In praise of George Monbiot

I know his name is almost as hated on these blogs as Osama bin Laden’s – more, in fact; almost as much as Richard Dawkins’s. But George Monbiot is to be admired, because he has one vital attribute that very few of his most vociferous critics share: he is willing to change his mind in…

So that’s two chief science advisors, several top doctors, a Government minister, a chief constable and a few peers of the realm. Can we now discuss decriminalising drugs?

I’m not going to bore you by talking about evidence, again. I’ve done that, several times, here and here and here and here and here. I’m also not going to bang on about Portugal or the Netherlands, I’m not going to remind you of the increasing popular support for decriminalisation, I’m not going to mention…

Japan nuclear crisis: Fukushima ‘meltdown’ is worrying, but this is no Chernobyl

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for two days, because I wanted to get it right. The events at Fukushima No1 Nuclear Power Plant are frighening and, understandably, they have attracted the attention of the world’s media. The words “meltdown” and “Chernobyl” have been bandied around, and every time I wrote something, the situation moved on, making each of my pronouncements out of date. So forgive me if that has happened again.

Will banning tobacco displays in shops help prevent young people smoking?

Our stringent tobacco laws may be about to get stricter. Not content with banning smoking in indoor public places, banning advertising, and attaching ever more graphic and startling warnings to the packages – following several other countries’ leads by including images of blackened lungs and such – cigarettes may now have to be sold under…

International Women’s Day: a critic writes

I wrote yesterday about International Women’s Day, saying that despite the improvements of recent decades, women are still not treated as the social, legal or economic equals of men. It’s particularly the case in many parts of the developing world, but, I said, a problem in Britain as well, as the gender pay gap shows….

International Women’s Day is great, but starting tomorrow, it’s 364 international men’s days again

Here’s an interesting take on the use of statistics for International Women’s Day. British women are “treated equally”, we declare, because “More than half of British women believe they are treated equally to men” and “four in 10 young women have never ‘personally experienced’ sexist remarks or sexist behaviour”. I’m sure the numbers are perfectly accurate, but I’d say they’re a sad indictment of the state of equality in this country, not a tribute to it.