Think, dammit, THINK!

'I know figures don't lie. Your job is to make them.'


“If we are uncritical, we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations; and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories.”

(Karl Popper)

in this Information Age, we are being bombarded with huge amounts of information all the time. The obvious result is that we stop looking too closely – this is almost a self-defence mechanism by our brain, as it stops us from going mad at the sheer volume of STUFF.

This is also extremely dangerous, as we are reading, digesting, and passing on a lot of information that is likely to be downright dodgy, we just don’t have the time or energy to check its provenance.

It is essential that we continue to disagree, debate and question as much as possible. In doing so we must understand what it is we don’t agree with, so that we are able to clearly articulate what it is that we don’t agree with when somebody challenges us or our views. It is not enough to just say you disagree, you must be able to come up with a better alternative or explanation.

“We engage in critical thinking, or benefit from the lessons of previous critical thought, all the time without being aware of it. If we took everything at face value, we wouldn’t get very far in life: we would be deceived, bewildered, manipulated, confused. Imagine if you believed everything you were told by everyone, everything that you saw and heard and read in every advert, in every politician’s claim.”

“When we are thinking critically, we are setting out actively to understand what is going on by using reasoning, evaluating evidence and thinking carefully about the process of thinking itself.”

(Tom Chatfield  #TalkCriticalThinking)

This blog has not been shy in voicing certain strong opinions, but that is all they are – opinions. I have always encouraged people to comment, whether for or against, and engage in spirited debate. Work pressure is preventing me from blogging as much as I used to, but I would welcome peoples’ comments and views on the energy debate, climate change, global warming, planning, and of course the law!

All I ask is that we stop uncritically accepting the massive amounts of nonsense that seem to constantly pour out of the websites of various government departments, and the plethora of sycophantic media outlets that disseminate their sh*t, forever polluting the minds of the uncritical reader.


“The trouble with having an open mind of course is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

(Terry Pratchett)

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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9 Responses to Think, dammit, THINK!

  1. nethercoat says:

    hi, did you ever take a look at

    its almost entirely about defending free speech and the corrosive folly of political correctness.

  2. Neil van Dokkum says:

    Thanks! I’ve just read a great article on Luther.

    • Ian Collins says:

      Dear Neil, I have a specific query about the neccessity for planning permission for a grid link for a wind farm near me. The line is a 20KV line and although it will become a part of the intermediate voltage network of ESB Networks when it is completed, it is being constructed at the developer’s expense and they are compensating the landowners who are allowing it’s passage by paying 2000 euros per pole. I think this is confirmation that it is not at present an ESB line and so is not covered by the acts which give an exemption of the neccessity of planning permission to the ESB for lines less than 38KV. Anybody got any knowlege of this subject I would be most greatful for any comments. In the original planning conditions the grid link was unspecified. PP was Co Cork 10/857 and the inspectors report is at ABP PL 88. 239767

      • Neil van Dokkum says:

        Thoughts anybody?

      • Neil van Dokkum says:

        Hi Ian
        A frequent reader of this blog, who wishes to remain anonymous, answers your query as follows:

        “Hi Neil,

        I see that you have posted a question regarding planning permission for a 20kV wind farm grid connection. This is defined in the Planning and Development Guidelines 2015 on page 21 where 6(1) defines exempted development as:
        “Subject to article 9, development of a class specified in column 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 shall be exempted development for the purposes of the Act, provided that such development complies with the conditions and limitations specified in column 2 of the said Part 1 opposite the mention of that class in the said column 1”.

        On Page 268 Article 6, Part 1, Exempted Development — General:
        “Class 27 – The carrying out by any electricity undertaking of development consisting of the construction of over-head transmission or distribution lines for conducting electricity at a voltage not exceeding a nominal value of 20kV.”

        In Interpretation 3.(3) on page 13 where “In these Regulations, except where the context otherwise requires”, an electricity undertaking is defined as meaning “an undertaker authorised to provide an electricity service”.

        Since a wind farm developer is not the DSO which is authorised to provide an electricity service, it would appear that planning permission is required for the 20kV grid connection.”

      • Ian Collins says:

        Thankyou to anonymous for your information, I am contacting Cork Co to see if there has been any contact between them and the developer. I am not sure if the development (the grid connection) is being viewed by the Council as exempted development and if it is I’ll be looking for advice as to how to proceed. In the meantime I intend to report it to the Council to see what they have to say.

      • Val Martin says:

        Ian, I am confused as to what is happening here. If cables are being exempted, it just a matter of a JR.

        I took a Judicial review of the exemption of the cables and won. They did it again in Yellow River. Daly -v- Kilronan.

        Its just a matter of taking the JR, the law is already made.

        Its an EIA project

  3. Nigel de Haas says:

    A timely reminder that effective and rational democracy is the consensus reached between dissenting views; if we fail to analyse, expound and defend our views, we will inevitably be bound by those of others. Views that may have evolved without analysis and debate.
    It is indeed increasingly difficult to sift the grain from the chaff in this modern world of blurred information boundaries. Print media intersperses “sponsored” pieces with investigative journalism, editorial impartiality is nuanced by advertising revenue, and more and more people voluntarily choose targeted news apps.
    But we should look into our own hearts too, before pointing the critical finger. Why are our lives so busy that we do not have the time for individual thought? How many hours a week to we mindlessly plonk ourselves in front of the television to watch meaningless drivel? How much of our day is spent within the self-imposed information silos of social media?
    So hats off to this blog for issuing this wake-up call to all of us, before, like lemmings, we throw ourselves from the cliff!

  4. Neil van Dokkum says:

    Thank you Nigel. I should look at my own time management in trying to discover why I don’t have time for the blog!

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