Latest Ideas headlines

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Snakes could be the original source of the new coronavirus outbreak in China

Snakes may be the original source of the newly discovered coronavirus that has triggered an outbreak of a deadly infectious respiratory illness in China this winter.


Explainer: The McKinsey controversy

The elite management consulting firm faces scrutiny for its ICE contract.

50 words

50 Words


We’re all shark researchers now

Our fascination with shark sightings — and the accompanying photos and tweets — has been a boon to shark researchers and public safety officials on Cape Cod who have partnered with the public to better understand shark behavior and prevent and prepare for future attacks.


A tide of contempt is corroding our politics. Where is the leader who can turn it aside?

What makes American politics so dysfunctional isn’t that we have sharp disagreements. It is the hateful scorn with which those disagreements are expressed.


Bill Barr’s troubling view of law enforcement

In a speech at the Justice Department, the attorney general seemed to suggest that communities of color critical of the police don't deserve protection.


Big Data

Close to half of workers in the United States age 18 to 64 — about 53 million people nationwide — are earning low hourly wages compared to nationwide median wages and their local cost of living, according to a report released last month by The Brookings Institution.


Hope is not enough

We need mass mobilization to take on climate change.


Why I strike

Student leaders of the climate change movement say we need more than hope -- we need visionary legislation.


In presidential politics, money is changing everything

On her way out, Kamala Harris warned us about billionaire candidates and what money can buy in this presidential campaign.

Mexico is Trump’s wall

An increasing number of migrants who've been stopped from entering the United States are opting to stay in Mexico, changing the country's demographics.

50 words: Recognition

50 Words: Recognition


The Mueller Report was not a hoax

The GOP is trying to paint the Ukraine investigation as another farce, just like the Russia investigation. But the Russia investigation was no farce.


The death of free markets

How big companies turned America into Monopoly Land.


We know medical error is a deadly problem. Why haven’t we fixed it?

Hospitals are using checklists and information-sharing tools - but often, not effectively.


Are you grateful?

Actively practicing gratitude can make us happier.


Big Data: Zero

The United States resettled zero refugees in the month of October. It was the first time since reporting began that the number was so low.


We’ve turned our attention to Latin America again. That’s bad for Latin America.

Our wars in the Middle East distracted us, for a time, from our destructive practice of meddling in Central and South America. No longer.


A Green Death: At my grandparents’ grave, rethinking the final passage

4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid is too much. There is another way.


Axes, a battering ram, and Boston’s forgotten fight against slavery

In 1854, a crowd of protesters - black and white, immigrants and Brahmins - joined in a violent protest against the imprisonment of a man who had escaped slavery and settled in Boston. When a court moved to return him to the South, 50,000 opponents crowded the streets.


The GOP’s willful blindness to Trump’s abuses is putting our democracy in peril

This should be a hair-on-fire moment for the American people.

Who’s the lucky one? What we often forget when we think about adoption

What we often forget when we think about adoption

Big Data: 331 Deaths

The annual count of killings of trans and gender diverse people was released on the International Trans Day of Remembrance.

50 Words: Feeding the meter

Boston in 50 words.


They called us ‘flat-earthers.’ But we were right

Twenty years ago, the activists who demonstrated outside the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle were ridiculed. Now, they look prescient.

50 Words: Driving down Hancock . . .

An ongoing series of stories about Boston in 50 words.

Cartoon | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

A different take on the haunted house

Beth Wolfensberger Singer’s take on the news.

A Costco rotisserie chicken.

Big Data: The cost of Costco’s rotisserie chicken

The price of a Costco rotisserie chicken hasn’t changed in 10 years. The retailer has gone to new lengths to keep costs low.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt spoke at a news conference in May.

Ideas | Caleb Gayle

What a conservative state can teach us about progressive criminal justice reform

Oklahoma will soon commute the sentences of more than 400 inmates convicted of low-level crimes. If a deep-red state can take criminal justice reform seriously, so can others.

