Other Writing

Articles from the New York Times, Forbes, Wired and beyond – any piece that isn’t one of my columns.

What We Owe The Future – A review

The moral philosopher Jonathan Glover tells a story about attending a conference of ethicists in Poland. The itinerary included a visit to Auschwitz. On the coach ride there, the academics earnestly discussed topics such as whether it could ever be morally justifiable...

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A history and defence of opinion polling

Strength In Numbers: How Polls Work and Why We Need Them. By G. Elliott Morris. W.W. Norton; 224 pages; $28.95 and £21.99 In the 1920s, George Gallup sought to expand the circulation of his student newspaper. To gain readers’ attention, he published a misogynistic...

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We must pay the cost of carbon if we are to cut it

Shouldn’t we be doing more to respond to the climate emergency? It’s a natural question to ask. But, perhaps, we should turn the question around, and ask: why haven’t we solved the climate change problem already? Economics suggests a ready answer: externalities....

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How to Truth with Statistics

“The crooks already know these tricks; honest men must learn them in self-defense.” – so wrote nerd legend Darrell Huff, in his million-selling “How To Lie With Statistics” (1954). It’s a delightful little work, full of deceptive graphics, spurious correlations,...

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Espionage, assassination, and the modern factory

Piedmont, in North West Italy, is celebrated for its fine wine. But when a young Englishman, John Lombe, travelled there in the early eighteenth century, he wasn’t going to savour a glass of Barolo. His purpose was industrial espionage. Lombe wished to figure out how...

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The stamp at the bottom of the pyramid

‘It should be remembered, that in few departments have important reforms been effected by those trained up in practical familiarity with their details. The men to detect blemishes and defects are among those who have not, by long familiarity, been made insensible to...

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The joy of the humble brick

‘I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.’ That is supposed to have been the boast of Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, just over two thousand years ago. If it was, he was exaggerating: ancient Rome is a city of brick, and no less glorious...

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