James Ball

James Ball is the Global Editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which last month launched a two-year project looking into Russian infiltration of the UK elite and in London’s role in enabling overseas corruption

The dirty war of Sefton Delmer

There is an obvious problem with trying to judge who ‘won’ a propaganda war. Unlike its physical counterpart, there is virtually no real-world evidence either way, and everyone involved has spent years learning how to spin, manipulate and outright lie about reality to try to shape it into what they want. As a result, it

What would life on Mars actually look like?

Just as extreme altitudes have notable effects on the human body and mind, so too does extreme wealth seem to have a particular effect on psychology. Or at least that’s how it appears when you look at the shared ambition of two of the world’s most prominent billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Both men

James Ball: The Other Pandemic

56 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the investigative and tech writer James Ball, to talk about his new book The Other Pandemic: How QAnon Contaminated the World. In it, James traces the rise and disturbing metastasis of what he calls ‘the conspiracy theory that ate all the other conspiracy theories’, and argues that what

The bored teenagers who can disrupt the world

Most of us live a strange double life when it comes to hacking. We read headlines saying that our toaster might spy on us, that Russia is trying to hack into our social media, and that society as a whole could be under threat. At the same time, we install smart speakers in every room

Macron’s last adventure: the President vs the public

36 min listen

On the podcast: In his cover piece for the magazine, journalist Jonathan Miller argues that President Macron is pitting himself against the people by refusing to back down from his plans to raise the age of retirement. He is joined by regular Coffee House contributor Gavin Mortimer, to ask whether this could be Macron’s last

At sea: can Sunak navigate the migrant crisis?

36 min listen

On this week’s podcast: Can Rishi Sunak steady the ship? Patrick O’Flynn argues in his cover piece for The Spectator that the asylum system is broken. He is joined by Sunder Katwala, director of the think tank British Future, to consider what potential solutions are open to the Prime Minister to solve the small boats crisis (00:52).

With Mary Wakefield, James Ball and Christopher Howse

22 min listen

This week on Spectator Out Loud: Mary Wakefield tells us about her frustrating experience trying to give blood (00:49), James Ball says that it may be the beginning of the end for Mark Zuckerberg (07:04), and Christopher Howse reads his Notes on… signatures (16:44). Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.

Zuckerberg’s empire collapses

Mark Zuckerberg is in a lot of trouble. He has turned away from the slog of running Facebook to focus almost entirely on his ‘metaverse’, a vision of the internet where people enter interactive virtual spaces using virtual reality (VR) headsets. He has pledged investment of at least $10 billion a year for a decade,

Brexit isn’t to blame for sewage dumping at sea

Facing inflation rates in excess of 18 per cent, a painful recession, and the prospect of electricity bills costing more than a mortgage, the UK’s troubles are mounting. But weighing on our minds almost as much is the fact that we seem to be pumping unprecedented levels of sewage into the sea. This would be

Blue Murder

47 min listen

In this week’s episode:The knives are out in the Tory leadership fight, who looks likely to make the final two?Fraser Nelson writes this week’s cover piece about the Tory leadership race. He’s joined by the Telegraph’s Allison Pearson (0.49).Also this week:Mary Wakefield challenges Stonewall’s guidelines for parents with trans children. One of these parents is

What is the metaverse, actually?

There is a concept in tech and innovation – branded by an expensive consultancy company, naturally – known as the Gartner Hype Cycle. Any innovation, be it NFTs (a means of owning ‘unique’ digital art), blockchains (the technology powering crypto-currencies like bitcoin), self-driving cars or wearable tech, will go through distinct (buzzword-heavy) stages before it

Will there ever be a reliable lie detector?

For as long as we have been human we have looked for some way of telling when we are being told the truth. We tried dunking witches, only to find that buoyancy is not connected to the supernatural. We tried torture, but discovered that people will eventually say just about anything to make it stop.

Russia had nothing to do with Brexit

In light of Russia’s abhorrent invasion of Ukraine, certain corners of the internet have become obsessed – yet again – with Russia’s supposed involvement in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The connections are always left necessarily tenuous: there is very little in the way of logical reasoning that could really connect the two. Plenty of pro-Brexit figures have been

What motivates Peter Thiel apart from the desire for more wealth?

If you’ve only heard one thing about Peter Thiel (and many have heard nothing at all) it is that he is a believer in the power of young blood. The tech multibillionaire and founding investor of the surveillance company Palantir is a public advocate of parabiosis, an experimental field of biology investigating whether transfusions of

Priti Patel’s war on encryption is doomed

The modern world has an unfortunate habit of making life difficult for those working to keep us safe. For the police, security services and others, so many inventions seem to be created just to make it more difficult for them to see who’s up to no good.  Take envelopes, for one. Envelopes make it much

TikTok intifada: what’s the role of new media in old conflicts?

34 min listen

In this week’s podcast, we talk to James Ball, author of this week’s cover story on the ‘TikTok Intifada’ about the themes he uncovers in his analysis of the impact of social media on the conflict in the Middle East. The conversation with James continues with our next guest, Professor Gabriel Weinmann of Haifa University

TikTok intifada: the role of new media in old conflicts

In Israel last month, a video on the social media platform TikTok encouraged users to film themselves assaulting Orthodox Jews. That video became a spark that ignited outrage across the country. A band of Jewish extremists, Lehava, organised a march in response. They clashed with Arab groups at Damascus Gate. In a situation that was

Cashing in on Covid: the traders who thrive on a crisis

When we think of those lurching moments last spring when it became clear that much of the world, not just one or two regions, would grind to a halt, for most of us it is anything but a fond memory. But the traders of Glencore probably remember the time differently: they saw it as an

Facebook has called the Australian media’s bluff

In 2021, it’s not uncommon to hope that everyone involved in an argument can lose, or to suspect that pretty much everyone is in the wrong. So it is with the long-running saga involving Australia’s mainstream media outlets, its government, and the tech giants, which has led this week to Facebook banning users from sharing