How to win an argument

Many arguments are made with minimal understanding, or are based on false premises. Simply asking for more detail and forcing someone to take you through their thinking step by step can expose this. It’s not enough just to give evidence that something is false. To convince the other party, provide an alternative explanation to fill …

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Alexander McCall Smith on teachers and the taught

“Below are comments from the writer, Alexander McCall Smith, in his article in the June 2015 edition of “Prospect” magazine, the British magazine designed for those who think and who have a sense of humour, under the title “If I ruled the World”. “Teachers too would have their authority returned to them. Children would be …

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It’s time to stand up to “flying rats” a.k.a Seagulls

Letter to The Sun: Vicious seagulls are taking over our country.  The decline of the fishing industry has left less food for these feathered menaces to scavenge from the docks, so tens of thousands of them have taken up residence in inland towns and cities. And they aren’t just poking through rubbish bins. These “flying …

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Collectively we are all guilty of perpetuating misleading “facts”.

From the Harvard Gazette: We are all too ready to judge the world though anecdotes, images and distorted reporting designed to sell news, rather than quietly studying the actual facts.  Some examples:    –   Trump refers to American “carnage” in an era in which violent crime rates are close to historical lows. Bush created …

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Pornography and global climate change

The streaming of online pornography produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as the whole of Belgium, according to a new report by the French think tank The Shift Project. Its researchers found that the energy required to stream online videos is responsible for the emission of 300 million tonnes of CO2 a year – …

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Treating your workers as expendable machines

To The Guardian I fear the plight of the middle class is even worse than Larry Elliott portrays. In addition to being “hollowed out” and suffering stagnant incomes, much of the middle class – public and private sector – has been subjected for two decades to increasing workplace monitoring and micromanagement, bureaucratic control, corporate compliance …

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Britain’s most unpopular generation

Britain’s youngest adults have suffered a slump in their discretionary spending power, while people aged 65 and over have enjoyed a sharp 37% rise. The findings shatter the myth of millennials wasting their disposable income on fripperies. In its first ever national audit on the subject, the Resolution Foundation’s new Intergenerational Centre concludes that compared …

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Some light relief: a little unknown bit of history

My father took the surrender of the Third Reich.  Yes, truly. It happened like this.  My father was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force, duty officer on the day in question on a North German airfield occupied by the British in 1945.  Hitler had committed suicide and Admiral Doenitz had taken over as …

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A nice, harmless report that isn’t about wrecking civilisation!

The use of birdfeeders in gardens has dramatically increased the diversity of the birds living in Britain’s urban areas, a new study has found. The British Trust for Ornithology said that at least half of home-owners feed garden birds – a trend that started to take off in the 1970s – and this now supports …

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Mafia steals billions: surprise, surprise

The Italian Mafia has made €3bn over the past ten years by siphoning off EU funds intended for farmers within Sicily’s largest national park, according to a former director of the park, who survived a Mafia assassination attempt in 2016. In his new book, Giuseppe Antoci claims that Cosa Nostra clans use threats to deter …

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In contrast to media Wikipedia arguments are quite civilised

An analysis of millions of Wikipedia articles suggests that ideologically diverse groups can not only cooperate effectively, but also produce better work than homogenous groups. How did Wikipedia succeed where much of the online world has failed? Misha Teplitskiy and his colleagues at Harvard University looked at the editors of Wikipedia articles on politics, science …

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