IN today’s New York Times, Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, examines the psychology of the blame game, whether it be in the Middle East or Northern Ireland. He notes that “people on one side claim that they are merely responding to provocation and dismiss the other side’s identical claim as disingenuous spin. But research suggests that these claims reflect genuinely different perceptions of the same bloody conversation”. He goes on to point out that while proportionate retaliation is perhaps understandable in conflict, hitting back too hard just isn’t fair. Nor is one side likely to be able to see their actions from any position other than their own narrow perspective.