Cartoon | Sage Stossel

In the spirit of the season

Sage Stossel’s take on the news.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was all smiles at a campaign rally in suburban Toronto — but he wore body armor beneath his shirt.


Canada is not the liberal paradise you imagine

The American left fetishizes a political system that doesn’t look nearly as healthy up close as it does from afar.

Ideas | Q&A

Will robots kill our jobs? What an MIT report tells us about the future of work

We’re on the brink of a technological revolution. But will that result in benefits spread across society or just for a few?

Big Data: A big milestone in quantum computing?

Google says it’s achievement is revolutionary. Competitors aren’t as kind.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren showed her support for striking Chicago school teachers on Tuesday. The Democratic presidential race seems to be boiling down to a single question.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Will ‘Medicare for All’ destroy Elizabeth Warren’s campaign?

The Democratic presidential race seems to be boiling down to a single question.

50 Words: South End, 1985

An ongoing series of stories about Boston in 50 words.

Harriet Tubman (left) posed for a photograph with a group of slaves she helped escape. Climate change is imperiling a number of important African American historical sites.

Ideas | Rona Kobell

Climate change is wiping out Harriet Tubman’s homeland, and we’re doing little about it

America’s racialized topography means African-American historical sites are especially vulnerable to climate change; the fact that we’re willing to lose these places speaks volumes.

Ideas | Flynn Coleman

Are we modeling AI on the wrong brain?

Much like humans had to first let go of having to fly exactly like birds fly in order to crack the code of flight, we must now look beyond the widely held belief that the human mind is singular and unique as an intellectual model.

Big Data: The tenure of a Supreme Court justice

How long does a justice on the high court serve, on average?

50 Words: Boston City Hall . . .

An ongoing series of stories about Boston in 50 words.

A new biography of the planner responsible for empowering Boston’s redevelopment agency, Ed Logue (above), challenges a long-held, simple narrative.

Ideas | Courtney Humphries

Ed Logue and the birth of modern Boston

A new biography of the man who remade the city in the 1960s challenges popular tropes about the evils of urban renewal.

Cartoon | A.J.B. Lane

Leave it to Hunter

Cartoonist A.J.B. Lane’s take on the news.

TOPSHOT - A woman covers her face as she stands along the side of a road on the outskirts of the town of Tal Tamr near the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain along the border with Turkey in the northeastern Hassakeh province on October 16, 2019, with the smoke plumes of tire fires billowing in the background to decrease visibility for Turkish warplanes that are part of operation


Condemning Trump on Syria? It’s ‘buffet outrage’

Much of the criticism is a hypocritical blend of anti-Trump fanaticism and frustration over the emerging reality that we have lost the Syrian war.

Minneapolis is one of the cities that has replaced Columbus Day celebrations with Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations.

Big Data

A number of Mass. cities won’t celebrate Columbus Day on Monday

Six communities across the state will instead observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Amherst, Northampton, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, and Great Barrington.

People of all ages march as they take part in a strike to demand action on climate change on Sept. 20 in New York City.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette

Contrived generational wars disguise the failure of the American Dream

It’s not about “greedy” Boomers or “slacker” Gen Xers. It’s about a generation-spanning decline in upward mobility.

Stat | Adam Dean and Simeon Kimmel

Beyond the Sacklers: Free-trade policies contributed to the opioid epidemic

We can’t say for sure that job losses are killing people. Yet it seems likely that there’s a relationship.

Cartoon | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Some reworked Halloween decorations

Beth Wolfensberger Singer’s take on the news.

A Boston primer from ideas

// Welcome back!

For those new to the city and those returning after a summer break, here’s a tour of the geography, history, culture, and language of Boston through recent stories from the Ideas section.


The cover for the January 26 2020 issue

The cover for the January 19 2020 issue

The cover for the January 12 2020 issue

The cover for the January 5 2020 issue