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‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’? Why we must put aside our assumptions about the Dublin rioters

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The riots can teach us a lot — but not if we simply blame them on fascists and mob madness. Crowd psychologists Stephen Reicher and Clifford Stott on what such events tell us about our society if we take the time to look

Far-right analyst says protests were being organised within an hour of attack

Stephen Reicher and Clifford Stott

The morning after his Booker Prize victory, Paul Lynch was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Given the parallels between his tale of an Ireland descending into totalitarianism and the Dublin riots days earlier, he was asked if he had any answers to why the disturbances happened and what could be done about them. He replied with a ringing negative. Fiction, the author said, is more about asking the right questions than providing answers.

If it makes sense for purveyors of fiction to focus on questions before giving answers, it makes even more sense for those dealing in fact. Sadly, though, there are strong pressures against this — especially in the aftermath of a riot.

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