Latest Ideas headlines

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

A wish to right some wrongs

Cartoonist Beth Wolfensberger Singer envisions school-supply solutions to a thorny problem.

This computer scientist got rejected from a journal — and then things got worse.

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: A question of authorship

This computer scientist got rejected from a journal — and then things got worse.

Researchers found that monitoring children who may have been exposed is key to potential early intervention.

Brainiac

Big Data: The impacts of Zika

Researchers found that monitoring children who may have been exposed is key to potential early intervention.

Researchers at UC Berkeley investigated a possible way to slow down global warming.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: A veil to protect the planet

Researchers at UC Berkeley investigated a possible way to slow down global warming.

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Fancy isn’t friendly

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Time to take a vacation from politics

After a tense summer, wouldn’t it be nice to take a politics-free vacation?

Women turn out in large numbers, some carrying placards reading "We want beer," for the anti prohibition parade and demonstration in Newark, N.J., Oct. 28, 1932. More than 20,000 people took part in the mass demand for the repeal of the 18th Amendment. (AP Photo)

Brainiac

How did FDR really win in 1932?

This week in Uncommon Knowledge: presidential history, developing countries, and local newspapers.

Supporters of President Donald Trump shout down a CNN news crew before a rally Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Brainiac

QAnon, the latest sprawling online conspiracy theory

As Pizzagate demonstrated, Internet conspiracies have consequences offline.

FILE — The Johnston Gate at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., April 30, 2018. Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than any other race on personal traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage and kindness, according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed as part of a lawsuit against the university. (Hadley Green/The New York Times)

Brainiac

Big Data: Trigger warnings

This Harvard study reported on professors’ use of trigger warnings.

FILE - In this Thursday, July 12, 2018, file photo, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok during the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform hearing on

Ideas | Zachary D. Kaufman

When sexual abuse is common knowledge — but nobody speaks up

The #MeToo movement has shown not only how rampant sexual abuse is, but also how often third parties disregard it — or even enable it.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Opinion | Mark Pasnik and Chris Grimley

Trump can’t stand brutalism. The feeling is mutual

The movement represents the antithesis of the chintzy glamor of President Trump’s personal aesthetic.

Steve Masoner, co-fonder of the non-profit

Ideas | Timothy Haab

What’s the value of a clean beach? Here’s how to run the numbers

Putting a price on natural resources has encouraged decision-makers to recognize that natural capital is finite.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

The straw that broke the liberals’ back

How not to suck at virtue signaling.

BRAINIAC

Uncommon Knowledge: Housing, crime, and gift-giving

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Upside-down Tinder

This Tinder user came up with an unusual way to try and get matches on the app.

Google search results spiked after the president took this assessment.

Brainiac

How Donald Trump popularized an obscure cognitive test

Google search results spiked after the president took this assessment.

The Shroud of Turin’s authenticity has been in question for centuries.

Brainiac

Researchers offer paltry evidence on Shroud of Turin findings

The Shroud of Turin’s authenticity has been in question for centuries.

Can the Supreme Court be saved?

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Can the Supreme Court be saved?

We need to deal with the deeper issue: the politicization of the highest court in the land.

A man looks at an idled duck boat in the parking lot of Ride the Ducks Saturday, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo. One of the company's duck boats capsized Thursday night resulting in several deaths on Table Rock Lake. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Ideas | Rachel Slade

Duck boats had trouble from the start

The story of the duck boat disaster in Missouri began long ago off the coast of Cape Cod. Maritime tradition, rather than modern safety needs, explains the way we regulate passenger boats.

Criminal justice looks at the severity of the crime. But the scales are often tipped by random chance.

Ideas | Maria Devlin McNair

Should the law be based on luck?

Criminal justice looks at the severity of the crime. But the scales are often tipped by random chance.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Proper parenting revisited with Amy Vanderbilt

Test your parenting instincts against tips from Vanderbilt’s 1952 masterwork.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by PATRICK SEEGER/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9710531c) Iodine tablets are placed on a desk at a college in Fessenheim, France, 12 June 2018. The nearby nuclear plant in Fessenheim is the oldest and most efficient nuclear power plant that is still in operation in France.

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: The problem with repeat publishing

For Barislav Momcilovic, the third time definitely was not the charm.

This study investigates whether people actually have a fictional childhood memory.

Brainiac

Seeking fictional first memories

This study investigates whether people actually have a fictional childhood memory.

Men are doing more of the grocery shopping, but the experience doesn’t seem tailored to this increasingly important demographic.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: The male grocery experience

Men are doing more of the grocery shopping, but the experience doesn’t seem tailored to this increasingly important demographic.

FILE-- A math camp at Murry Bergtraum High School in New York, Aug. 5, 2016. Studies have shown that increased high school math graduation requirements have been linked to higher future earnings. (Alex Wroblewski/The New York Times)

Brainiac

Can simple phrasing reverse gender bias?

This week in Uncommon Knowledge: gender bias, upward mobility, and teasing trivia.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Judge Brett Kavanaugh listens to Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) talk about Kavanaugh's qualifications before a meeting in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh is meeting with members of the Senate after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated him to succeed retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ideas | Jesse Singal

When outrage is all the rage, progressive politics suffer

Online outrage may be altering our thinking in worrisome ways and interfering with our ability to be effective, well-adjusted people.

TRUMP SLIDER Mandatory Credit: Photo by CHRISTIAN BRUNA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9757696ew) US President Donald J. Trump speaks during a press conference on the second day of the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, 12 July 2018. NATO member countries' heads of states and governments gather in Brussels on 11 and 12 July 2018 for a two days meeting. EU Nato Summit, Brussels, Belgium - 12 Jul 2018

IDEAS | Mark Hannah

Did Trump just destroy NATO? If so, should we care?

