for the thin trappings of culture has long been a sci-fi staple, and with reason. What would happen if, say, culture was suddenly stripped from a group of kids? To William Golding the answer was simple; the … More Are we just psychotic apes, or are we human?