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Essays

Fine writing on philosophy, psychology, science, history and the arts
The empty brain | Aeon
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Neuroscience

The empty brain

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

Robert Epstein

The play deficit | Aeon
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Childhood and adolescence

The play deficit

Children today are cossetted and pressured in equal measure. Without the freedom to play they will never grow up

Peter Gray

The obesity era | Aeon
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Biology

The obesity era

As the American people got fatter, so did marmosets, vervet monkeys and mice. The problem may be bigger than any of us

David Berreby

English is not normal | Aeon
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Language and linguistics

English is not normal

No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language

John McWhorter

Indifference is a power | Aeon
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Meaning and the good life

Indifference is a power

As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a way to wrest happiness from adversity

Lary Wallace

Night school | Aeon
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Consciousness and altered states

Night school

New evidence suggests that we can learn while we sleep, but do we really want to put our hours of rest to work?

Kenneth Miller

Fuck work | Aeon
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Work

Fuck work

Economists believe in full employment. Americans think that work builds character. But what if jobs aren’t working anymore?

James Livingston

The macho sperm myth | Aeon
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Human reproduction

The macho sperm myth

The idea that millions of sperm are on an Olympian race to reach the egg is yet another male fantasy of human reproduction

Robert D Martin

Exodus | Aeon
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Cosmology

Exodus

Elon Musk argues that we must put a million people on Mars if we are to ensure that humanity has a future

Ross Andersen

The meanings of life | Aeon
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Meaning and the good life

The meanings of life

Happiness is not the same as a sense of meaning. How do we go about finding a meaningful life, not just a happy one?

Roy F Baumeister

Gender is not a spectrum | Aeon
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Gender and identity

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

Childhood, disrupted | Aeon
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Childhood and adolescence

Childhood, disrupted

Adversity in childhood can create long-lasting scars, damaging our cells and our DNA, and making us sick as adults

Donna Jackson Nakazawa