Essays

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Essay/Work

Stupefied

How organisations enshrine collective stupidity and employees are rewarded for checking their brains at the office door

André Spicer

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Essay/Cultures & Languages

Street talk

People who can switch between street dialects and standard language might have the same cognitive advantage as bilinguals

Michael Erard

Essay/Beauty & Aesthetics

It is and it isn’t

Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ is not just a radical kind of art. It’s a philosophical dialetheia: a contradiction that is true

Graham Priest Damon Young

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Essay/Stories & Literature

Books for life

There is something deeply revealing about the books one truly loves in childhood and adolescence

Adam Gidwitz

Essay/Law & Justice

What kind of citizen was he?

Conventional wisdom sees Socrates as a martyr for free speech, but he accepted his death sentence for a different cause

Josiah Ober

Essay/Mood & Emotion

A theory of creepiness

A bear chasing you is simply scary but a guy with a big mouse’s head can give you the creeps. What’s the difference?

David Livingstone Smith

Essay/Religion

Religion without belief

Most Japanese reject religious belief while embracing multiple forms of ritual practice. Are they religious or secular?

Christopher Kavanagh

Essay/Physics

Taming the quantum spooks

Reconciling Einstein with quantum mechanics may require abandoning the notion that cause always precedes effect

Huw Price Ken Wharton

Essay/History of Technology

Getting things moving

The most important moments in invention are sometimes the imaginative leaps – even when they turn out to be dead-ends

Brian Clegg

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Essay/Internet & Communication

And their eyes glazed over

My college students are never entirely present in class, addicted to texts and tech. Is there any hope left for learning?

Joelle Renstrom

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Essay/Ethics

The case against pets

A morally just world would have no pets, no aquaria, no zoos. No fields of sheep, no barns of cows. That’s true animal rights

Gary L Francione Anna E Charlton

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Essay/Gender

Is motherhood gendered?

For a new generation of trans parents and their children, the meaning of motherhood is undergoing a thorough renovation

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

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Essay/Food & Drink

Hot stuff

Pepperheads love the hit of a habanero, the kick of a bhut jolokia. But what’s the allure of a fruit designed to repel?

Kendra Pierre-Louis

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Essay/Sleep & Dreams

Dreams and revelations

The world’s great religions and spiritual journeys emerged from dreams and visions. Neurochemistry tells us how

Patrick McNamara

Essay/Internet & Communication

The world wide cage

Technology promised to set us free. Instead it has trained us to withdraw from the world into distraction and dependency

Nicholas Carr

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Essay/Political Philosophy

Bruno the brave

For anyone who dares to voice dangerous ideas and risk imprisonment or exile, Giordano Bruno remains a hero

Stephanie Merritt

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Essay/Ethics

Execution at Happy Farm

Which world would be better: one in which all meat is grown in a lab or one which still contains humanely farmed animals?

Rhys Southan

Essay/Art

Why people collect art

Collectors drive the art world, but what drives art collectors? It’s less about aesthetics than self-identification

Erin Thompson

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Essay/Addiction

Ageing out of drugs

Most addicts just stop using in time, without needing costly treatment. Why do some people walk away while others can’t?

Stacey McKenna

Essay/Fertility, Pregnancy and Childbirth

The twin boom

The proportion of twins in the population has waxed and waned in human history. For the first time we understand why

Laura Spinney

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Essay/History

It never was golden

‘The good old days’ is a virulent falsehood that infects those whose defences have been weakened by fear and insecurity

Alan Jay Levinovitz

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Essay/Law & Justice

Prostitution is not sex work

Decriminalising the sex trade is touted as a means to empower women and rebrand a necessary service. This is utterly wrong

Kat Banyard

Essay/Social Psychology

Truth in stereotypes

Social scientists dismiss them, but rather than being universally inaccurate, stereotypes are often grounded in reality

Lee Jussim

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Essay/Psychiatry & Psychotherapy

Spiritual emergency

After decades of practising as a psychotherapist, I am convinced that our treatment of psychosis is thoroughly wrong-headed

James Carpenter

Essay/Physics

Must science be testable?

String wars among physicists have highlighted just how much science needs philosophy – and not just the amateur version

Massimo Pigliucci

Essay/Politics & Government

The English question

Little England may have undone Great Britain. Will a nation of dark fascism or one of green and pleasant lands emerge?

Paul Harris

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Essay/History

Bodies electric

We are not the first to think that the human being might be much improved with the judicious application of electricity

Iwan Rhys Morus

Essay/Biology

Microbes have no morals

First we learned to fear germs, then we learned to love our microbiome. But both sides get the biology basically wrong

Ed Yong

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Essay/Memoir

For the love of stuff

I am my things and my things are me. I don’t want to give them up: they are narrative prompts for the story of my life

Lee Randall

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Essay/Travel

Boldly go!

In thinking about faraway travel, the ability to assess risk falters. It's probably safer than your morning commute

Henry Wismayer