Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland

A miracle has happened in Britain’s pharmacies

A small miracle happened in politics recently. Someone had a good idea, and then enacted it really quickly. I popped into my local chemist’s last week and the nice chap behind the counter recommended a few treatments, adding that if I still felt rough in a few days, he could give me some antibiotics. Eh?

Why are bosses so suspicious of remote working? 

The swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 medals, 23 of them gold. He is a former world record holder in the 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, and 400m individual medley. But let’s just analyse his world-record time for the 200m freestyle – an amazing

Rory Sutherland

The insanity of banning vape flavours

Nicotine may have some deleterious and costly health effects, but so do winter sports, mountaineering, motorcycling and many other activities we leave to personal choice. (I have never been asked to work on a government anti-skiing campaign, though if the opportunity arose I would happily volunteer my services for free.) But it is absurd that vaping

The lesson AI must learn from nature

What’s the difference between a café and a restaurant? It’s not as simple as it seems. Yes, the food at a restaurant will be fancier and more substantial. But there is a social distinction too: a restaurant places you under an obligation; a café does not. When you enter a café you order something out

The box-tickers shall inherit the Earth

Back in the late 1960s, a Welsh surgeon was returning home late, fell asleep at the wheel and fatally crashed into a tree. My aunt, a doctor, remarked that 30 years earlier a surgeon of such eminence would have had his own driver, and the accident would not have happened. Probably true. And it reminds

Kitchen renovations are a zero-sum game

Writing a few weeks ago in The Spectator, Toby Young slightly begrudged his wife’s decision to install a new kitchen in the Acton home they have shared for 15 years. As Toby explained, the original kitchen ‘had been done to quite a high standard in the style known as “Victoriana”, which meant William Morris wallpaper,

Cryptic crosswords are hard – but so is life

As regular readers will know, I am an inveterate fan of cryptic crosswords. At the everyday level, they are the perfect way to kill 20-50 minutes of otherwise boring time. There is a refined elegance to clue-setting: the best are little works of art. Crossword-solving also cultivates the useful talent of looking beneath the clue’s

We need to talk about cannabis

Before we celebrate the ban on tobacco sales to people below a certain age, we need to consider what habits might take its place. And it might not only be vaping. Approaching the Holland tunnel in New York a few summers ago, I lowered my car window and was hit by the stench of cannabis

The beauty of mid-range products

Once or twice, when on a crowded overnight flight, I have taken a sneaky stroll through the different cabins for the purpose of comparison. My reaction on first peering into each cabin goes like this. First class: ‘Gosh, this is fabulous. It’s like a restaurant in the air.’ Business class: ‘Ooh, this is nice; they

Are we asking the wrong questions about HS2?

I am not sure there was much else Rishi could have done to salvage HS2. But I come bearing good news. There is no reason why HS2 cannot still be a great railway, even if it travels along the wrong route at the wrong speed and was constructed in the wrong direction to solve a

Is there such a thing as too much empathy? 

Back in the 1970s, a less politically correct age, there was a standby formula for television advertising known as 2Cs in a K, which would feature two women by a washing machine engaged in unlikely conversation about some wondrous new detergent. Since The Spectator is a family publication, I shall pretend that 2Cs in a

Why we hate surge pricing – but love happy hour

A Dominican and a Jesuit were chain smokers. Both were eager to be allowed to smoke while performing their devotions, but needed to gain permission from a higher authority. ‘I tried asking the Prior, but he was dead against it,’ said the Dominican. ‘What did you ask, precisely?’ enquired the Jesuit. ‘Well, I asked him

Why driving above the speed limit is a mug’s game 

Imagine you are choosing between two proposed road-improvement plans, but have the budget for only one. Both of the roads mooted for improvement are 20 miles long, and your sole aim is to reduce average journey time by as much as possible. Which would you choose? Someone travelling slowly to begin with has more time

What a full English breakfast can tell us about the state of the NHS

Among devotees of the full English breakfast, few things polarise more than the inclusion of baked beans. Some people are unrepentant berfs (beans exclusionary radical foodies) whereas others consider beans a coda to close the symphony. My own view is conciliatory: provided the beans are in a separate pot, I’m happy. ‘Hash brown technologies’ seem

What I learned from being debanked

My own debanking story concerns a card rather than a bank account. Not the same degree of inconvenience as Nigel Farage, but a similarly telling insight into modern administrative culture. I feel awkward writing this, because in the 30 years I have used American Express, including an enjoyable decade when I also worked for the

Just stop HS2!

I have two suggestions for HS2. Either stop it or make it stop. The spiralling cost and delays are reason enough to rethink the project, never mind the changes to patterns of rail use since 2021. Any economic case based on pre–pandemic projections needs to be revisited. So one option would be to stop the project

Light bulb moment: the flaw in the petrol car ban

This week, writing in the Daily Mail, Matt Ridley produced a devastating takedown of the government’s 2030 ban on the sale of new conventionally powered cars. He plans to pre-empt the ban himself by buying a brand-new petrol car in 2029. Innovation happens gradually and delivers its benefits unevenly – therefore it is stupid to