archive

Friday 16 October 2015


Tick-box policy won’t raise free-range kids

A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ‘a fit and healthy childhood’ encourages adults to let children engage in more risky activities. But sadly the dozens of recommendations and interventions contained within the report risk further encouraging a tick-box approach to raising children.

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Friday 21 August 2015


The myth of England’s miserable kids

The Children’s Society’s latest report relies on nonsense measures and meaningless stats.

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Monday 20 October 2014


Tommy the chimp is just an animal, not a prisoner

The campaign to give a chimpanzee ‘legal personhood’ is ludicrous.

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Friday 11 July 2014


Saving normal in a world gone mad

One psychiatrist’s rebellion against the pathologisation of everyday life.

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Monday 24 March 2014


Early childhood maketh not the man

John Bruer talks to Helene Guldberg about the myth of the first three years being pivotal.

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Thursday 23 January 2014


The dangerous myth of today’s ‘toxic’ childhood

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Monday 9 December 2013


Review: The Book of Woe

In The Book of Woe: the DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry, psychoanalyst and journalist Gary Greenberg examines the history of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), revealing the “deeply flawed process by which mental disorders are invented and uninvented”.

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Monday 4 November 2013


Giving sibling rivalry a bad name

The anti-bullying industry has now turned its attentions to brothers and sisters.

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Tuesday 16 July 2013


The Determinist Myth of the Early Years

Whether based on attachment theory or neurobabble, the claim that human beings are set in stone by the age of three is groundless.

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Friday 7 June 2013


‘This manual is, frankly, a disaster for children’

Christopher Lane talks to spiked about the new edition of the bible of psychiatry – ‘a legal document facilitating the medication of millions’.

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Friday 10 May 2013


What’s worse than bullying? Anti-bullying intervention

Emily Bazelon’s new book makes a powerful, eloquent case against too much adult meddling in children’s spats and scraps.

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Thursday 10 January 2013


Does watching TV give you cancer? Of course not

News reports claiming that TV-addicted kids risk getting cancer confirm that the scaremongers mean business in 2013. It’s time to fight back.

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Wednesday 17 October 2012


Switch off the junk science, not the TV

The recent claim that too much television is bad for children is just another policy agenda dressed up as science.

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Thursday 19 April 2012


The National Trust’s imagination deficit

Last week, conservation charity the National Trust launched a nationwide campaign titled 50 Things to do Before You’re 11¾ with the aim of encouraging ‘sofa-bound children’ to take to the outdoors and ‘enjoy classic adventures’. The 50 things children should do before their twelfth birthday included everything from running around in the rain, skimming stones, building dens and bug hunting, to setting up a snail race, damming a stream, flying a kite and making a mud pie.

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Monday 16 January 2012


Ignore these pedlars of panic - the kids are all right

Report after report tells us that children are sad, lost and in need of expert intervention. Real-world evidence suggests otherwise.

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Thursday 24 November 2011


Anti-bullying campaigns: doing more harm than good?

ESSAY: Of course extreme cases of bullying should be tackled, but let’s not pathologise normal childhood relationships.

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Friday 17 June 2011


Animals don’t have morality, people do

In his attempt to prove that beasts have morals, Dale Peterson airbrushes away all the things that make humans unique in the animal kingdom.

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Friday 28 January 2011


The chasm that separates great apes from humans

Jon Cohen’s new book reminds us that, for all the claims that apes and human beings are ‘98.5 per cent the same’ in terms of genetics, there is still an unfathomable gap between us.

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Thursday 18 November 2010


Are we just another ape?

Today human beings are constantly denigrated. Prominent philosophers, scientists, social scientists, novelists and aristocrats have gone so far as to call for the mass culling – or even elimination – of humans.

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Wednesday 3 November 2010


Animals are useless, unless humans make use of them

We have built cities, cured diseases and created art, yet some people think humans are worth no more than apes.

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Thursday 19 August 2010


Orang-utans are not remotely like humans

Experts should know better than to claim that great apes can communicate in a similar way to human beings.

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Thursday 8 July 2010


Set children free by trusting adults

We can only give kids the independence they need if we have faith in other people to look out for them.

