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The madness of men

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of men Isaac Newton ”

SIR ISAAC Newton was not a man to readily admit bafflement at anything in nature. But even he was utterly bamboozled by the derangement that afflicts human beings when entranced by the prospect of gain without effort. There is, it seems, a defect lodged deep in the substance of human nature which makes us curiously susceptible to the allure of magic beans. Make the beans big enough and of a sufficiently alluring appearance, and we will happily trade our precious reason to possess them.

Newton’s scathing verdict on humankind was prompted by an event now known as the South Sea Bubble. Although it is misleading to call it an event. History is a process rather than a series of discrete events. Nothing in history is actually disconnected until historians take their scalpel to it. Or wield their axe. The madness to which Newton referred is not so much a malady as a syndrome; one aspect of which is the propensity for avoiding the lessons of history by treating each learning opportunity as if it was a novel and unique occurrence. There is insanity as much in the devices by which we abstract our mistakes from the tapestry of time so as to deny responsibility for some prior dropped stitch as there is in the notion of easy riches.

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About iScot Magazine

November Edition 2016 issue Number 23 The one with Nicola and Saltire 2020 Vision A bumper 116 pages choc full of the best of Scottish writers today. Robbie Dinwoodie - Ben Thomson - The Legacy Alyn Smith MEP - A conference update - Focused David Bowman Interview - Les Huckfield - ex Labour MP "It's Labour for me... but not in Scotland" David James Hood - A perfect storm Jason Michael Mc Cann - The Alex Salmond Interview Will McLeod - How disasters look good ...on paper Wee Ginger Dug - They're all so pretty vacant Derek Bateman - Doing Middle Class Tom Morton - Sticky Aberdeen - the New Birmingham? Dr Steve McCabe - Fit to Lead? Tom Morton - Scotch and Spirit Jennifer Harper Feature - Simon Community Scotland Mary Edward - Short Story - The Gift Grouse Beater - Investigating Gorbal's boy Alan Pinkerton PI Rachel Gillon - Food for thought Zoe Weir - Glasgow Tobacco Barons Peter A Bell - Forget Darien, this is the bigee - The Madness of Men David McVey - Short Story - A Nation Decides Major Bloodnok - Agony Aunt - He knows, you know