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Month: December 2019

Guestblog: The problem with the Labour Party (by Stephen Burgess)

Guestblog: The problem with the Labour Party (by Stephen Burgess)

Stephen Burgess is an academic scientist. Politically speaking, he self-identifies as left-of-centre, although he typically feels to the right-of-centre amongst other academics. He grew up with a pathological hatred of the Tories, but to this day isn’t fully sure where that came from. The views expressed in this post are those of the author alone. I am a scientist. When you are writing a scientific paper, you make your main point at the beginning, and then you provide evidence to…

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Stuck for Christmas presents?

Stuck for Christmas presents?

A few books written by me and friends of mine that might serve to fill those last minute ideas. For science buffs, Cosmos, the Infographic Book of Space, by astronomers Chris North and Stuart Lowe provides brilliant visualisations that will make you think about the universe in different ways. For historians, try Jacqueline Reiter’s The Late Lord, a biography of the Earl of Chatham (a relative of Pitt). If you’re buying for children, Cluck Cluck Duck by Jean Blakey is…

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Age and wealth effects

Age and wealth effects

When thinking about how voting patterns differ with age, people distinguish between three types of effect: Age effects: The effect is a factor of the person’s age. For example, maybe young people are more likely to vote for a party promising lower tuition fees and old people for a party promising higher pensions. With an age effect, as people get older, their voting patterns will change. Cohort effects: The effect relates to a specific cohort of people (e.g. those born…

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Christmas Quiz Errata

Christmas Quiz Errata

With thanks to eagle-eyed quizzers, errors have been spotted in five of the questions. A full list of errata is on the page where the quiz was first posted. I will continue to update this if others are discovered. With just over 20 days to go, happy solving!

Human fallibility and robust institutions

Human fallibility and robust institutions

Note: I began writing this post before the election; I finished it after. I’ve indicated where the break is. It’s amazing that a system of a billion weasels trying to hose each other, i.e. capitalism, works as well as it does. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. Many human institutions are not optimised for perfection. They’re optimised for robustness. Capitalism is a case in point. Certainly, a huge amount of human endeavour is wasted in an arms-race of advertising, or in…

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It’s Brexit or Corbyn

It’s Brexit or Corbyn

Some of my friends reading this are fully commited You know who you’re voting for – and this post isn’t for you. Others will have voted to leave the EU. Hopefully you know that the only way to stop the arguing and get Brexit done is to back Boris and vote Conservative tomorrow. This post isn’t for you, either. But a goodly number of you are centrists or swing voters. You know who you are. You basically think the free…

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Why now, not then?

Why now, not then?

There’s a good question I’ve been asked a few times over the last week, usually by people who don’t usually vote Conservative but may be considering voting for Boris next week. It’s why are the Conservatives only pledging to do some of these things now, when they’ve been in power for nine years. It’s a reasonable question, but there are also some very good answers. 1. We have a new leader Boris Johnson is not David Cameron or Theresa May….

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Christmas Quiz XIV

Christmas Quiz XIV

Christmas Quiz XIV is now available to download! This year the theme is sequences: mathematical, historical, literary and many more. As always, all reference sources are permitted. Answers will be available from Epiphany from this site with honour and glory to the highest scoring individual/team. If you wish for a chance at victory or the honour roll, please send me your completed answers by 11:59pm GMT on 5th January. Good luck and have fun! More information about my Christmas Quizzes…

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