Crabs and lobsters deserve protection from being cooked alive

Crabs and lobsters have a tough time at the hands of humans. In most countries, they are excluded from the scope of animal welfare legislation, so nothing you do to them is illegal. The result is that they are treated in ways that would clearly be cruel if inflicted on a vertebrate. This might in … Continue reading Crabs and lobsters deserve protection from being cooked alive

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War once helped build nations, now it destroys thema

Organised violence – the term war boils down to – has long been a unifier of peoples. Archeological evidence shows that nearly half those who lived during the last part of the Stone Age in Nubia, an area along the southern reaches of the Nile River, died violent deaths. Many other tribal societies through the … Continue reading War once helped build nations, now it destroys thema

Which is more fundamental: processes or things?

Metaphysics is the attempt to understand how existence works by examining the building blocks of reality, the distinctions between mental and physical entities, and the fundamental questions of being and reality. But metaphysics is not only an arcane branch of philosophy: human beings use metaphysical assumptions to navigate the world. Assumptions about what exists and … Continue reading Which is more fundamental: processes or things?

Humans are the only animals who crave oblivion through suicide

‘You said that you’re afraid of dying. What are you afraid of?’ ‘Oblivion. Of not being alive, quite simply, of not feeling life, not smelling it.’ From an interview with Philip Roth by Martin Krasnik, The Guardian, 14 December 2005At some stage in evolution, it must have dawned on human beings that the death of … Continue reading Humans are the only animals who crave oblivion through suicide

Who can you trust in a post-truth world?

Trust has always been a dangerous business. Every instance of it brings the risk of let-down, disloyalty and betrayal. Still, in recent times, the vulnerability inherent in trust seems more pronounced. Technological advancements enabling increased access to information mean that awareness of corporate scandals, fake news and political lies has increased exponentially: Volkswagen; the Panama … Continue reading Who can you trust in a post-truth world?

Sleepwalking is the result of a survival mechanism gone awry

Last night, most of us went to the safety and comfort of our beds before drifting off to a night’s sleep. For some, this was the last conscious action before an episode of sleepwalking. Recent research from Stanford University shows that up to 4 per cent of adults might have had such an experience. In … Continue reading Sleepwalking is the result of a survival mechanism gone awry

Fatal nurture: what a rare disorder says about ‘bad mothers’

Mothers have been the target of intense scrutiny and control throughout history. But during the 20th century this attention underwent a major shift. Motherhood was increasingly understood in medical, psychiatric and psychoanalytic terms, particularly in Britain and the United States. One of the most disturbing examples of this transition is the concept of Munchausen Syndrome … Continue reading Fatal nurture: what a rare disorder says about ‘bad mothers’

Psychopaths have feelings: can they learn how to use them?

Psychopaths have long captured the imagination. The names of famous psychopaths, such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, evoke a morbid curiosity. The crimes committed by these men are so vicious, so unfathomably cruel, that it’s impossible to imagine how someone could do such a thing. The severed heads kept as mementos in Bundy’s apartment … Continue reading Psychopaths have feelings: can they learn how to use them?

Ancient ruins keep being ‘discovered’: were they ever lost?

We had walked for five days through the mountainous rainforest of the Mosquitia region of eastern Honduras. My companions were five Pech men with whom I often worked. The Pech are an indigenous group, and they almost certainly are descended from the people who built and inhabited the impressive archaeological sites we were visiting. It … Continue reading Ancient ruins keep being ‘discovered’: were they ever lost?