Social Science

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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Siberia: Not (always) a freezing wilderness

Janet M. Hartley— Why write a history of Siberia? ONE REASON is to address popular preconceptions about Siberia. The first of these is the belief that Siberia is all ice and snow and that the temperature never rises above freezing. There is indeed a lot of ice and snow in the

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Message to Democrats: Please Focus on Jobs and Wages

Isabel Sawhill— The midterm elections are over, and the Democrats have taken back the House. They now need an agenda that signals to the electorate what they are for, not just what they are against. It’s unlikely that much will get done between now and 2020, but if the next

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The Prosperous Brain

Kelly Lambert, Ph.D.— Although scholars have debated the exact meaning of Thomas Jefferson’s reference to the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence, the phrase can be traced to seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke’s “life, liberty, and property” philosophical trinity and his declaration that the pursuit of happiness was our

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The Origin of Empathy

Susan Lanzoni— Is it possible to empathize with lines in an abstract design, with the expansive reach of a tree, the sweep of a bird’s flight, or the imposing rise of a range of mountains? Can we “feel into” forms and shapes? If today we know empathy as a way

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