How Shall We Live in the 21st Century? Part 3

This is the third of a series in which I will, however cursorily, consider the challenges – especially to the Western world – of life in the coming century. Part Three: Open and Closed. The open versus the closed society. Part two of this series concluded that neither of the most popular theories of post-20th century …

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How Shall We Live in the 21st Century? Pt 1

This is the first of a series in which I will, however cursorily, consider the challenges – especially to the Western world – of life in the coming century. Part One: Are We There Yet? Where are our flying cars? The BFD. This may seem like a silly question. After all, didn’t the 21st century …

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The Contradiction of Environmentalism

Are humans the crown of creation, or just another animal? It seems to me that there is an unresolved contradiction at the heart of environmentalism: are humans special, or not? That may seem like a pretty basic question, but from it there flows a raft of challenges to environmentalist thinking. If humans aren’t special, then …

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On Statues: A Reply

Ignorant vandalism has no place in civil society. Spot the Difference. L-R: Communists in Spain, Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution; Marxist vigilantes today. A Devil's Curmudgeon. Insight writer Chris Trotter caused quite a stir last week, when he wrote in defense of the sudden, violent craze for destroying statues. Particularly galling to many readers, …

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How Not to Get Fooled: Graphs

Data visualisations – “graphs”, to the unitiated – have been an incredibly useful tool for cutting through the fog of bias and misunderstanding to get at the facts. One of the most famous early data visualisations was John Snow’s graph plotting every case in the infamous Broad Street cholera outbreak of 1854. Snow’s dot map …

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An internet crime for the no-consequences generation

"A mass murderer of, and for, the internet": Christchurch killer Brenton Tarrant. A Devil's Curmudgeon. Another old piece. In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, two perceptive comments were made to me. The first was that “This is the first internet terrorist”; the other was that the killer’s livestream turned the horrific crime into an …

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Animals are not the best people Pt 2: Meat is not murder

As I discussed in Part One of this post, humans undoubtedly benefit from consuming animal products, including meat. It can be argued that the human benefit outweighs the animal cost. Many animal activists object to such utilitarian arguments, arguing instead that animals’ moral status as “sentient beings” or “persons” grants them fundamental rights. But what …

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Animals are not the best people Pt 1: In defense of meat

Psychologist Hal Herzog specialises in studying the relationships between humans and other animals. In his excellent book, Some we love, some we hate, some we eat, he concludes that humans, from animal activists to researchers and even cockfighters, are basically incapable of thinking rationally about other animals. That’s not to say that it’s completely impossible …

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