The Greatest Athlete in the World

On Wednesday, at 3:25 Pacific Standard Time, two scruffy, skinny men embraced atop Yosemite’s El Capitan. To the casual observer, just a couple dudes in a national park trying to get off the mountain before sunset. Yet, these men had accomplished something so amazing that the sitting US president would call and congratulate them. So difficult […]

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 […]