The real threat to European democracy and unity comes not from Russia but from within the West itself.

Hands pointing to midday on clock face

Brainiac

Digestive cycles out of order

Working nights can really throw off your digestion.

An employee stands at a control panel as robotic arms, manufactured by ABB, operate inside the MAN factory operated by Volkswagen in Munich, Germany, on May 16, 2018. MUSTS CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Matthias Doering.

Brainiac

Electoral impacts of robot workers

Oxford researchers found out how robot usage can influence how humans vote.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Finding our humanity in animals

Our president dismisses certain groups as “animals,” but most of us learn from a young age to identify with our fellow creatures.

Humans are just one of many animals sharing the fate of a finite Earth, and what we do — and have done — to animals has broad implications for our future.

Ideas | Amy Crawford

Why is history always about humans?

Humans are just one of many animals sharing the fate of a finite Earth, and what we do — and have done — to animals has broad implications for our future.

When a marriage ends, who gets the family pet?

Ideas | Elisa Orzac Shoenberger

When a marriage ends, who gets the family pet?

The history of pets and the law has been contentious.

Cambridge, MA 01/12/2016 – A wild turkey stands at a doorway on Mt Auburn St. in Cambridge , MA, on January 12, 2015. (Globe staff photo / Craig F. Walker) section: Lifestyle reporter: Arnett

Ideas | Aditi Shrikant

When wild animals urbanize

As the territorial boundaries between humans and animals begin to overlap in cities, both sides are devising strategies for coexistence.

FILE - This June 28, 2002, file photo, the polar bear Gus takes a nap at Central Park Zoo in New York. The Wildlife Conservation Society says veterinarians euthanized Gus on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013, because he had a large, inoperable tumor. Gus lived to be 27 when the median life expectancy for male polar bears in zoos is less than 21. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Did humans drive this polar bear insane?

It took years for society to accept the importance of humans’ mental health. Are we ready to make the same leap for animals in zoos?

3/5/1964-Jim Buck, professional dog walker, walking in and around Central Park. Sack 69480. Staff photo. NYTCREDIT: Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Are we making our pets crazy, too?

Captivity is hard on exotic species, but what about dogs and cats? They’ve been bred for life with humans. But they also need to be themselves.

LYNCHBURG, VA - JANUARY 18: Thousands of students, supporters and invited guests sing songs of Christian praise before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers the convocation in the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University January 18, 2016 in Lynchburg, Virginia. A billionaire real estate mogul and reality television personality, Trump addressed students and guests at the non-profit, private Christian university that was founded in 1971 by evangelical Southern Baptist televangelist Jerry Falwell. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ideas | Cathy Young

Is liberal democracy failing? No, it’s a victim of its own success

Is Western democracy failing? The march of right-wing populism has spawned a cottage industry of pessimism. But the real problem is that liberalism has been a rousing success.

Once, women were taught to bake; men, to skin moose and fell trees. Now, as gender-specific survival skills give way to gender-neutral “adulting,” how will society react?

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

The triumph of gender-neutral ‘adulting’

Once, women were taught to bake; men, to skin moose and fell trees. Now, as gender-specific survival skills give way to gender-neutral “adulting,” how will society react?

Forget about shooting a bow and arrow or sailing a boat. Modern humans, men and women alike, need a different set of skills to get by.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

17 survival skills for modern adults

Forget about shooting a bow and arrow or sailing a boat. Modern humans, men and women alike, need a different set of skills to get by.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Welcome to hell. Remember to take a selfie

Even the realm of Hades deserves to make it onto Instagram.

Brainiac

Big Data: 88 percent accuracy rate

Scientists claim this blood test can assess whether a child is on the autism spectrum.

 This Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 image provided by NASA shows Saturn’s moon Enceladus as the Cassini spacecraft made a close flyby of the icy moon. The U.S.-European spacecraft skimmed within 30 miles of the south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute via AP)

Brainiac

Which icy moon should NASA visit?

NASA is launching two missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa. Could more useful data be hidden on a different moon?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by WU HONG/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9727521a) An elder Chinese investor watches an electronic board showing the stock index and prices at a securities brokerage house in Beijing, China, 26 June 2018. The Shanghai composite index closed at 2,844.51, down 0.52 percent. The Shenzhen composite index closed at 9,339.37, up 0.16 percent. China stock markets results, Beijing - 26 Jun 2018

Brainiac

Looking for negative signals

Despite global progress, a team of psychologists observed that “the majority of people believe that the world is getting worse.”

1,000 words for happiness

Ideas | Tim Lomas

1,000 words for happiness

You’re entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But what kind of happiness? This scholar has documented nearly 1,000 ways of describing it.

Cambridge, MA--11/15/2015--Boston's night skyline is viewed from Cambridge, on Sunday, November 15, 2015. The sewer pipes are stacked on Memorial Drive near Amesbury Street. The blader/skater is unidentified. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: standalone run Reporter: XXX

Ideas | Justin Chen

Justin Chen: How robots turn sewers into sensors

Water-sampling robots, placed at strategic points in a sewer system, are capable of delivering ever-more precise information about a community’s health.

How ice cream made America

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

How ice cream made America

The history of the nation’s favorite frozen dessert is also the history of the nation itself: a triumph of ingenuity, technology, and mass marketing.

Homemade sweet pea ice cream has a lovely texture and a natural sweetness.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Recipe: Sweet pea ice cream

A reporter learned about homemade ice cream from local civil rights leader Mel King, and incorporated his enthusiasm into her own recipe.