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    The World According to Scientists

    In Victorian England, one pastime among friends and family was to jot down your “Confessions”—answers to semi-serious questions of taste and principle. One day, in the spring of 1865, Karl Marx had a go. Several of his answers spotlight habits of the scientific mind. The quality you like best? Simplicity. The vice you hate most? Servility. […]

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    Why Colonizing the Galaxy Is the Highest Good

    When we work to reduce the risk of global catastrophe, we are doing good at a literally astronomic scale.Illustration by CSA Images / Printstock Collection Ten years ago, I dropped out of my graduate program in electrical engineering. I was in computational electromagnetics, modeling how radio waves propagate through the ground. I liked it, but […]

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    Why Doctors Should Start Taking Your Past Spiritual History

    Sharing what meaning you take from illness can enhance your treatment and sense of well-being.Illustration by Len Small A little over a decade ago, Farr Curlin, a physician and professor of medical humanities at Duke Divinity School, became curious about the spiritual lives of his colleagues. He already knew that patients’ religious beliefs and communities […]

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    What Do Blind People Actually See?

    To try to understand what it might be like to be blind, think about how it “looks” behind your head.Photograph by charnsitr / Shutterstock In 2004 Peter König made a special belt: one that always vibrated on the side of it facing north. Put on the belt and face north, and it would vibrate in […]

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    Will the March for Science Matter?

    The closer one looks, the more intractable the politics become.Photograph by Mihai Petre / Wikicommons Here’s a hypothesis worth testing: If anybody concerned with science was left on the fence about whether the April 22 March for Science was a worthwhile endeavor, a flurry of news in late March catalyzed them to action. Let’s look […]

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    Cancer’s Financial Cost Can Be Almost as Toxic to Patients as the Disease Itself

    Financial distress due to cancer treatment could count as another cancer mortality risk factor, alongside smoking, diet, and exercise.Photograph by John Piekos / Flickr Add a new entry to the list of factors that can exacerbate a cancer diagnosis: money. Paying for cancer treatment is expensive, and for many patients, the financial distress can be […]

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    Can Many-Worlds Theory Rescue Us From Boltzmann Brains?

    Boltzmann’s theory leads to a paradox, where the very scientific assumption that we can trust what we observe leads to the conclusion that we can’t trust what we observe.Image by Chaosophia218 / Tumblr Can you trust the world to be consistent? Scientists don’t have much choice. They need to assume that objective observations of the universe […]

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    What the Rat Brain Tells Us About Yours

    The evolution of animal models for neuroactive medicine.

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    Do Aliens Have Inalienable Rights?

    What ET teaches us about our moral obligations.

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    How Nostalgia Made America Great Again

    When the present looks bleak, we reach for a rose-tinted past.