Category Archives: Psychology

Outbreaks of all kinds: The Rules of Contagion review

DID you notice? There was a moment when something shifted, and all topics of conversation besides Covid-19 started to sound trivial. Things will surely shift again, as people realise that the self-confinement could last and escapism becomes our collective goal, but for now Adam Kucharski’s The Rules of Contagion is the book you might want to reach for. Not least – given that the present pandemic is very much in the ascendant – for its subtitle: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop

Even loneliness is catching

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 25 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

Closed borders and black weddings

PLAGUES – or, to use a more modern term, epidemics of infectious disease – pluck at our most primal fears. We have lived with them for at least 10,000 years, ever since our ancestors took up farming and built the first semi-permanent settlements. And they have always had the upper hand. They know us intimately, preying on our strengths – our sociability, our love of gossip – and turning them into weaknesses. They are always a step ahead, and once they are out, like the genie, we can’t get them back in. All we can do is limit the damage. So here we are again…

Poor advice

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 11 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

 

Epidemics expert Jonathan Quick: ‘The worst-case scenario for coronavirus is likely’

IN 2018 global health expert Jonathan D Quick, of Duke University in North Carolina, published a book titled The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It. In it he prescribed measures by which the world could protect itself against devastating disease outbreaks of the likes of the 1918 flu, which killed millions and set humanity back decades. He is the former chair of the Global Health Council and a long-term collaborator of the World Health Organization (WHO)…

Jonathan Quick

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 1 March 2020. To continue reading, click here.

Fake news and infectious disease

JUST over 100 years ago, the so-called Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people, in probably the worst pandemic the world has seen. It erupted in the northern hemisphere spring of 1918 and circled the globe over the next three years…

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 1 March 2020 . To continue reading, click here (paywall – I know, the irony).

There was no Axial “Age”

IT’S an idea that has been influential for more than 200 years: around the middle of the first millennium BC, humanity passed through a psychological watershed and became modern. This ‘Axial Age’ transformed an archaic world of divine rulers, slavery and human sacrifice into a more enlightened era that valued social justice, family values and the rule of law. The appeal of the general concept is such that some have claimed humanity is now experiencing a second Axial Age driven by rapid population growth and technological change. Yet according to the largest ever cross-cultural survey of historical and archaeological data, the first of these ages never happened — or at least unfolded differently from the originally proposed narrative…

Karl Jaspers, 1946

This article was first published in Nature on 9 December 2019. To continue reading, click here.