Menu
Donate
SIGN IN

Pam Weintraub

Senior Editor, Aeon+Psyche

Pam is an editor and writer specialising in psychology, neuroscience and the sciences. She has previously worked as executive and features editor at Discover, where her acquisitions were widely anthologised and received numerous national awards; a consulting editor at Psychology Today; and in a range of roles at Omni magazine, from senior editor and editor-at-large to founding editor of Omni online. She is author of 16 books on medicine, psychology and lifestyle, including Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic, which won the American Medical Writers Association book award in 2009. She can be found on Twitter @pam3001.

Written by Pam Weintraub

Edited by Pam Weintraub

This riotous life | Aeon
Save

essay

Palaeontology

This riotous life

There’s no rhythm to mass extinctions, no pattern to evolutionary recovery. Life bursts forth, in cacophonous adaptation

Riley Black

The body is not a machine | Aeon
Save

essay

Medicine

The body is not a machine

Modern biomedicine sees the body as a closed mechanistic system. But illness shows us to be permeable, ecological beings

Nitin K Ahuja

The posthuman dog | Aeon
Save

essay

Animals and humans

The posthuman dog

If humans were to disappear from the face of the Earth, what might dogs become? And would they be better off without us?

Jessica Pierce

The search for alien tech | Aeon
Save

essay

Cosmology

The search for alien tech

There’s a new plan to find extraterrestrial civilisations by the way they live. But if we can see them, can they see us?

Corey S Powell

Enduring memory | Aeon
Save

essay

Biology

Enduring memory

How can animals whose brains have been drastically remodelled still recall their kin, their traumas and their skills?

Thomas R Verny

A theory of my own mind | Aeon
Save

essay

Cognition and intelligence

A theory of my own mind

Knowing the content of one’s own mind might seem straightforward but in fact it’s much more like mindreading other people

Stephen M Fleming

The food wars | Aeon
Save

essay

Food and drink

The food wars

Vitamins or whole foods; high-fat or low-fat; sugar or sweetener. Will we ever get a clear idea about what we should eat?

Amos Zeeberg

An idea with bite | Aeon
Save

essay

Genetics

An idea with bite

The ‘selfish gene’ persists for the reason all good scientific metaphors do: it remains a sharp tool for clear thinking

J Arvid Ågren

Apocalypse, please | Aeon
Save

essay

Pleasure and pain

Apocalypse, please

The COVID-19 pandemic, like other catastrophes before it, got some of us hooked on phobic energy and terror. Why?

Travis Alexander

The fog of grief | Aeon
Save

essay

Life stages

The fog of grief

The five stages of grief can’t begin to explain it: grief affects the body, brain and sense of self, and patience is the key

April Reese

The addiction trap | Aeon
Save

essay

Addiction

The addiction trap

Our inability to treat substance use disorders stems from a narrow-minded view that brains and genes are their real cause

Judith Grisel

Don’t farm bugs | Aeon
Save

essay

Bioethics

Don’t farm bugs

Insect farming bakes, boils and shreds animals by the trillion. It’s immoral, risky and won’t resolve the climate crisis

Jeff Sebo & Jason Schukraft



Recent Comments

Bookish fools

Pam Weintraub

Perhaps it is a sign, but in recent years my aim has been to discard books -to get rid of the clutter from the 1000s of books I own, and it has been wrenching and difficult. My dream is of a shelf with just a few print books at any one time -without all the paper, but I’m unable to get there. I am attached to my books, but not because they mark me as culturally evolved to the outside.

→ See comment

The sorrow of bees

Pam Weintraub

To set the record straight, the study of animal emotion is not that new, relatively speaking. Perhaps the preeminent modern pioneer in the animal emotion from a neuroscientific perspective is Jaak Panksepp, known broadly as the researcher who tickled rats and made them laugh.

Studying the emotional brain in a range of animal species since the 1960s, Panksepp has charted seven networks of emotion in the brain: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY. I spell them with CAPS here because that is what Panksepp does -so fundamental are they to functions across species, from people to cats to rats.

What is especially interesting about Panksepp’s work is that it has ...

READ MORE→ See comment

Murder she wrought

Pam Weintraub

Until neuroscience hands us the technology or capacity to squelch the reptiles in our brains with the cortex above, we will be a violent species, in part. Until we can overcome the fear from our limbic brains with logic from the cortex, we’ll react in kind. The territorial instinct has defined the human species from its emergence on Earth, and the constant wars, genocides, terrorist acts and other atrocities still raging around the globe, glaringly and without end are testament to that fact.

Do we have the capacity to end all wars? Possibly -at what cost? Might the cost be a police state, violent in its own right? And eliminating state violence or even community violence might not ...

