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Setting a new course

The BBC has not had a good pandemic.  For all that it prides itself on its supposed quality journalism, when it comes to following the science it has done a worse job than the government itself.  On several occasions the corporation has been caught uncritically repeating press releases from pharmaceutical …

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A dark reflection of a bygone age

This year’s Extinction Rebellion protests have been met with a very different response to that in years gone by.  Instead of the carnival atmosphere, with police officers dressed in shirtsleeves and soft caps, this year’s protestors were met by a more traditional form of policing which quickly kettled them before …

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The disaster that led to New Labour

In the late 1980s Britain suffered a series of disasters which many attributed to the public spending cuts made years earlier by the Thatcher government.  During the first, 1979 to 1983 government, Britain lost more than two million industrial jobs.  Over the same period, so-called “red tape,” including much health …

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Why do we even know this?

Prior to 19 March 2020, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine was quietly doing pretty much what it had been doing for the previous 75 years.  Its antimalarial properties had been known for much longer.  Originally derived from the bark of the Cinchona Tree and sometimes referred to as “the Jesuit powder,” …

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The end of the technocracy

In the early 2000s an organisation I worked with, conducted a survey among Britain’s doctors.  “With the internet growing as a source of information,” they asked, “how important will it be to your practice?”  The subtlety was that they asked the first group of doctors about its value in providing …

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If…

Ordinarily when dealing with conspiracy theories it is best to take the advice of science fiction writer Carl Sagan – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  The fact that someone said it on YouTube or that an increasingly detached pseudo-news outlet like CNN or the Daily Mail reported it doesn’t really …

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Cummings concern

Whatever else he may be, Boris Johnson is a remarkably lucky politician.  Unlike Labour’s last prime minister – who saw the economy melt down just weeks after bottling out of calling “the election that never was” – Johnson is getting his crisis in early; leaving him more than four years …

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Behavioural errors

If only Jeremy Corbyn had won the December 2019 general election, the Covid-19 crisis would have been entirely different.  At least, that is what the Facebook sages on the left of the political spectrum are currently claiming.  This, though is just the usual political theatre in which the red team …

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Lockdown learned helplessness

In 1965 a group of psychologists studying conditioning in dogs stumbled across what they were to call “learned helplessness.”  In their experiment, they took a puppy and put it in a cage.  Once the puppy got used to his surroundings, the experimenters rang a bell.  So the puppy thinks to …

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An echo of yesteryear

In the early 1940s, my dear departed mother had all of her teeth removed in a single sitting.  Even by the standards of today’s NHS dental service – which is a pale shadow of the comprehensive pre-Thatcher service – the reasons for this will be considered barbaric.  My mother had …

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