Smashing plates won’t rescue this taverna

“With all due respect, doctor, I don’t think it’s me who needs to see a shrink.” “Don’t worry. A lot of people feel a bit awkward when they first lie on this couch. This is a safe, non-judgmental space.” “I wish the Essex Community Business association was as...

Globalisation and the mafia

In September 1996, Boris Sergeev, the director of an import-export company from Rome, was in Russia to conclude negotiations for a lucrative contract to import frozen meat (his name has been changed). Negotiations went well, and Mr Sergeev celebrated by booking a...

How to ring-fence a casino marriage

“Have you considered a complete split? Separation?” “No. That would be going too far. But Bob is just behaving intolerably. I just need more stability. He’s been taking advice from some special commission.” “Well – have you considered ringfencing? That nice boy George...

When experts argue

In 1984, a young psychologist called Philip Tetlock began an extraordinary two-decade investigation into the limits of expertise. As the most junior member of a committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Tetlock was charged with figuring out how social scientists...

Banks, bills and bail-outs

I’ve been getting a few e-mails and tweets recently asking how much of the deficit is the result of bailing out the banks. It turns out that the answer is simple: none of it. Let’s look at the situation in the UK. The bail-out – if that is the word – came in a number...

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