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Essay/
Subcultures
The big empty

How an impossibly flat expanse of absofreakinglutely nothing inspires creativity and transformation at Burning Man

Graham St John

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Future of Technology
Sim ethics

Say you could make a thousand digital replicas of yourself – should you? What happens when you want to get rid of them?

Philip Ball

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History
The big squeeze

Sicily’s mafia sprang from the growing global market for lemons – a tale with sour parallels for consumers today

Ola Olsson

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Music
Musical pleasures

We know music is pleasurable, the question is why? Many answers have been proposed: perhaps none are quite right

Roger Mathew Grant

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Fertility, Pregnancy & Childbirth
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

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Neurodiversity
Autism from the inside

Too many depictions of autistic people rely on tired clichés. The neurotypical world needs to take note of our own voices

Katherine May

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Death
Against mourning

It takes a lifetime of preparation to grieve as the Stoics did – without weeping and wailing, but with a heart full of love

Brian D Earp

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Education
A wild muddle

The ethical formation of citizens was once at the heart of the US elite college. Has this moral purpose gone altogether?

Chad Wellmon

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Meaning & the Good Life
Hume the humane

Hume believed we were nothing more or less than human: that’s why he’s the amiable, modest, generous philosopher we need now

Julian Baggini

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Values & Beliefs
The unreality of luck

Optimists believe in good luck, pessimists in bad. But if it’s all a matter of perspective, does luck even exist?

Steven Hales

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Fairness & Equality
The respect deficit

Economic inequality is an urgent problem. Deeper still is our loss of mutual respect, the foundation of a fair society

Richard V Reeves

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Stories & Literature
Ghosts on the shore

In Japan, ghost stories are not to be scoffed at, but provide deep insights into the fuzzy boundary between life and death

Christopher Harding

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Education
Look up from your screen

Children learn best when their bodies are engaged in the living world. We must resist the ideology of screen-based learning

Nicholas Tampio

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Cosmology
How cosmic is the cosmos?

Ever since Heisenberg and Tagore, physicists have flirted with Eastern philosophy. Is there anything in the romance?

Zeeya Merali

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Future of Technology
The blitzscaling illusion

All the great inventions took painstaking, risky, indirect routes to fruition. Has Silicon Valley really escaped history?

Edward Tenner

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Neuroscience
The theory of mind myth

Even experts can’t predict violence or suicide. Surely we’re kidding ourselves that we can see inside the minds of others

Robert Burton

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Consciousness & Altered States
Caves all the way down

Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?

Jules Evans

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Love & Friendship
Love your frenemy

Envy is the dark side of love, but love is the luminous side of envy. Is there a way to harness envy wisely, for growth?

Sara Protasi

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Technology & the Self
The quantified heart

Artificial intelligence promises ever more control over the highs and lows of our emotions. Uneasy? Perhaps you should be

Polina Aronson & Judith Duportail

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Human Rights
Speaking on behalf of …

In the tapestry of diverse social groups, the loudest and most extreme get heard. To whom should we actually listen?

Holly Lawford-Smith

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Meaning & the Good Life
On coincidence

Lightning can strike twice and people do call just when you’re thinking of them – but are such coincidences meaningful?

Cody Delistraty