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Monday 21 June 2010


Why we are different from apes

Guest blog post, Eureka Zone, The Times

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Thursday 27 May 2010


Sorry, but it can be GOOD for children to be bullied

Daily Mail

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Wednesday 5 May 2010


Chimps don't mourn like humans

‘Chimps “feel death like humans”‘, the BBC reported last week. And according to Scientific American: ‘Like tool use and self-awareness, distinct grief and mourning might be just one more thing we share with our closest living relatives.‘ No it’s not, says Helene Guldberg.

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Thursday 29 April 2010


Monkeys mourning? Don’t make me laugh

A handful of chimp mothers carrying around their dead babies is not evidence of ‘human-like’ qualities.

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Monday 1 March 2010


The myth of racist kids

The problem with anti-bullying and anti-racist policies

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Friday 26 February 2010


Racialising the playground

A brave new book challenges the introduction of anti-racist policies in British schools, arguing that they blow everyday spats out of proportion and split kids along ethnic lines.

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Tuesday 4 August 2009


Let the Children Play

Adults’ fears and mistrust are the reason our youngsters can no longer enjoy free-roaming summer holidays, says Helene Guldberg in The Independent

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Wednesday 29 July 2009


Bullying the public

The latest NSPCC/ChildLine initiative on bullied children presents both adults and kids as toxic beings.

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Friday 26 June 2009


Restating the case for human uniqueness

A brilliant new book cuts through all the media-oriented research about ‘clever chimps’ using tools, doing maths and feeling human emotions, and reminds us that, in truth, there is nothing remotely human about primates.

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Friday 24 April 2009


It’s time to move beyond the nature/nurture divide

In advising parents to ignore hectoring experts, Judith Rich Harris’s book still packs a punch 10 years on. But its use of evolutionary theory and social psychology to explain how people are ‘shaped’ leaves much to be desired.

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Thursday 19 March 2009


Chimps are like humans? Stop monkeying around

This week it was revealed that chimps use sticks to smash open beehives. But there’s nothing remotely ‘human-like’ in such behaviour.

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Monday 2 February 2009


The mother of all interventions

We should roundly reject the new UK report which argues that time-stretched parents are producing damaged children.

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Monday 29 December 2008


‘Autistic children are now seen as a burden’

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, author of Defeating Autism, talks to Helene Guldberg about how raising a child with autism can be made infinitely harder – emotionally, financially and practically – by the charlatanic ‘war on autism’.

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Monday 17 November 2008


Don’t outlaw boisterous
banter in the playground

As Britain launches another Anti-Bullying Week, the author of Reclaiming Childhood says demonising teasing can do more harm than good.

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Wednesday 27 August 2008


The shame of Salman Rushdie’s
secular fatwa

In using England’s archaic libel laws to have books pulped, the former free speech martyr puts himself in the same camp as censorious mullahs.

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Wednesday 6 August 2008


Don't blame parents for
'cotton-wool kids'

Today is Playday, a celebration of children’s ‘right to play’ - and an ideal time to have a kickabout with the culture of fear that imprisons our kids.

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Thursday 26 June 2008


No defender of liberty should use the libel laws

England’s law of defamation is the enemy of free speech. So why did the head of Liberty threaten a minister with a writ?

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Thursday 28 February 2008


Heart disease: we need medicine
not moralism

Fear of rising heart deaths is unfounded. And if we’re serious about lowering the death rate even further, we need better treatment not lifestyle lectures.

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Friday 18 January 2008


Humanity, thou art sick

Shyness is now ‘social phobia’, and dissent is ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’. How did everyday emotions come to be seen as illnesses?

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Thursday 3 January 2008


Shooting down the feminist Thought Police?

The UK government says adults should chill out and let boys play with toy guns. But who made us so uptight about kids’ play in the first place?

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Wednesday 14 November 2007


A playground tumble can do you good

More experts recognise that a scraped knee can be a positive experience for a child. Let’s hope they now relax about other ‘dangers’ in kids’ lives.

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Tuesday 16 October 2007


The myth of stressed and depressed schoolkids

If we’re not careful, claims that young people can’t cope with the ‘intense pressure’ of exams could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Friday 24 August 2007


A childish panic about the next generation

Many of those fretting over the state of contemporary childhood, concerned that kids are passive, cooped up and sedentary, are motivated by naked nostalgia - sometimes even by snobbery.

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Monday 11 June 2007


Are children being held hostage by parental fears?

