All in the mind

Psychology, cultural change

Dental Health Scandal: Playing Politics with Genes

Few empiricists would deny that both environmental and genetic factors determine subtle variations in the physical health, performance and behaviour of human beings. After repeatedly telling us that diet and lifestyle are largely to blame for the obesity epidemic, the popular media now inform that genetics plays a crucial role in our susceptibility to gaining weight, e.g. two different people eating the same intake of junk food may have very different weights. Our genes do after all provide us with...

A Very Human Animal

What is in your genes and what is not? ... The nature versus nurture debate has long presented us with a false dichotomy as nurture, i.e socio-environmental influences, is very much part of nature. But many commentators have narrowed the definition of nature to refer only to genes, the mere blueprint or genotype that determines our potential subsequent development. To simplify matters, consider a newborn girl. Assuming she does not have pervasive brain damage, her future depends in large part on her...

On The Nature of Violence

Consuming re-enactments of violence in various forms has long brought considerable pleasure to large number of people, especially but by no means exclusively, males. Quite clearly many residents of middle class suburbs in towns and cities across the prosperous world are relatively shielded from the real-world physical violence that millions experience on a daily basis in much of the world, but with extraordinary levels of intensity in regions where wars of resistance and internecine conflict rage. David ...

In Association with Pfizer

Someone queried the other day whether any evidence linked Stanley Feldman, co-author of Panic Nation , with Spiked Online. A quick Web search reveals a number of his articles and references in the infamous GMO-promoting, pro-Nuclear, pro-Drug and pseudo-libertarian Web site. But then something caught my attention, right on the front page. Spiked Online are running a What Inspired You? event, purportedly to raise awareness of scientific innovators, but conspicuously sponsored by Pfizer, manufacturer of...

Something's Changed

Thoughts on Michael Bywater's Big Babies or Why Can't We Just Grow Up ... Originally prepared for a talk and discussion at the South Place Ethical Society Book Club. ... Why do people seem to behave differently these days? Why do young girls appear to be more interested in sex? Why do young boys appear to be more restless and inattentive? Why do so many adults comport themselves like overgrown children, always eager to indulge in new high-tech toys or score with members of the opposite or indeed of...

May the Thought Police be with you!

Over the last week the mainstream media in the UK have focused on two moral issues. The first concerned the televised racial slurs of a working class Londoner raised in a Bermondsey council estate who made her name on Channel Four's Big Brother against a multi-millionaire Bollywood diva. The second drew our attention to the unwillingness of the Catholic and other religious adoption agencies to place children with same sex couples. Campaigns against discrimination on grounds of race or sexual orientation...

Conspiracy Theory Slur

act of working in secret to obtain some goal, usually understood with negative connotations. ... Conspiracy (crime) and conspiracy (civil), an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future ... Conspiracy (political), a plot to overthrow a government or other powers ... Conspiracy theory, attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance ... Many defenders of orthodoxy can simply shrug off all challenges ...

The Awareness Raising Scam

On the surface there seems nothing wrong with bringing people's attention to the plight of other human beings. As a concept awareness raising began life in political activism, but was soon embraced by the advertising industry. It does not take a huge leap of faith to conclude that National Smile Week , as delightful and charming as we may find smiles, was sponsored by the British Dental Association and not by an independent group of well-intentioned philanthropists. When the instigators of various...

The Misery Industry

In the run-up to New labour's historic 1997 electoral victory, thespian extraordinaire Tony Blair launched his rallying soundbite " education, education, education ". Any brief exposure to modern teaching techniques as they have continued to evolve since would reveal the necessity to revise that slogan to " edutainment, edutainment, edutainment " . ... Outside the bustling edutainment sector with semi-privatised unis offering students free I-pods and advertising the prospects of vibrant night life and...

Shameless Celebrity Promotion of Personality Disorders

Letter to the Independent (on Sunday) ... Judging from the Independent on Sunday's feature on Stephen Fry's high-profile outing as a bipolar-defined person, we can look forward to a new season of personality disorder awareness raising. If we believe the hype, until the mid 1990s human beings labelled with the new generation of behavioural disorders lived in the dark ages condemned to a life deprived of media-filtered awareness of their plight, a burgeoning support and counselling sector and a new range...

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