Showing posts from December, 2015

Has gambling got out of control?

(Originally published by the Guardian)

Most people are able to place a small bet once in a while without suffering any real consequences beyond losing a tenner. However, for a small minority, gambling can become a serious addiction with the power to destroy lives. 
In the UK, it’s estimated that around 350,000 people suffer from an addiction to gambling – recently classified as a disorder in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM V) – and those numbers are growing.
Last week the Guardian hosted a debate in collaboration with Discuss, where two expert speakers debated whether or not gambling is now out of control. Here’s what they thought:
If members of the audience were in any doubt about the potential for gambling to cause harm, few remained unconvinced after hearing the first speaker, Paul Buck, recount his personal story. Buck who is the founder of EPIC, a problem gambling consultancy, began his career in retail shortly after graduating …

Syria debate proves critical thinking should be taught in schools

(Originally published by New Internationalist)

The level of debate around whether Britain should bomb Syria demonstrates why critical thinking should become a compulsory subject for children in British schools. To give an example, if someone puts forward the argument: "Bombing Syria will strengthen, not weaken, ISIS and make things worse for all of us", the standard reply: "so what are you proposing; that we just do nothing?" isnota logically valid counter-argument.
The question of whether we should bomb Syria or whether bombing will be counter-productive is entirely separate from the question of whether or not there are other policies, that do not involve bombing, which could have a positive effect. The onus is on those defending bombing to demonstrate that their policy is likely to have positive, rather than negative, consequences. Merely asking their opponent what they would do instead adds nothing to their argument whatsoever. 
This is understood in almost every o…