The Placebo Test

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to a number of groups about the power of belief in medicine as a part of promoting my book, Suggestible You. It’s been a fascinating process and I’ve loved hearing about people’s individual experience with placebos, self-healing and alternative medicine. But I often asked a simple question: what […]

In Defense of the Antivaxxer

I am a man of science. Okay, perhaps not of science, but certainly near it. I’m science adjacent. But regardless, I consider myself to be bound, in the end, by logic and facts. As such, I like to think that I eschew my beliefs for what the facts tell me. As a very young man, I was […]

Motherhood Week: Making Friends With Mister P.

My eight-year-old daughter is a fourth-generation perfectionist. In my family, the trait is matrilineal, so I know from firsthand experience that it has a few advantages. My daughter is likely to pay her bills on time and use semicolons correctly. She will not be intimidated by details. She will have a certain baseline competence that will make her […]

Tropical Science

A few months ago I found myself south of the border working on a story for Scientific American about the glories of really small brains. When I say south of the border, I mean south of the Mexican border and when I say small brains I mean really really small brains. Like those of a […]

On Competence

As human civilization becomes ever more technologically complex, the average competence of each person declines. When a society operates using a suite of technologies that a single adult can learn in his or her lifetime—building a house from scratch, farming, spinning cotton, making medicines, having babies, hunting, fishing, singing and dancing—then it is possible to […]

The Sock Barometer

    I’ve been losing socks lately. One at a time. I correlate this with my state of life and work: picking up and dropping off kids, scheduling plane flights and cross-country drives, article deadlines, a final book manuscript due tomorrow, a blog post tonight. This week, I’m teaching 15 high school classes on the writing process, why we […]

Dial M for Medicine

One evening last week, after digesting about three times the recommended daily allowance of political news and making myself nauseous with anxiety about the state of the world, I resorted to a familiar remedy. My husband found me in the half-lit bedroom, staring at a flickering iPad. I looked up and shrugged. “Icelandic crime drama,” […]

Conversation: Mike Lemonick & the Perpetual Now

I’ve known Mike Lemonick for several thousand years, ever since he assigned me to write a news story.  And I was then, as I still am, congenitally unable to write news stories.  All I remember is that I blew the news story and Mike had to completely rewrite it. I don’t remember the story, I […]