Security

Everyone is aware of the placebo effect, in which a mock or inert intervention like a sugar pill in a clinical trial will nonetheless produce what seem like real effects to the people who receive it. The nocebo effect is the opposite: where people exposed to something harmless can experience apparent ill effects because they […]

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The most disturbing thing about the January 6th riot and Trump coup attempt has been the reaction of American politicians. Despite being witnesses and targets of the attack, politics as usual has persisted, including Trump’s dominance of the Republican party. This suggests a substantial danger that Americans in power will choose the victory of their […]

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The scope of the Israeli request for French technological assistance, the details of which Shimon Peres spelled out in Paris in 1956/1957, was tantamount to a national proliferation commitment. Enough is now known about the extent of the Dimona deal to appreciate how determined Ben-Gurion was to pursue it. The Dimona nuclear complex was designed […]

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One of the certain consequences of climate change is that it will change the relative prospects and appeal of living in different areas, both in the short-term as acute incidents like wildfires and floods occur and long-term as agricultural productivity, water availability, and sea level shift. This is a reason why climate justice activists see […]

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This week’s issue of The Economist has Taiwan on the cover and describes it as the “most dangerous place on Earth”. It is widely reported that a central purpose behind China’s military buildup and particularly the acquisition of naval and amphibious warfare capabilities is the country’s ambition to conquer its democratic neighbour. The implications thereof […]

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Britain’s Armageddon weapon are their four Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant, and Vengeance. Since decomissioning their aircraft-dropped bombs in 1998, the subs have been the only means of delivery for British nuclear weapons, with each possessing 16 ballistic missile tubes for Trident D5 missiles, each built to carry as many as 14 of […]

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The Biden administration has announced that most US forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11th. What have we learned since 2001 and what have the consequences of the war been? Could Al Qaeda have been expelled or destroyed without the invasion? How will the US / NATO / Canadian intervention affect Afghanistan’s long-term future? […]

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But the Patten con [an evangelical congregation cultivated and exploited for self-enrichment of the preachers] wasn’t just any scam. It was the scam of all scams—the one that gets to the heart of why confidence games not only work but thrive the world over, no matter how many expert debunkers and vocal victims there may […]

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The confidence game starts with basic human psychology. From the artist’s perspective, it’s a question of identifying the victim (the put-up): who he is, what does he want, and how can I play on that desire to achieve what I want? It requires the creation of empathy and rapport (the play): an emotional foundation must […]

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In the 1950s, the linguist David Maurer began to delve more deeply into the world of confidence men than any had before him. He called them, simply, “aristocrats of crime.” Hard crime—outright theft or burglary, violence, threats—is not what the confidence artist is about. The confidence game—the con—is an exercise in soft skills. Trust, sympathy, […]

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