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Non-cognitive skills like perseverance and hard work might be more accurate predictors of success than literacy and numeracy quizzes. Shutterstock

School should be about more than just measuring intelligence

Who do you think would do better at school or in the workplace: someone who is smart, but lazy, or someone who is not naturally brilliant but will keep working at a problem until they get it right? Intuitively…
It is hard to police ‘soft targets’ for violent, lone wolf actors without becoming an overpoliced state. AAP/Dean Lewins

Q&A: what we can learn from the Sydney siege, and what next

Sydney is slowly returning to normal after police brought an end to a 16-hour siege in a Martin Place cafe in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The perpetrator, Man Haron Monis, and two hostages, Katrina…
ASIO and Australia’s other intelligence agencies need strong oversight to avoid the type of behaviour that went unchecked in the US after 9/11. AAP/Alan Porritt

Only in America? Australia needs safeguards against torture too

Earlier this week, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the CIA’s post-9/11 program of detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists during the Bush administration…
Secrets out? EPA/Dennis Brack

Senate CIA torture report release: expert reaction

The US Senate has released the executive summary of a long-withheld report on harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the post-9/11 era. Previously undisclosed techniques have been revealed and…
Speaking to you from an undisclosed location. Chris Goldberg via Flickr

We need to fix the way we talk about national intelligence

In the last few years, the list of sensitive government information made public as a result of unauthorised disclosures has increased exponentially. But who really benefits from these leaks? While they…
Attorney-General George Brandis has introduced laws that cast a blanket of secrecy over the use and potential abuse of sweeping national security powers. AAP/Lukas Coch

National security gags on media force us to trust state will do no wrong

It has been said that the line between good investigative reporting and inappropriate journalistic prying is never clearly drawn. Journalists usually complain long and hard when governments intervene to…
Citing ‘the national interest’ enables Julie Bishop and her government colleagues simply to assert the need for everything from tougher security laws to supplying arms to Iraqi rebels. AAP/Lukas Coch

‘National interest’ figleaf avoids debate on wars and terror laws

“There is no such thing as the national interest,” I tell my first-year Australian foreign policy students. This tends to stop them in their tracks. After all, if there is no such thing as the national…
There’s no one universal ‘intelligence gene’ but many thousands each contributing a small increment – and here are three. Andrew Huff/Flickr (cropped)

Intelligence inheritance – three genes that add to your IQ score

Intelligence, cognitive ability or cognitive performance is usually measured by a battery of tests that aim to quantify skills such as memory and analytical ability. There is loads of variation between…
Journalists face long jail terms for reporting information relating to ‘special intelligence operations’, as declared by ASIO, under the government’s proposed reforms. AAP/Lukas Coch

National security bills compound existing threats to media freedom

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will publish its report on the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 (Cth) sometime during this sitting of parliament…
You can do better. Answer sheet via Wichy/Shutterstock

Ignore the IQ test: your level of intelligence is not fixed for life

We’re getting more stupid. That’s one point made in a recent article in the New Scientist, reporting on a gradual decline in IQs in developed countries such as the UK, Australia and the Netherlands. Such…
Intelligence agencies want greater access to metadata, but security wishlists must be tempered by the public interest in privacy and a balance between state power and citizens' rights. AAP/Lukas Coch

What is the meaning and what is the use of ‘metadata retention’?

Privacy and individuals’ ability to remain anonymous are important protections against persecution, bullying, intimidation and retaliation. These can be perpetrated by other people, private businesses…
The importance of public awareness of national security changes at the legislative stage is crucial as, once in force, these schemes are often shrouded in secrecy. AAP/Lukas Coch

National security bill gives ASIO more powers and a tighter gag

The Abbott government has unveiled the first in what is expected to be a suite of reforms aimed at strengthening Australia’s national security. The bill introduced into the Senate yesterday by attorney-general…
Smarter chimpanzees owe much of their extra intelligence to genes. Gemma Stiles/Flickr

Chimpanzee intelligence has a genetic basis

Not all chimpanzees are created equal. Not only are some more intelligent than others, but about half of this variation is…
The role of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has long been subject to political debate and controversy. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Persons of Interest revives Cold War politics and the ASIO debate

The screening of the documentary series Persons of Interest on SBS, in which former targets of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) surveillance examine their files, has prompted some…
Who’s viewing your metadata? Adam Fagen

Data surveillance is necessary, but we must have transparency

The latest intelligence documents published by The Guardian tell us that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is harvesting up to 200 million text messages a day under the DISHFIRE programme, and that…
Recent revelations of Australia’s intelligence practices have brought oversight issues into sharp focus. What mechanisms are there to hold these agencies to account? AAP/Dan Peled

Intelligence oversight and accountability: who watches the watchers?

The recent revelations of alleged telephone interception of Indonesian politicians, espionage in East Timor and raids in Canberra have raised more questions than they have answered about Australia’s intelligence…
Tony Abbott argues his first duty is to advance the national interest, without telling us why acting in our own interests is always right or even permissible. AAP/Daniel Munoz

The spying game: what a 15th-century Irish warlord can teach today’s politicians

Irish philosopher Richard Kearney visited Melbourne last year and, being the fine raconteur he is, told a great tale from his nation’s past. In 1492, Black James, nephew of the Earl of Ormond, and a group…

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