The other day I found a tweet by Stephen Fry linking to a Texan college video in which students working to become lawyers, psychologists, and so on, didn’t know who’d won the US Civil War. Or who their Vice President was. Fry wondered if it was evidence of Spengler’s The Decline and Fall of the West. I’m not… More Heralding the decline and fall of the west, apparently
The other week I argued that Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara was a poorly written Tolkien rip-off that put me off the rest of the novels. Responses fell into two camps – people who agreed and thought the whole Shannara series was dismal; and those who were offended. Fair point. People don’t have to agree… More Should we be dispassionate about writing – like Spock?
The other day a reader commented on a post I’d written about 9/11 as history and pointed out, quite rightly, that it doesn’t take long for events to be ‘packaged’ in ways that stand against the more dispassionate requirement of historians to understand. I agree. There’s no doubt in my mind that dramatic events affecting whole societies are… More Do societies re-package their narratives of recent events? And is that ‘history’?
There has been a growing consensus among historians in recent years that the First and Second World Wars were not separate events. They were two acts in a 31-year drama that began in 1914. Indeed, there are reasons to argue that this war was followed by a third act, set up by the collapse of the old order… More The real truth of the First World War
I am often bemused at the way some people seem to think. Particularly those who advocate what we might call ‘fringe’ theories. These are often portrayed in pseudo-scientific terms; there is a hypothesis. Then comes the apparent basis for the hypothesis, frequently explicitly titled ‘the evidence’ or ‘the facts’. And finally, the fringe thinker tells… More Fringe thinking fruit-loops or just misunderstood?
I am always fascinated by the way science occasionally comes up with ‘insoluble questions’ or ‘paradoxes’. After a while, these tricky queries go away because, it turns out, everybody was barking up a tree to which they had been led by an expert whose ideas had captured peer and public attention. The big one, these days, is the link… More The paradox of Europe’s high-fat, low heart-disease diets
As I enter Grumpy Old Man territory (a tad over 30, and I’m sticking to that) I find myself less and less tolerant of people who smoke around me. I’ve never smoked. it’s a horrible habit. What’s more, it inflicts itself on other people whether they like it or not, and I don’t see why… More Another counterblast to tobacco