I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Science / Human Sciences

How Scientific Inquiry Works

Postmodern critics of science have sometimes argued that it is a ‘narrative’ like any other and cannot be privileged over other narratives, for example alternative medicine. A new book, written with careful, nuanced scholarship, reasserts the value of the scientist’s calling, of rigour in research and of the importance of evidence.

The Hard Life

Neandertals were expert toolmakers, had big brains and lived in small communities which hunted large, dangerous beasts. A Neandertal, man, woman or child, was likely to sustain huge numbers of injuries in the course of a short life, yet there is reason to believe the community cared for its incapacitated members.

The day the ATM broke

The most dispiriting aspect of our economic crisis five years on has been the absence of the political courage needed to implement the radical political, economic and administrative reforms that would make Ireland competitive in the way that other small open European economies are competitive.

Getting an Edge

Imagination, determination and an ability to exploit the commercial attractiveness to the consumer of the authentic and traditional have enabled many successful businesses to be created and sustained in peripheral locations in Ireland. Perhaps there is more than one viable model for industrial development.

Doesn’t Add Up

Modern states are awash with statistics. So it doesn’t take too long, for example, to work out that inequalities of wealth are at their greatest since the late nineteenth century.

Licking Death

Cancer is a serious business, and also big business, particularly in the US. But ‘declaring war’ on it is like declaring war on death. Our own Irish Cancer Society has launched a ‘strategy statement’ that envisages a ‘future without cancer’, but it modestly concedes that ‘this may not be achieved in the lifetime of this strategy statement’.

Getting to Grey

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

The Gentleman Naturalist

Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection and evolution have weathered well and he cannot be held responsible for those who have developed a repugnant politics on the back of a vulgarisation of them.

Clash of the Titans

The pragmatism associated with JM Keynes derives from a sustained optimism in the capacity of intelligence to inform and influence correct responses to a crisis. Hayek’s market morality reflects an altogether more pessimistic view of human behaviour.


A fixation on short term gain led to our economic collapse. Now it’s time to focus on the real economy, where the fundamentals are still sound.