Who Gives Press Releases Their Power?

Newsflash — Press releases about medical studies may contain hype. That was the conclusion of a report published last week in the medical journal BMJ. Petroc Sumner, a professor at Cardiff University, compared 462 press releases on medical studies from leading United Kingdom universities in 2011 and found that 33 to 40 percent of the […]

Guest Post: What science can learn from religion

Sharel was twenty when she died from an overdose. Her funeral was held at the Holy Temple Christian Church on Althea Street in Providence, Rhode Island. The church tried to raise $5,000 for the expense, but only managed to raise $347. Althea Street is short, only three blocks long. It is poor. Boarded up buildings […]

Ira Glass is Not My Friend and Some Thoughts on Serial

Last year, I told a story for This American Life (TAL), my favorite radio show. My story was about being so lost in grief over my sister-in-law’s death from cancer that I mistook a pizza delivery guy for an undertaker. My error wasn’t as ridiculous as it seems. The pizza guy had the wrong house, […]

Thumbs Up! Don’t Shoot!

Like millions of other Americans, I’ve spent some time in the last week wondering whether the grand jury proceedings in the shooting death of Michael Brown were a perversion of justice from the get-go. I don’t claim to have had any great societal insights as a result, but I can claim a personal one—the kind of […]

Tesser Well

It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, […]

Both Our Houses

The congressional session that begins in the New Year, according to the incoming leaders of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, will do nothing to address anything. Although Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the presumptive majority leader of the Senate, and John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, did not make that promise explicitly, it is […]

Gotta Have Faith

I’ve been traveling a lot recently. I spent the month of August in China and Vienam, I went to Sweden in October, and of course I’ve been bouncing between my home in Mexico City and the good ol’ US of A. And you know what all this travel has gotten me thinking about? Institutions. I assume […]

Seeing Mammoths

Seeing a mammoth is not the same as looking over a zoo wall at a modern elephant, or even standing next to a live, gray, wrinkled wall of flesh with scant, coarse hairs. Watching the flexible, prehensile reach of an elephant’s trunk and the slow cross-wise chewing of hay, I’ve found it hard to see […]