If all our actions are determined by prior causes, that doesn’t seem to leave much scope for punishment. Gregg Caruso argues that even if we do not have free will there are justifications for locking people up, but not in retribution for any crimes done.
How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long? In 1972, a British scientist John Yudkin sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. “If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered.
Illustration by Pete Gamlen
In 2014, an American dad claimed a tiny parcel of African land to make his daughter a princess. But Jack Shenker had got there first – and learned that states and borders are volatile and delicate things. “Bir Tawil is the last truly unclaimed land on earth: a tiny sliver of Africa ruled by no state, inhabited by no permanent residents and governed by no laws. To get there, you have two choices. The first is to fly to the Sudanese capital Khartoum, charter a jeep, and follow the Shendi road hundreds of miles up to Abu Hamed, a settlement that dates back to the ancient kingdom of Kush. Today it serves as the region’s final permanent human outpost before the vast Nubian desert, twice the size of mainland Britain and almost completely barren, begins unfolding to the north.”
Planet Aid clothing donations and over $130 million in U.S. grant money are supposed to help people in southern Africa. But when Reveal went to Malawi to find out what actually happened, people told that some of the projects didn’t pan out.
The U.S. government knew an international fugitive was linked to the projects, but kept the money flowing. Reveal goes behind the bin and across an ocean to find out what’s going on.
Illustration by Matt Smith / Reveal
The former Bank of England governor Lord Mervyn King, a key actor in 2009’s financial drama, discusses his book ‘The End of Alchemy’. He explores the underlying weaknesses that sent international economies into a tailspin and argues central banks should become financial institutions’ ‘pawnbrokers for all seasons’, to avoid future crises.
The degree of inequality in society has been determined by changes in how we capture energy from the environment – but what does this mean for the future? Prof. Ian Morris, Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at LSE IDEAS for 2015-16, explores the past and the future.
During the last week of 2001, the administration of Argentina defaulted on the larger part of the public debt, US$132 billion, a seventh of all the money borrowed by the Third World. “The country would not pay what it was owed. Lenders blinked. Victory seemed near. But a group of hedge funds had a different plan. They took the entire country to court.”
Greg Palast reported that “Paul Singer, known as The Vulture, won a $4.65 billion payment from Argentina — nearly one hundred times his “investment” of $50 million in old Argentina bonds. It was, in finance speak, the most successful “vulture attack” ever.”
How does friendship influence political power? One of the Winston Churchill’s closest friends and confidantes was an eccentric scientist named Frederick Lindemann. His connection to Churchill altered the course of British policy in World War II. And not in a good way.
Creating genetically modified people is no longer a science fiction fantasy; it’s a likely future scenario. Biologist Paul Knoepfler estimates that within fifteen years, scientists could use the gene editing technology CRISPR to make certain “upgrades” to human embryos — from altering physical appearances to eliminating the risk of auto-immune diseases. In this thought-provoking talk, Knoepfler readies us for the coming designer baby revolution and its very personal, and unforeseeable, consequences.
Totalitarian Europe in comparison to contemporary America is the subject of Timothy Snyder’s talk and his new book, “On Tyranny”. He sees America’s political institutions in great danger of slipping into autocracy and possibly fascism. From the examples of the twentieth century, Snyder has distilled twenty essential points that should guide the current struggle. They are as simple as “do not obey in advance” and “beware the one-party state,” and as inspiring as “contribute to good causes” and “learn from peers in other countries.” Questions from the audience follow.