Best of the Moment
Economist | 17th October 2013
Scientists are getting sloppy, and science journals too. Much recent research is "poorly thought through, or executed, or both". Statistical errors are frequent. Peer-review fails. Results cannot be reproduced. "Professional pressure, competition and ambition push scientists to publish more quickly than would be wise." In career terms, better a reckless result that gets published than a cautious one that does not (Metered paywall)
Barbara Walter | Political Violence | 18th October 2013
Data points for modelling an end to the Syrian conflict. Civil wars don't end quickly: average length since 1945 is ten years. The greater the number of factions, the longer a civil war tends to last. Most civil wars end in decisive military victories, not negotiated settlements. The ones that do end with negotiated settlements divide political power amongst the combatants based on their position on the battlefield
James Verini | National Geographic | 16th October 2013
Stunning report from northern Nigeria, where half the children are stunted by malnutrition, most women cannot read, and decades of ethno-religious slaughter have culminated in a reign of terror by Boko Haram ("learning is forbidden"), an Islamist movement responsible for 4,700 deaths, many of them in battles with the goverment's brutal security forces. "Boko Haram has become a kind of national synonym for fear"
Daniel Mendelsohn | New York Review Of Books | 17th October 2013
For all the boy's adventure stuff in Game Of Thrones, the more striking feature is the strength of the female characters: it is "a remarkable feminist epic." And a gritty one: "The willingness to mete out harsh consequences, rather than dreaming up ways to keep its main characters alive for another season, feels more authentic than anything even the best series in this new golden age of television can provide"
Matthew Sperling | Literary Review | 14th October 2013
Review of A Strong Song Tows Us, by Richard Burton, on the extraordinary life of poet Basil Bunting. "He was bailed from prison by Ezra Pound after drunkenly assaulting a police officer, and worked as Ford Madox Ford's secretary. He followed Pound to Rapallo, where he became friendly with Yeats and helped to discover lost works by Vivaldi and Scarlatti". Later he became Britain's top spy in the Middle East
Thought for the day:
"Nothing important comes with instructions"— James Richardson