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I do not like the sound of “blood clots”. Many European leaders don’t like the sound of them either. Not nice, as my Granny used to say. It seems that some people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccination appear to have developed blood clots, 37 among 17 million people Europeans given the vaccine, so many... Read More
On Monday England was given an indication as to how it will eventually get out of lockdown. Gradually, and in very careful stages, seems to be the answer. We are in our third lockdown, and have staggered through two false dawns. What is different now is that vaccinations have been completed on 17.7 million citizens... Read More
In this part of the world, the first side effect of vaccines has been political. Europe’s nations are now competing to get vaccinated, and the ructions have been considerable. From the start, the UK took a vaccine friendly stance. Early on it decided that vaccination was the long-term solution, and all else was merely a... Read More
A General Practitioner is the English term for what in other countries is called a Family Doctor. She rang us up last week to offer us vaccinations, asking three questions: are you fit and well; have you had a flu vaccination in the last week; have you had allergic reactions to anything? Then we were... Read More
In the continuing story of coronavirus, this week brings two stories about limitations. The first is that production of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in Europe is faltering, and from Monday supplies will be reduced for the next few weeks. There have been production problems, of the sort which happen in all manufacturing. It should... Read More
I had always imagined that death had a certainty to it. Taxes are a close second, but death is easier to diagnose. The problem comes when the cause must be written on the certificate. A heavy drinker who falls downstairs has an accidental death, but it was brought on by his habitual drinking. Someone who... Read More
Science and politics make awkward bedfellows. Science is more concerned with the truth, or ought to be; politics more concerned with expediency, survival and the avoidance of blame. For that reason, politics is closer to human nature. It is natural to simply hope for the best, to take precautions a little too late, and relax... Read More
The UK is under lockdown again. According to YouGov (4340 adults surveyed on 5th January) 85% of citizens approve. There may also be Tiers, of the four former sorts, and a possible fifth for very serious cases, but these have probably been superseded, and should be considered old news. Now it is just lockdown, and... Read More
This has been the year of counting the days. On Saturday morning people in England were preparing for a family Christmas. By 5 pm that afternoon they were phoning their regrets, in sadness and sometimes rage. All this may be good news. Opinions differ. The story so far is that the United Kingdom has not... Read More
I have excellent memories of Brussels, Belgium, and in particular of the Grande Place, a gem of European architecture, dating back to the 13th century, but in its surviving form mostly the creation of 17th Guilds flaunting their wealth in finely decorated grand trading houses. To stand in it is to savour the refinements of... Read More
With a few weeks to go till the end of 2020 it seems clear that, despite all the other things that have happened, the year will be remembered for the pandemic. Never have so many lives been interrupted for so long. Very roughly, 55 million people across the world die every year. Assume that the... Read More
After a brief summer, in which we dared to hope that we could eventually go to the pub without booking a table, and without choosing our food in advance, the darling buds of May have given way to the surly scowls of September, and we are down in the dumps again. This pandemic is testing... Read More
Uruguay is a small country on the eastern coast of South America between Argentina and Brazil. Mostly European in demographics, it was long considered the Switzerland of South America because, fearful of the usual local tendency towards dictatorship, it shared power in a plural executive, was early in separating Church and State, in giving votes... Read More
Last night the UK Prime Minister said that those who could not work from home, like those in construction and manufacturing should go to work today, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding public transport if possible. Primary schools may begin reopening in June, as may some shops, and some of the hospitality industry may reopen in... Read More
Europe is an ageing continent, with a total fertility rate of 1.6, well below the required 2.1 replacement level. The decline might be reversed, but the trend is downwards. These 747 million Europeans have a life expectancy of 79 years, and three-quarters of them live in urban settings. Of even more relevance in the time... Read More
There are many ways of making the coronavirus epidemic complicated. It is true that the Chinese account of what happened may be deficient, and that the numbers of deaths are probably underestimated. It is true that as each country received cases from China at somewhat different times and in different numbers it then went through... Read More
A few days ago, there was an updated report on critical care for coronavirus patients in hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. ICNARC report on COVID-19in critical care 17 April 2020. Sometimes a single table can be illustrative, and this one gives the characteristics of those who end up in critical care. Covid-19 patients... Read More
The predictions which come out of models of epidemics are often highly sensitive to minor changes in assumptions, so can rightly be accused of being wildly wrong when measured against the eventual outcome. “Improve the model” is a common plea. Of course, the most recent model any team publishes is already a presumed improvement on... Read More
It is disturbing that our Prime Minister is in intensive care. The leader of a nation has symbolic as well as instrumental value. It is reasonable for the public to assume that any Prime Minister has good security, good health care, good advice and plenty of material comforts. 10 Downing Street is not that comfortable,... Read More
It seems an age ago that I was singing the praises of Singapore, who had handled the coronavirus in a highly pragmatic way. In brief, citizens were asked to take their own temperatures and if they were above normal, isolate themselves and be tested for coronavirus. Frequent hand washing and the use of masks helped... Read More
It is a bright new day, so here are some thoughts on various subjects, most of which have the same theme: deciding how bad things are depends on your frame of reference. I had said that excess deaths was the key variable in understanding the coronavirus epidemic, and the policies being deployed against it. Once... Read More
Draco was a democratic legislator in 622 B.C. who moved Athenian law from an oral tradition known only to the elite, to a written code of law, which could be called upon by any citizen. A reformer. However, his laws were very harsh, applying the death penalty for minor offences, and his code was repealed... Read More
The best intelligence items are usually those at the very end of the test, where only one or two percent of test takers will reach them. Of course, for the very bright these will be too easy, but standard tests are designed for us common folk, not the genius fringe. Facing the coronavirus, it is... Read More
It is hard to be grateful that the coronavirus is now working its way through us, but it is certainly a vivid illustration of evolution at work. With no motivation beyond the joy of reproducing itself, it hops from one host to another, an equal-opportunity free rider. If it becomes too greedy in taking over... Read More
James Thompson
About James Thompson

James Thompson has lectured in Psychology at the University of London all his working life. His first publication and conference presentation was a critique of Jensen’s 1969 paper, with Arthur Jensen in the audience. He also taught Arthur how to use an English public telephone. Many topics have taken up his attention since then, but mostly he comments on intelligence research.