READ MORE→ See comment

Fatal nurture: what a rare disorder says about ‘bad mothers’

Pam Weintraub

Many people consider the MSBP diagnosis completely discredited and bogus, a severe form of sexism -although medical crimes may exist, many critics say, not as conceptualized by this theory. I suggest considering an alternative: That the idea of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is not just overblown or rare, but the fabrication of a sexist world. I interviewed many of the top experts for an expose in Pyschology Today. It’s worth a read:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200709/munchausen-unusual-suspects

→ See comment

The neurofix

Pam Weintraub

At any age, full-blown dementia robs you of your former personhood and your identity as you have known it.

If you consider your identity to be the stream of consciousness of your life from beginning of memory to the end, then beyond the pale of memory, beyond the stream, you are something else -something not you. That entity may be alive and yet you -YOU, for all intents and purposes- are dead.

There is really no difference between this kind of dementia and death unless you are satisfied with a life outside yourself -perhaps the life of a slug. Would you fear the life of a slug more than death?

In a sense, dementia vs. death is truly a distinction without a difference...

READ MORE→ See comment

Korean Thanksgiving

Pam Weintraub

A generation ago, when many people lived into their seventies or eighties and then died, the level of help and care a parent required on an existential level was relatively small. Those elderly could largely care for themselves and they were just newly tapping into their retirement savings, and so able to pay for help. Moreover, the elderly of a generation ago -who were, by and large- younger at time of death, often were able to live at home. Thus, a child could defer from helping a parent and, no matter the moral issues or emotional hurt, not feel they were putting that parent at existential risk. A child could visit an 80-year-old person every weekend, and that eighty year-old would oth...

READ MORE→ See comment

How much does it matter whether God exists?

Pam Weintraub

I feel that I have greater knowledge right away about someone who grew up as a relatively secular Ashkenazi Jew from New York City -that is, a Jew whose ancestors lived in Northern, Western and Eastern Europe for centuries, then moved to New York City, where they retained identity but not great religiosity.

My recent trip to Israel showed me, on the other hand, that Jews have wide diversity -from Sephardic Jews with ancestors from Spain; Jews whose ancestors never left the area of the Judean Hills in Israel or the Middle East -the Mizrahi Jews. I met Jews with ancestors from India, and they looked Indian. Jews from Ethiopia who were black. Moroccan Jews… There are very orthodox Jew...

READ MORE→ See comment

Save the soil to save the Earth: A Q & A with Ronald Amundson

Pam Weintraub

Given what is available for us in any reasonable timeframe in terms of habitable planets, considering a human exodus from Earth as a viable plan B is absurd. Best to stop the warming and save the soil -life on Mars is bound to be unpleasant if not impossible, at the very least.

→ See comment

Are coders worth it?

Pam Weintraub

Coding is a form of math and logic, and it should be part of a mathematical curriculum. It could be that we all need to be literate in coding to navigate the new world. Not only because it is a funcitonal skill, but also because it trains us in logic and memory and detail, and focus -and these are cognitive skills of high value.

Coding is a skill of the future. It is our passport to deep understanding of the undercurrents of the new, data-driven world.

To suggest, however, that we should study this new, mathematical language as we studied the languages of antiquity more than a century ago mixes apples and oranges -it is almost a nonsense question. Were we studying Latin and ...

READ MORE→ See comment

Cracking the skull open

Pam Weintraub

One might argue that complete mental health is, in fact, a state of extreme insanity -and that one person’s craziness is another’s sublime balance. Clearly, some states are dysfunctional and sick: psychotic homicidal impulses; extreme bipolar swings of devastating depression and destructive mania; voices instructing one to harm oneself; the crippling pain of chronic, severe depression. These are states of sickness, not least because they cause the percipient so much pain and/or endanger others.

But other times, the border between health and illness is in the eye of the beholder: The wholesome, well-scrubbed, straight A student with the constant up mood can be flat and boring. The m...

READ MORE→ See comment

Suspended animation

Pam Weintraub

Unless this is a trick question, like: You’re immortal but you’re in pain, or… you’re immortal but you’re insane, of course… If I could live in health and vigor without worry of death, why wouldn’t I? I don’t think I would ever get tired of being alive or creative… it is a terrible punishment that at some point it will go dark and I won’t know what happens to the world.

→ See comment

Neurothriller

Pam Weintraub

There is something to be said for feelings and emotions accumulating viscerally, in an embodied kind of way apart from narrative. One feels that layering this alongside or on top of narrative would be the most powerful means -why would you need to forget the narrative? They are all means of immersion, but certainly, adding these elements only adds to the power and the fear. Though… I found Carrie, the Birds, Psycho, Alien, all of those, pretty terrifying -even when I say them as old films.... already dated at my viewing, they still managed to scare.

→ See comment