The brainstorming myth

Jonah Lehrer In the late nineteen-forties, Alex Osborn, a partner in the advertising agency B.B.D.O., decided to write a book in which he shared his creative secrets. At the time, B.B.D.O. was widely regarded as the most innovative firm on Madison Avenue. Born in 1888, Osborn had spent much of his career in Buffalo, where … Continue reading

Killing One Person To Save Five

Researchers test a famous ethical dilemma called the "trolley problem" in a very real setting. Christie Nicholson reports Would you kill one person to save five others? Philosophers have posed this moral dilemma for decades. Typically they present the situation as a mental exercise. A runaway train is about to strike five people walking along … Continue reading

Reading on the loo

Filthy habit or blameless bliss? A public health study by Ron Shaoul lifts the lid on toilet reading once and for all Ian Sample From the moment Ron Shaoul took it upon himself to investigate the practice of reading on the toilet, scouring medical literature and turning up nothing of note as to its public … Continue reading

The twilight war

Ten years after 9/11, what have we learned? An exclusive extract from the new afterword to the 9/11 Commission report Philip Zelikow The 2004 report by the 9/11 Commission, or the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was a landmark in government analysis of a catastrophe. The report … Continue reading

Dogs can learn to recognize smiles

Dogs can learn to tell apart smiles from blank ex­pres­sions in pho­tographs of peo­ple, a study has found. But wheth­er they rec­og­nize and re­spond to smiles in real life is open to ques­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­search­ers. “Although it re­mains un­clear wheth­er dogs have hu­man-like sys­tems for vis­u­al pro­cess­ing of hu­man fa­cial ex­pres­sions, the abil­ity … Continue reading

Evolution: Darwin’s city

David Sloan Wilson is using the lens of evolution to understand life in the struggling city of Binghamton, New York. Next, he wants to improve it. Emma Marris Download a PDF of this article David Sloan Wilson is holding a white ceramic dog dish and making the rounds at the Lost Dog Café in Binghamton, … Continue reading

Too Hard for Science?

Philip Zimbardo–creating millions of heroes By Charles Q. Choi  If outside influences can make people act badly, can they also be used to help people do good? In "Too Hard for Science?" I interview scientists about ideas they would love to explore that they don’t think could be investigated. For instance, they might involve machines … Continue reading

Google Still Pulling Ahead in Search

According to New comScore Numbers By Ryan Singel Google’s still sitting pretty at the top of the U.S. search heap, handling nearly two-thirds of all domestic searches, according to March data from comScore that contradicts a recent report showing Bing closing in on the search giant. Like Google, Microsoft’s Bing gained 0.3 percent of the … Continue reading

Holocaust Hegemony

. . . and its moral pitfalls. By SAM SCHULMAN  Last month, the Canadian journalist Richard Klagsbrun drew attention to a newly submitted Master’s thesis at the University of Toronto’s ed school: “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education.” Proud author Jennifer Peto told a reporter for … Continue reading

Thank your teachers: test-takers remember more

By John Timmer We expect that the majority of those reading this piece are all too familiar with the tests and quizzes that fill the academic landscape. Although most view these as (at best) a necessary evil—people need some way of tracking academic progress—it turns out that they actually play a useful pedagogical function: an … Continue reading

The Case for a New Way Forward in Afghanistan

Matthew Hoh Director of the Afghanistan Study Group I wanted to respond to critiques registered by Andrew Exum and Joshua Foust to the report issued by the Afghanistan Study Group last Wednesday (view video of the launch event at CSPAN). My colleagues on the Afghanistan Study Group, Bernard Finel, a senior fellow at the American … Continue reading

Why Is the Sky Blue?

In justifying his attack on the recent Afghanistan Study Group report, Josh Foust makes the following argument: Perhaps an argument from analogy might work. We have two men, each with an equivalent set of skills and abilities, but only one of them will be tasked with educating an entire generation of children in how to … Continue reading

Re-thinking US Stratergy in Afghanistan

A new way forward | re-thinking us stratergy in afghanistan read the report on-line download the report (pdf) REPORT OF THE AFGHANISTAN STUDY GROUP A New Way Forward: The Report At almost nine years, the U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest in our history, surpassing even the Vietnam War, and it will shortly surpass … Continue reading

In Defense of the Afghanistan Study Group Report

By Justin Logan  If the opposition to the Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan were anywhere near as hysterical or shrill as the attacks on the report of the Afghanistan Study Group (in which I participated), the country might be in a happier place. Perhaps it is unsurprising, but I don’t think the critics have covered … Continue reading

Study: Australians and New Zealanders are the world’s most generous people

Posted By Joshua Keating   The Charities Aid Foundation has launched the World Giving Index, an interesting tool for measuring generosity. The index uses Gallup survey data on the percentage of a population that has given money or time to charity or helped a stranger to rank countries by charitability. The countries in the top … Continue reading

Time for an Afghan Study Group?

By Peter Feaver Amidst all of the (mostly pessimistic) reporting on Afghanistan, one squib caught my eye: Congressman Frank Wolf has sent a letter to President Obama calling for the establishment of an Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group. The proposal is self-consciously modeled on the Iraq Study Group (ISG, aka the Baker-Hamilton Commission), which Congressman Wolf also … Continue reading


A flawed new study finds racial bias in police-on-police shootings. Heather Mac Donald The New York State Task Force on Police-on-Police Shootings recently concluded that black police officers who wield a gun out of uniform face an elevated chance of getting fatally shot by their fellow officers because of those officers’ racial bias. The report, … Continue reading