• The Dark Side

    The darkness is coming after the light. That’s what life during this pandemic feels like. Ultimately it will be science that will quench the virus and restore the light. That’s what science has always done—shown the way out of confusion and despair, illuminated nature, within and without us. This issue follows the light of science […]

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    The Dark Side of Smart

    Intelligence is associated with coming up with more convincing bullshit and with being a better liar, but not associated with a better ability to recognize one’s own bias.Photograph by ArTono / Shutterstock Manipulative communication surrounds us. With misinformation and disinformation about the pandemic, “cheap” and “deep” fakes of elected officials, and targeted ads and emotionally […]

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    Believing in Monsters: David Livingstone Smith on the Subhuman

    The Nazis called Jews rats and lice. White plantation owners called their Black slaves soulless animals. Pundits in Myanmar call Rohingya Muslims beasts, dogs, and maggots. Dehumanizing talk abounds in racist rhetoric worldwide. What do people believe, typically, when they speak this way? The easiest answers are wrong. Literal interpretation is out: Nazis didn’t believe […]

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    Talking Is Throwing Fictional Worlds at One Another

    A linguist exposes the inner truths about language.

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    Welcome to the Next Level of Bullshit

    The language algorithm GPT-3 continues our descent into a post-truth world.

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    The Universe Knows Right from Wrong

    A proponent of panpsychism argues moral truth is inherent in consciousness.

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    Your Guide to the Many Meanings of Quantum Mechanics

    The question “What is real?” is inescapable if you study quantum mechanics.Photo illustration by Nikk / Flickr Quantum mechanics is more than a century old, but physicists still fight over what it means. Most of the hand wringing and knuckle cracking in their debates goes back to an assumption known as “realism.” This is the […]

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    The Neurons That Appeared from Nowhere

    How an accident led to what could be a medical revolution.

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    Why Mathematicians Should Stop Naming Things After Each Other

    A past generation’s glory can be the next generation’s headache.

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    An Ancient Site with Human Skulls on Display

    Where our ancestors began to elevate themselves above nature.