A new report calls on parents to let their kids venture out unsupervised. That might be easier if scaremongering officials put a sock in it.

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Monday 19 March 2007


A tick-box attitude to toddlers

When even infants are expected to achieve ‘69 early learning goals’, you know that no area of life is free from New Labour’s tyranny of targets.

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Thursday 28 December 2006


A hard cell

Eve Herold on why we should take sides in the Stem Cell Wars, and cheer those scientists pushing the boundaries.

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Thursday 23 November 2006


Down with the Supernanny State

When ministers and TV gurus constantly bang on about the pitfalls of parenting, it is little wonder that some mums and dads feel they ‘can’t cope’.

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Friday 17 November 2006


Back to skool

When officials offer parents lessons in singing nursery rhymes, it’s no wonder some are losing confidence in their abilities.

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Friday 20 October 2006


'There's no such thing as "stress"'

Angela Patmore has been branded a ‘heartless bitch’ for her attack on the stress management industry. Calm down and get a life, she tells her critics.

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Friday 13 October 2006


Publish, and you can still be damned

An ‘historic’ judgement in the House of Lords might make it easier to defend a libel case, but leaves press freedom subject to a bad law.

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Tuesday 8 August 2006


A hairy moment for free speech

Tommy Sheridan’s libel win over the News of the World was no ‘victory’ for the working class. It was a victory for an archaic law over open debate.

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Thursday 22 June 2006


Stop weeping over whaling

The attack on Japan for continuing to hunt whales is cultural imperialism dressed up in PC lingo.

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Friday 2 June 2006


'Animals are less valuable than human beings'

Leading researcher John Martin tells Helene Guldberg why it is morally justifiable to cause heart attacks in rats - and why he isn’t scared of animal rights extremists.

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Friday 26 May 2006


Stop celebrating Tourette’s

From TV documentaries to Big Brother, why has a neurological disorder become so fashionably fascinating?

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Monday 30 January 2006


Chemical stories can make you blind

A new report washes away some of the myths about ‘potentially deadly’ chemicals.

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Monday 16 January 2006


'This is like a badly written Greek tragedy'

Stephen Minger of King’s Stem Cell Biology Laboratory on the fall from grace of South Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang.

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Thursday 3 November 2005


Man is more than a beast

The primatologist Frans de Waal says we should get in touch with ‘our inner ape’. Speak for yourself.

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Friday 29 July 2005


Singer on 'speciesism': a specious argument

In his new book In Defense of Animals, Peter Singer reduces the value of human life to a tick-list of capabilities.

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Monday 25 July 2005


Why Roman picked London for his libel trial

How does a film director based in France who is a fugitive from the USA sue a US publisher and win? By taking his case to ‘a town called Sue’.

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Monday 9 May 2005


How can we halt the 'march of unreason'?

Dick Taverne on why we need to defend the Enlightenment against dodgy science and ‘dogmatic environmentalists’.

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Friday 8 April 2005


All in the hormones?

Vivienne Parry, author of The Truth About Hormones, questions whether chemicals control our destinies.

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Friday 3 December 2004


Galloway 1, free speech 0

Ex-Labour MP George Galloway was defamed, but his victory under English libel law is nothing to celebrate.

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Friday 26 November 2004


Stop apologising for animal experiments

We don’t need more laws against animal rights activists, but a more robust defence of animal experimentation.

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Friday 30 July 2004


Keep taking the tablets

Forget the scare stories, says Diarmuid Jeffreys, author of a history of aspirin – the little white pill is ‘one of the most amazing creations in medical history’.

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Tuesday 24 February 2004


Why humans are superior to apes

The fashion for equating chimps with children is based on a degraded view of humanity and an ignorance about animals.

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Friday 23 May 2003


Scaring into space

A new book by Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, gives humanity a 50/50 chance of survival.

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Thursday 11 July 2002


Positing the positive

Charles Leadbeater, author of Up the Down Escalator, talked to Helene Guldberg about the politics of pessimism.

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Wednesday 22 May 2002


'I have not jumped off the modernity boat'

Francis Fukuyama talks about History after 11 September, human exceptionalism, Ritalin and Islam.

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Thursday 24 January 2002


'This is a case of table pounding'

The ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’ Bjorn Lomborg tells Helene Guldberg how he has weathered the storm of reaction against him.

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