Social Science

Espionage and the I Ching

Michael Harrington— The study of espionage has a long history in China. The classic known as The Art of War, dating from a period of strife between the states of pre-imperial China, contains an entire chapter devoted to the use of spies. One of the overall themes of this short

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How Many Trails of Tears Were There?

Jeffrey Ostler— When Donald Trump recently tweeted that he looked forward to seeing Elizabeth Warren “on the trail,” everyone knew he was mocking Warren’s claim to Cherokee ancestry by making a joke out of the Cherokee Trail of Tears—the 1838-39 forced march of Cherokees from their homes in Georgia to

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What happened after the Crusades?

Christopher Tyerman— We all know about the Crusades, don’t we? They were wars fought by western European Christians against Muslim control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land of Palestine. They began in 1095, when Pope Urban II summoned the knights of Christendom to undertake a war that would earn its

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Ep. 74 – The Importance of Learning Multiple Languages

A look at how we acquire language and the importance of learning more than one language at any age. Subscribe:Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Soundcloud

On Noses

Noelle Gallagher— By the word Nose, throughout all this long chapter of noses, and in every other part of my work, where the word Nose occurs, I declare, by that word I mean a Nose, and nothing more, or less. So claims the eccentric hero of Laurence Sterne’s wildly popular

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An Ending: India’s Railway Children

Jonah Steinberg— Nobody was tending to the body, which was arrayed on the tracks in at least three recently-separated pieces, its vessels, sinews, and bones protruding, trailing everywhere. The legs were torn off—the severed femurs sticking jaggedly out—and with them, the garments, so that the victim lay naked and exposed.

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Can Human Beings Understand the Economy?

Pascal Boyer— It is in the nature of human beings that they create societies. Philosophers have known and said that much for millennia. These days, scientists can paint a detailed picture of how evolution by natural selection made us social animals, providing us with those capacities and preferences that makes

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She Didn’t Start It: Jane Ellen Panton, a Victorian Marie Kondo

Sarah Bilston— Marie Kondo seems to be everywhere these days. Home-dwellers across the planet debate whether the objects in their home “spark joy” and throw out those that don’t — after thanking them for their service first, as per a key KonMari™ precept. Kondo’s website proudly asserts “She started it,”

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Why Multilingualism Matters – A Q&A With Marek Kohn

In a world that has global English and translation technology, it’s easy to assume that the need to use more than one language is diminishing— but it is more important than ever, argues science writer Marek Kohn. His new book exploring bilingualism and plural language use is Four Words For Friend: Why

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Understanding Empathy

Susan Lanzoni— “Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?” asked the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers in 1998, considering the case of Otto, a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Otto always carried with him a simple spiral notebook as a memory aid, in which

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