Social Science

Exploring the Bystander Effect

Joel E. Dimsdale— The very public murder of young Kitty Genovese in New York City motivated the next social psychology exploration on the nature of malice. On the night of March 13, 1964, Genovese left work and was walking on a street in Kew Gardens, Queens, when she was chased

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Remembering the 1967 Six-Day War

Guy Laron— Are wars the result of accidents, compounded by misassessments, misunderstandings, and miscalculations? If this is true, there is no one to blame; according to this view, wars simply happen. But perhaps wars are born out of meticulous and willful planning by individuals and institutions that might benefit from war. If

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Stage Fright, Shyness, and Speaking to the Crowd

Joe Moran— I have been shy for as long as I can remember. For half of my life it just seemed an inconvenience, something to live with rather than be curious about. I became interested in shyness as a subject—one that might repay careful reflection—when I began to find my

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The Value of Data in Governance

Jennifer Bachner— Data have been collected and analyzed for millennia, but never before have these processes been so ubiquitous. Data journalism, with its focus on eye-catching visualizations and infographics, is transforming an industry from mere collection of information to effective presentation. Businesses rigorously analyze consumers’ browsing and purchasing histories to

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Resisting the Narrative of Fear against Refugees

M. Jan Holton— Fear is a daily course in the life of refugees fleeing from war. Consider for example the citizens of Aleppo facing bombings, torture, starvation, and death. The title of a New York Times article about the final days before the fall of Aleppo says it all “We

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Knowing Through the Body

Guy Claxton— What are often called “higher mental processes” actually sit atop a whole lot of emotional and visceral goings-on. That is not a nuisance or a design fault; it is a deep part of our evolved nature as intelligent beings. To recap: at the core of our being there

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The Dilemma of the Sharing Economy

Carlo Ratti and Richard Sennett— In 1899, the American sociologist Thorsten Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. The phrase was double-edged: Veblen was critical of the wealthy flaunting their wealth, but he recognized that more ordinary people used goods and services

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Defining the Bigot

Stephen Eric Bronner— Understanding the bigot calls for a phenomenological sketch that explains why prejudice appeals to him, how he chooses his targets, and what impulses are common to his worldview. Quick dabs are necessary to shade his frustrations, brushstrokes highlight his way of thinking about the world, bold lines

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To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

Sasha Handley— Large swathes of the modern industrialized world are in the grip of a sleep-deprivation crisis. So say Jonathan Crary and Ariana Huffington, who represent just two voices in a chorus of recent critical commentaries highlighting the corrosive effects of our globalized 24/7 culture on sleep’s duration and quality.

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The Economic Implications of Citizenship

Andreas Fahrmeir— U.S. citizenship has emerged as an issue several times during this year’s presidential campaign. There were debates on whether birthright citizenship is (and should be) protected by the constitution, and concerning the relationship between birth in the U.S. and descent from a U.S. citizen in determining whether individuals

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