Student with an interest in economics, law, the environment and politics.

Karl Popper’s paradox of tolerance

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Photo by sasan rashtipour on Unsplash

If a society is tolerant, then surely it should tolerate intolerance?

A common rebuttal to accusations of hate speech or discrimination is the idea that calling out intolerant behaviour is itself an act of intolerance. The implication is that by calling out and rejecting intolerance, society is being intolerant. As such, it could be argued that a tolerant society should tolerate intolerance.

And breathe.

Karl Popper, the influential Austrian-born British philosopher and academic, stated that, while paradoxical, unlimited and unchecked tolerance can lead to the extinction of tolerance in its entirety. …


Adjusting to climate change by living in giant floating cities

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Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

Intelligence agencies rank climate change as one of the greatest security risks of our time, citing an increase in the prevalence of natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.

Contributing to this risk, rising sea-levels and excessive groundwater pumping put cities like Venice, Miami, Jakarta and Lagos at risk of submersion within the next century.

These consequences reveal a need to abandon our obsession with infinite growth and fossil fuels, and prepare for a series of inevitable changes to our planet’s climate and geography.

Historically, little has been done to utilise one of our planet’s most abundant resources: the oceans, with humanity only beginning to explore the oceans’ potential to generate renewable electricity, such as through tidal and offshore wind power. In recent years, it has been suggested that the oceans could be further employed to improve standards of living and combat climate change. …


Is a 250-day Duolingo streak worth the time?

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Public Domain — Credit: Listen & Learn

I recently reached the 250-day (unbroken streak) milestone with the language-learning app Duolingo. Here are my thoughts on my progress during this time and whether using Duolingo every day has been worthwhile.

But, first, here’s a rough outline of my background in learning Spanish:

I learned Spanish throughout my time at secondary school (between the ages of 11 and 16) and had a decent grasp of conversational Spanish vocabulary and grammar.

I generally understood how and when to use the present, past preterite, past imperfect, future inflection and conditional future tenses and had a basic awareness of the present subjunctive and past subjunctive tenses. …


The pioneering scientists that first predicted climate change

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Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

The greenhouse effect was first developed as a concept in the 1820s, but it was only widely accepted as an explanation for climate change over a century later, in the mid-1900s.

The climate pioneers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries paved the way for scientists today, advancing our understanding of global warming. Here are a few of climate science’s most instrumental founding figures:

Eunice Foot

In 1856, a women’s right activist by the name Eunice Foote became the first person to demonstrate the greenhouse effect in action.

Foote filled a number of glass cylinders with different gases and tested the effects of exposing them to sunlight. The experiment revealed that one gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), produced particularly intriguing results. She noted that “The receiver containing the gas became itself much heated… and on being removed, it was many times as long in cooling…”. …


Overcoming meta-communication

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Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

It is common knowledge that humans are more strongly affected by emotional influences than objective facts. And, while emotion has its place, our emotional responsiveness can leave us vulnerable to manipulation.

One way in which your emotions are manipulated every day is by advertising, or more specifically, the meta-communication concealed within advertising. Meta-communication describes the secondary communication of information intended to convey an implied, underlying or alternative message without explicitly stating it.

In advertising, secondary communication often takes the form of an ad’s music, setting or characters. Together, these aspects combine to convince us of something using emotional stimulus. …


A guided tour of the city that knows everything about you

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Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

Upon entry, your office building detects who you are, where you’re going and what you need using thousands of data-collecting sensors. Using this data, the building adapts to personal preference, optimising its internal climate through finite adjustments in temperature, humidity and lighting.

On your way to work, school or university, you pass lamp posts riddled with sensors that collect data and monitor the world around them. These lamp posts then deliver updates on traffic and air quality, cutting down on journey times and ensuring the safety of commuters. …


Price gouging and the pandemic

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Photo by Claire Mueller on Unsplash

Price gouging is where a seller increases the price of goods to a level that is considered unfair, often as a response to an economic shock.

Non-economists are generally united in the belief that price gouging exploits vulnerable victims of crises, and so support strict anti-gouging regulations. But there exists a subgroup of neoclassical economists that reject this notion in favour of the efficiency and morality of price gouging.

The Colvin Brothers

In the US, the New York Times reports, two brothers rent a truck and travel around Tennessee and Kentucky. …


The little-known inventor behind the computer mouse

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Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

In 1960, Douglas Engelbart was an electrical engineering student at the Stanford Research Institute. He realised that the way people operated their new computers, with cumbersome keyboards and unwieldy joysticks, was deeply inefficient.

Engelbart developed a device that could control an on-screen cursor, named the bug, with two perpendicular wheels, connected to the computer using a wire. Nasa trialled his invention in 1966, concluding that its efficiency far surpassed that of alternative devices.

Two years later, Douglas introduced the mouse to a crowd of 1,000 in San Francisco, alongside co-inventor Bill English. The demonstration, which became known as ‘The Mother of All Demos’, was also the first to exhibit the operation of windows, hypertext and word processing as part of the all-in-one oN-Line System. …


How North Korea, a country once wealthier than South Korea, descended into poverty

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Photo by Random Institute on Unsplash

North Korea is now one of the poorest countries on Earth, relying largely on Chinese aid. But the per capita GDP of North Korea was once far greater than that of its (now wealthy) southern counterpart, South Korea, and of its most powerful ally, China.

This is the story of North Korea’s economic surge in the 1970s and 80s, and it’s incessant decline since the early 1990s.

The Rise of North Korea

Starting in 1970, North Korea’s economy experiences a sharp upturn, with per capita nominal GDP increasing from $384 to $836 in 1985, an average yearly increase in the country’s growth rate of up to 25%. …


How Syndrome K tricked the Nazis into sparing the lives of Italian Jews

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Giovanni Borromeo — Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In 1943, Nazi soldiers in Italy begin deporting thousands of Jews to concentration camps. Most never return home. Meanwhile, a handful of doctors in Rome are busy concocting a scheme designed to save Jews from this hideous fate.

This group of dissident medics, led by Dr Vittorio Sacerdoti, fabricates a disease that is lethal enough to make Nazi soldiers fear even sharing in a room with anyone infected by it.

When Nazis ransack a Jewish ghetto near Tiber River in Rome, these doctors hide a number of Jewish fugitives within the walls of Fatebenefratelli Hospital. …

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