Essays

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Essay/Work

The future is emotional

Human jobs in the future will be the ones that require emotional labour: currently undervalued and underpaid but invaluable

Livia Gershon

Essay/Quantum Theory

Quantum common sense

Despite its confounding reputation, quantum mechanics both guides and helps explain human intuition

Philip Ball

Essay/Cognition & Intelligence

How totalism works

The brainwashing methods of isolation, engulfment and fear can lead anyone to a cult. I should know – I was in one

Alexandra Stein

Essay/Politics & Government

The bloodstained leveller

Throughout history, plagues and wars have left greater equality in their wake. Can we get there again without violence?

Walter Scheidel

Essay/Gender & Sexuality

The orgasm cure

What if we could expand ecstasy, reduce stress and lift depression, all by delaying and extending orgasm?

Peter von Ziegesar

Essay/Cognition & Intelligence

Had a good think lately?

Not busy-work, ticking off to-do lists or keeping-up-with-stuff. Just sitting. And thinking. Is it so hard?

André Spicer

Essay/Computing & Artificial Intelligence

fAIth

The most avid believers in artificial intelligence are aggressively secular – yet their language is eerily religious. Why?

Beth Singler

Essay/Bioethics

Which lives matter most?

Thinking about children who are not yet born confronts us with the question of our ethical obligations to future people

Dominic Wilkinson & Keyur Doolabh

Essay/Anthropology

The scalp from Sand Creek

Even after museums return human remains pillaged from a massacre in 1864, can repatriation heal the wounds of history?

Chip Colwell

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Essay/Subcultures

What is a cult?

Cults are exploitative, weird groups with strange beliefs and practices, right? So what about regular religions then?

Tara Isabella Burton

Essay/Social Psychology

The crisis of expertise

Experts are either derided or held up as all-seeing gurus. Time to reboot the relationship between expertise and democracy

Tom Nichols

Essay/Technology & the Self

Natural, shmatural

Mother Nature might be lovely, but moral she is not. She doesn’t love us or want what’s best for us

Molly Hodgdon

Essay/Meaning & the Good Life

End-times for humanity

Humanity is more technologically powerful than ever before, and yet we feel ourselves to be increasingly fragile. Why?

Claire Colebrook

Essay/Political Philosophy

Theory from the ruins

The Frankfurt school argued that reason is dangerous, mass culture deadening, and the Enlightenment a disaster. Were they right?

Stuart Walton

Essay/Personality

First impressions count

A judgment of competence is made in a tenth of a second on the basis of facial features. Thus political decisions are made

Alexander Todorov

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Essay/History

Why the Tudors still rule

The Tudors are always good box office, but their melodramatic lives distract from a much deeper legacy of civic nationhood

Anna Whitelock

Essay/Politics & Government

American dreaming 3.0

Embrace dreams as a counter to the naive realism of politics today, and they could become a potent democratic force

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

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Essay/Stories & Literature

The truth about tarot

Whether divining ancient wisdoms or elevating the art of cold reading, tarot is a form of therapy, much like psychoanalysis

James McConnachie

Essay/Epidemiology

Who names diseases?

Swine Flu, Naples Soldier, Ebola. Disease names express fear, create stigma and distract attention. Can they be improved?

Laura Spinney

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Essay/History

Resist or collaborate?

The Nazis have occupied France. It’s easy to condemn the collaborators. But be honest: what would you really do?

Robert Gildea

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Essay/Consciousness & Altered States

The mathematics of mind-time

The special trick of consciousness is being able to project action and time into a range of possible futures

Karl Friston

Essay/Stories & Literature

Sands of time

The North Sea is rich in signs of what made the modern world. It's also a monument to what awaits us in the Anthropocene

David Farrier

Essay/Politics & Government

Democracy needs politeness

Autocrats shouted, cursed, and bullied, while American revolutionaries used politeness as a tool of radical politics

Steven Bullock

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Essay/Economics

Platonically irrational

How much did Plato know about behavioural economics and cognitive biases? Pretty much everything, it turns out

Nick Romeo

Essay/Art

Has art ended again?

Ever since Hegel, artists and critics alike have been claiming that art is finished. But what could that actually mean?

Owen Hulatt

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Essay/Economics

What is human capital?

Human capital theory was invented as an ideological weapon in the Cold War. Now it is helping to Uberise the world of work

Peter Fleming

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Essay/Internet & Communication

What’s so new about news?

The interesting thing about news has never been its truth or falsehood but how it explodes our sense of onrushing time

Arthur Asseraf

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Essay/Sports & Games

Rules of ascent

For mountaineers, it’s not enough to get to the top – it must be done a certain way. But why is the harder way better?

Paul Sagar

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Essay/History of Science

The cosmology of Poe

Drawing on intuition, Edgar Allan Poe offered some remarkably prescient ideas about the universe in his poem 'Eureka'

Paul Halpern

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Essay/Cognition & Intelligence

Our world outsmarts us

Social problems are fantastically complex, while human minds are severely under-engineered. Is democracy doomed?

Robert Burton