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Stories and literature
Eros at play

Why the ancient erotic poems of Sappho and Wallada bint al-Mustakfi are far more stimulating than modern pornography

Jamie Mackay

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Gender and identity
Pink and blue tsunami

From tutus to trucks, parents are often struck by the gendered choices made by their children. Could these be ‘hardwired’?

Gina Rippon

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Information and communication
Reddit, with wigs and ink

The first newspapers contained not high-minded journalism but hundreds of readers’ letters exchanging news with one another

Rachael Scarborough King

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Economic history
The economics of bubbles

Market booms and busts might be irrational, but we can understand why they happen – and what to do to mitigate the damage

Brent Goldfarb & David A Kirsch

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The future
The end of us

Only since the Enlightenment have we been able to imagine humans going extinct. Is it a sign of our maturity as a species?

Thomas Moynihan

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Biography and memoir
Mistress of all trades

A campaigning journalist and an early feminist, Harriet Martineau humanised economic theory through Dickensian storytelling

Valerie R Sanders

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Food and drink
Homo gluttonous

Humans have evolved with little resistance to abundant, easy food. Will we gorge ourselves and our planet to death?

Louise Fabiani

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Evolution
Life is tough

Human life is fragile but tardigrades and other extremophiles show that life itself is in little danger of disappearing

David P Barash

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Cities
The first global city

High in the Andes, Potosí supplied the world with silver, and in return reaped goods and peoples from Burma to Baghdad

Kris Lane

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Family life
Against ‘natural’ parenting

We’re opportunistic, inventive and flexible animals, and there is no ‘natural’ or ‘right’ way to bring up our children

Olga Mecking

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Thinkers and theories
Impossible choices

Learning from his family, his animals and his work with tribal people, Gregory Bateson saw the creative potential of paradox

Tim Parks

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Religion
Zen terror

Master Nissho Inoue and his band of assassins teach some uncomfortable truths about terrorism, for those who will hear

Brian Victoria