The myth of collective wisdom

After 250 years of American independence, a nation home to many of the smartest and most talented people in the world may have to choose as its leader one of two people, each of whom is in many ways worse than His late Majesty George III, the man whose role the entire system was designed to replace. It is dangerous to assume that the more people who are involved in a decision, the better the outcome will be The absurdity emerges from the nature of the system – which, like many such systems, works very well right up to the point where it suddenly doesn’t. Faced with an unexpected combination

How men’s wardrobes prove constraints can be good for us

One thing that surprised every-one during lockdown was how many people derived unexpected pleasure from living under imposed restrictions. Can people become happier when temporarily prevented from doing things they would normally do? Almost certainly. Sometimes such circumstances force us to try something new which we subsequently prefer; at other times we enjoy having an external excuse not to do things we don’t want to do at all. There is an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry gleefully realises that his mother’s death provides him with a reason to cancel all his upcoming engagements. All of us, I suspect, recognise this: we have moments where we are grateful to