Essays

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Essay/Education

In praise of Dewey

He knew how to protect democracy – not by rote and rules but by growing independent-minded kids. Let us not forget it

Nicholas Tampio

Essay/Cultures & Languages

Euphemise this

Euphemisms are like underwear: best changed frequently. What work are they doing in our language and why do they expire?

John McWhorter

Essay/Values & Beliefs

Beyond anger

Anger is the emotion that has come to saturate our politics and culture. Philosophy can help us out of this dark vortex

Martha C Nussbaum

Essay/Self-Improvement

Don’t think too positive

Fantasies about the future have a troubling effect on achieving actual goals. If positive thinking doesn’t work, what does?

Gabriele Oettingen

Essay/Death

Nadia’s story

It is a decision that no parent should have to make: should we let our very sick baby die before she was born?

Ana Todorović

Essay/History of Science

Spot the WEIRDo

Too much research is done on Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic students. Can science widen its base?

Robert Colvile

Essay/History

What Mortimer did

A diplomat in British India blundered a border. The consequences continue to shape world politics

Rafia Zakaria

Essay/Travel

Right on track

If there is a greater thrill of travelling than the discovery of unfamiliar places, for me it’s getting there by train

Margarita Gokun Silver

Essay/Data & Information

Datagasm

Ever-faster feedback loops and micro-targeted digital porn are pushing human sexuality into some seriously weird places

Mark Hay

Essay/Mood & Emotion

Only the lonely

Loneliness is hell: debilitating yet formative. Can we avoid the pains of loneliness yet enjoy the pleasures of solitude?

Cody Delistraty

Essay/Religion

Against Muslim unity

Even the pilgrimage to Mecca exposes the myth of a united Islam and the formative power of the wider world

Faisal Devji

Essay/Sleep & Dreams

Falling for sleep

When wakefulness is seen as the main event, no wonder so many have trouble sleeping. Can we rekindle the joy of slumber?

Rubin Naiman

Essay/Neurodiversity

The inheritance of crime

Eugenic ideas about criminal genes have been repudiated for decades, but a new biological approach to crime is emerging

Douglas Starr

Essay/Social Psychology

Metaknowledge

Crowds aren’t as smart as we thought, since some people know more than others. A simple trick can find the ones you want

George Musser

Essay/Politics & Government

Everyone was a liberal

On the Left, ‘neoliberal’ is an epithet but, not long ago, everyone wanted to be liberal. Will anyone claim liberalism?

Lawrence Glickman

Essay/War & Conflict

War, on drugs

Killing people is hard and horrible. No wonder that warriors, from berserkers to jihadis, need drugs to get in the mood

Peter Frankopan

Essay/History

Slavery as free trade

The 18th-century thinkers behind laissez-faire economics saw slavery as a great example of global free trade

Blake Smith

Essay/Gender & Sexuality

Gender is not a spectrum

The idea that ‘gender is a spectrum’ is supposed to set us free. But it is both illogical and politically troubling

Rebecca Reilly-Cooper

Essay/Gender & Sexuality

The weaponised loser

Mass shootings have one thing in common: toxic masculinity. Where does it come from and what can be done to stop it?

Stephen Asma

Essay/History

The nature of Britain

A group of gentlemen antiquaries wanted to unite Britain. They turned to natural history, archaeology and linguistics

Elizabeth Yale

Essay/History

Six centuries of secularism

When the first ‘how-to’ books began to explain the way the world worked, they paved the way for science and secularism

William Eamon

Essay/Gender & Sexuality

A handy history

Condemned, celebrated, shunned: masturbation has long been an uncomfortable fact of life. Why?

Barry Reay

Essay/Self-Improvement

Don’t beat yourself up

Learning to be kind to yourself when you (inevitably) make mistakes could have a remarkable effect on your happiness

Mark Leary

Essay/Data & Information

‘Big data is people!’

The sum of our clickstreams is not an objective measure of who we are, but a personal portrait of our hopes and desires

Rebecca Lemov

Essay/History of Science

Hazard lines

The Fukushima disaster shows why the line between high and low risk is individual. Can we learn to manage our own safety?

Timothy Jorgensen

Essay/History

Medieval graffiti

Graffiti on the walls of Europe’s old churches reveals the real Middle Ages – a world far removed from knights and damsels

Matthew Champion

Essay/Cognition & Intelligence

Getting smarter

Brain-training games won’t boost your IQ, but a host of strategies can improve your cognitive abilities one piece at a time

Jeffrey M Zacks

Essay/Travel

The parlance of pilots

High above London, Tokyo and Cairo, the language of the cockpit is technical, obscure, geeky – and irresistibly romantic

Mark Vanhoenacker

Essay/Education

Schooled in nature

There’s a way to teach children without colonising their minds: the lifelong way of the indigenous people of Mexico

Jay Griffiths

Essay/Art

Moments of depth

Stuart Franklin has photographed conflict, nature and people. He discusses what makes a memorable image

Nigel Warburton Stuart Franklin