Assisted dying: an unnecessary evil

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are two practices that are growing in popularity worldwide, with the Netherlands having seen a recent surge in the demand for euthanasia, as reported in The Guardian last month. Although euthanasia and assisted suicide are now legal in only a small number of countries, debate is ongoing in many countries, and…

Pressures to be the perfect mother

Science of life   Motherhood should be a very special time filled with joy and love but many new mothers can labour under such a burden of expectations and pressure to perform to certain standards that they end up feeling bad about perceived underperformance or failure. This phenomenon is very marked in America and is…

Failure is a powerful motivator

We all make mistakes and we all experience failure. Failure is a painful experience and the conventional psychological advice is that we should not dwell on failure and we should try not to feel bad. However, new research just published by Noelle Nelson and others in the Journal of Behavioural Decision Making found that, when…

Irish among world’s lowest breastfeeding rates

Science of Life   Prof. William Reville Human beings are members of a large group of animals known as mammals and all female mammals have mammary glands (breasts) that produce milk for feeding the young. This natural method of breastfeeding is scientifically well established as the optimal form of nutrition for babies and is enthusiastically…

Christianity gave rise to modern science

We often hear that Europe is now in a ‘post-Christian era’ and it is fashionable to attribute Western progress from the Enlightenment onwards to overcoming religious barriers to progress. However, much historical research paints a different picture. Most recently,  American sociologist Rodney Stark published a number of books, arguing convincingly that Christianity was directly responsible…

Extreme positivity can be quite harmful

Science of Life Positivity, having a positive and optimistic attitude towards life, has long been considered to be a very good thing and is widely recommended in popular psychology. Innumerable books have been published over the past several decades promoting the value of positivity and positive self-esteem, eg. the classic The Power of Positive Thinking…

Ethical issues around animal organ transplants

Using organ transplants to replace failing human organs and tissues saves and improves the quality of many lives every year. Up until now suitable organs for transplantation have been available only from human donors, and donor organs are in very short supply. The number of people currently waiting for transplants significantly exceeds the supply of…

How to find meaning in life

What’s the most important thing in life? Happiness,right? Wrong. The most important thing in your life is meaning. Once you find meaning, happiness will follow. Emily Esfahani Smith has just written a book called The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters (Crown, January 2017) explaining the importance of meaning and how to find…