Thursday, 7 April 2011

Eternal Life: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 15 Part 2


In the last episode we saw the Nazarenes move into the newly rebuilt Jerusalem after Hadrian had destroyed it and expelled the Jews.  This time I am looking at just  what is was about an obscure and until recently exclusively Jewish sect that enabled it to take over the Roman Empire.   

Monday, 4 April 2011

Western Imperialism not to blame for Islamic world's problems

He's at it again.

Here is Niall Ferguson on the BBC arguing strongly that the problems of the Islamic world are not the fault of Western imperialism but are in fact the fault of, well Islam.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Niall Ferguson: Civilization- Is the West History? Channel 4 Consumerism


The subject of the fifth episode in Niall Ferguson's series was consumerism, which predictably enough he quite likes.  I think most of us have a soft spot for consumerism whether or not we admit to others or even to ourselves.  But it is a rather magical feeling going to the shops and finding that everything you can imagine wanting and quite a bit of stuff you never even knew you wanted is piled up ready for you to take away.  As long you have deep enough pockets.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Is Climate Change the new Eugenics?


Writing in the Telegraph James Delingpole picks up on a throw away point made by Niall Ferguson in the episode about medicine in his series Civilization: Is the West History?   Ferguson pointed out that eugenics was widely believed at the turn of the twentieth century, but is now known to be nonsense and dangerous nonsense at that.  Ferguson points out that man made climate change is widely believed today.

There are a number of possible interpretations of this.  One is that Ferguson is simply drawing a comparison to show that eugenics was a mainstream belief accepted by a great many well respected people.  Or you could take it that Ferguson was pointing out that man made climate change is another widely held but wrong idea, possibly an equally dangerous one.

But I hold to a third way of looking at it.  Ferguson is a mischief maker who deliberately dropped in a controversial point.  He artfully made it ambiguous enough to wind people up across the spectrum.  When someone is trying to wind you up, don't be wound up strikes me as the best response.