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
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?
Last December I gave up on broadcast TV. I’d had enough. A dozen channels running synchronised ads promoting products I didn’t want, interspersed with insults to intellect – TV news reduced to infotainment that talked down to eight-year olds, mind-numbing ‘reality TV’ shows, combat cookery contests and trite dramas filled with posturing ‘characters’ moving from … More And that’s why I don’t watch broadcast TV any more…
I need to tell you about a cognitive bias that keeps cropping up. It’s a very human thing. And – as a species – we keep tripping over it. What I’m on about is a form of attribution bias, as applied to groups: the supposition that the behaviour or attitudes of a few reflects the … More One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel, does it
One of my pet peeves is judgementality – the way people draw a negative response to what they imagine to have happened, on what they superficially see – but without actually checking with the target of their judgement to discover the facts. It’s where the recent craze for ‘shaming’ comes from, among other things – … More Does judgementality annoy you?