Essays

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Essay/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

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Essay/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

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Essay/Cultures & Languages

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

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Essay/Meaning & 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

Essay/Childhood & 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

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Essay/Work

Fuck work

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

James Livingston

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Essay/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

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Essay/Economics

Are coders worth it?

In today’s world, web developers have it all: money, perks, freedom, respect. But is there value in what we do?

James Somers

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Essay/Future of Technology

The golden quarter

Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?

Michael Hanlon

Essay/Childhood & 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

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

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Essay/Making

Chabuduo! Close enough …

Your balcony fell off? Chabuduo. Vaccines are overheated? Chabuduo. How China became the land of disastrous corner-cutting

James Palmer

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Essay/Cultures & Languages

Kept women

Mistresses are big business in China, where no official is a real man without his own ernai. What’s in it for the girls?

James Palmer

Essay/Logic

Beyond true and false

Buddhist philosophy is full of contradictions. Now modern logic is learning why that might be a good thing

Graham Priest

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Essay/Fairness & Equality

Poor teeth

If you have a mouthful of teeth shaped by a childhood in poverty, don’t go knocking on the door of American privilege

Sarah Smarsh

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Essay/Consciousness & Altered States

How the light gets out

Consciousness is the ‘hard problem’, the one that confounds science and philosophy. Has a new theory cracked it?

Michael Graziano

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Essay/Sleep & Dreams

Broken sleep

People once woke up halfway through the night to think, write or make love. What have we lost by sleeping straight through?

Karen Emslie

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Essay/Digital Culture

The new mind control

The internet has spawned subtle forms of influence that can flip elections and manipulate everything we say, think and do

Robert Epstein

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Essay/Digital Culture

Pornucopia

Critics say that porn degrades women, dulls sexual pleasure, and ruins authentic relationships – are they right?

Maria Konnikova

Essay/Meaning & 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

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Essay/Education

An inconvenient child

My six-year-old son was suspended as a danger to others. His crime? A disability you could find in any classroom

Michael Graziano

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Essay/Cultures & Languages

Master of many trades

Our age reveres the specialist but humans are natural polymaths, at our best when we turn our minds to many things

Robert Twigger

Essay/Cognition & Intelligence

One more time

Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

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Essay/Ethics

A theory of jerks

Are you surrounded by fools? Are you the only reasonable person around? Then maybe you’re the one with the jerkitude

Eric Schwitzgebel

Essay/Biology

Die, selfish gene, die

For decades, the selfish gene metaphor let us view evolution with new clarity. Is it now blinding us?

David Dobbs

Essay/Computing & Artificial Intelligence

Creative blocks

The very laws of physics imply that artificial intelligence must be possible. What’s holding us up?

David Deutsch

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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

Essay/Computing & Artificial Intelligence

Omens

When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?

Ross Andersen

Essay/Illness & Disease

The case against sugar

A potent toxin that alters hormones and metabolism, sugar sets the stage for epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes

Gary Taubes

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Essay/Film & Television

The reality show

Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense

Mike Jay