Disease of the mind? 7th July 2009
In his review of Richard Bentall’s new book (July), Alexander Linklater writes: “If psychiatric disorders are diseases at all, they are diseases of the mind rather than of the brain.” Whatever the flaws in Bentall’s analysis of psychiatry, I’m not sure that a critic who still believes in the Cartesian separation of mind and body is best equipped to tackle them. Linklater should be prescribed a course of Daniel Dennett before being permitted to attempt the territory again. Jessica Figueras London SE12
Test cricket is here to stay 27th June 2009
As long as novels are read, Shakespeare is performed, Hindi cinema is watched and we don’t become so fat that we can’t throw a ball 22 yards with either spin or pace, Test cricket will survive—despite what Mike Brearley (July) might fear. It is not Test but one-day cricket that is out of tune. It’s neither here nor there. That said, if Brearley is half as good a psychoanalyst as he is author of The Art of Captaincy, his sessions must be a delight. Aniruddha G Kulkarni Via the Prospect blog
Vote no to referendums 5th July 2009
Peter Kellner’s excellent argument against referendums (July) need not look as far as California to support its case. Ireland furnishes equally telling examples. Here, constitutional changes must be approved by referendum—the most recent in June 2008 resulting in a “no” vote to the Lisbon treaty.
But what was the referendum actually about? The largest element of the “no” vote, it seems, was derived from people who did not understand the proposition before them—thanks to the failure of an idle and incompetent political class to explain the issue, as well as the serial mendacities, exaggerations and scaremongering of the “no” campaign. There were “no” votes to protect our military neutrality, to prevent bug-eyed Euro-monsters foisting abortion on our sainted isle and similar nonsense that had nothing to do with the Lisbon treaty. Whatever people were voting on, it was not the issue at hand.
Yet one constituency was strangely at odds with the prevailing trend. Laois-Offaly is right in the centre of the country and borders six other constituencies, four of which were staunchly “no” and one of which could only manage a “yes” majority of four votes. Yet Laois-Offaly produced a whopping 56 per cent “yes” vote—by far the largest majority outside the…