Latest Ideas headlines


The emojis we really need

A look at some of the emojis missing from the latest batch of Internet symbols.

People walk at the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, June 23, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, upheld the practice of considering race in college admissions, rejecting a white woman's challenge to a University of Texas affirmative action program designed to boost the enrollment of minority students. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz


On Second Thought: No take-backs

The University of Texas can dish out degrees, but it can’t take them back — at least not without a court order.

FILE - This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation's only test run of the 2020 Census. A trial will begin in federal court on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in San Francisco, over the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith, File)


Uncommon Knowledge: Wayward Soldiers, the God Excuse, and Joking While Female

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

In this Jan. 27, 2016 file photo, an Aedes aegypti mosquito known to carry the Zika virus, is photographed through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The number of Zika virus cases has crossed 100 in Rajasthan, a state in northern India where palaces and forts draw large numbers of tourists each year. The agency says that the new cases come amid a state health department investigation to track the outbreak of Zika in pregnant women in their first trimester. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)


Big Data: Putting mosquitoes on a diet

Frequent feedings can lead to the spread of diseases like yellow fever, dengue, and Zika.

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - AUGUST 31: St. Peter's Basilica stands in Rome on August 31, 2018 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tensions in the Vatican are high following accusations that Pope Francis covered up for an American ex-cardinal accused of sexual misconduct. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a member of the conservative movement in the church, made the allegations and has called for the pontiff to resign. Many Vatican insiders see the dispute as an outgrowth of the growing tension between the left leaning Pope and the more conservative and anti-homosexual faction of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Ideas | Michael Rezendes

With so much of its leadership compromised, is the Catholic Church irredeemable?

The sexual abuse crisis has become the scandal that never ends. If the church can’t address it, a revolt of the laity — or even a schism in the church itself — could be coming.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

The difficulties of Valentine’s Day in 2019

Though billed as a celebration of love, most of us know from experience that Valentine’s Day, in fact, can be a purveyor of angst.

cute funny Syrian fluffy hamster lies and sleeps. isolated on white background


Big Data: Similarities between hibernation and Alzheimer’s

A rodent brain offers insights on Alzheimer’s.


Uncommon Knowledge: Gendered Hires, Time vs. Money, and Creative Passion

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.


On second thought

Credit where credit is due.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

The Science of Love

Love and friendship still happen without the benefit of science. But we could all use a little jumpstart these days.

Ideas | Swathi Meenakshi Sadagopan

Artificial intelligence’s diversity problem

Much of the criticism leveled at AI focuses on biased data. But what if the people building AI are biased, too?

This artist's rendering shows the first interstellar asteroid: 'Oumuamua. This unique object was discovered on Oct. 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. The University of Toronto's Alan Jackson reported Monday, March 19, 2018, that the asteroid — the first confirmed object in our solar system originating elsewhere — is probably from a binary star system. That's where two stars orbit a common center. According to Jackson and his team, the asteroid was likely ejected from its system as planets formed. (M. Kornmesser/European Southern Observatory via AP)

Ideas | Joshua Sokol

Why a Harvard astronomer is spouting farfetched ideas about aliens

Avi Loeb knows there’s life out there, but will we recognize it when we see it?


Uncommon Knowledge: Populist TV, the Power of Lobbying, and the Fringe Benefits of Marriage

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

FILE - In this May 12, 2005, file photo, a herd of elephant seals lounge in a slumbering pile in a sandy cove on the Southeast Farallon Island at the Farallon Islands National Refuge, Calif. Environmental research projects on everything from endangered animals to air and water quality are being delayed and disrupted by the month-long partial federal government shutdown _ and not just those conducted by government agencies. Scientists with universities, nonprofit organizations and private companies say their inability to collaborate with federal partners, gain access to federal lands and laboratories, and secure federal funding is jeopardizing their work. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, file)


Big Data: Welcome to seal beach, California

Elephant seals take advantage of the government shutdown.


On Second Thought: Clinical trial enrollment

For clinical researchers, enrolling patients in trials is among the more challenging aspects of the job.

Boston. 01/17/19- A developer hopes to rebrand the area around North Station as “Uptown.” Photo by John Tlumacki/Globe Staff(business)


Boston must come to grips with its new geography

Travel guides send out-of-towners to the historic Freedom Trail, but longtime residents should take a different tour through the future of Boston.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Apps can put therapy in the palm of your hand. But what happens when they go haywire?

Apps are spreading the benefits of psychotherapy. But they’re also spreading the risks.


Tom Brady: More than a G.O.A.T

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is more than a G.O.A.T., according to author and illustrator A.J.B. Lane.

Education challenge burden and school debt concept as a group of mortarboards or graduate cap being lifted higher with one sinking weighted down by a rock with 3D illustration elements.; Shutterstock ID 418328926; PO: 0918_ramos; Client: Ideas

Ideas | Aimee Ortiz

It’s poverty and inequality that undercut Boston’s brightest

Colleges and universities must recognize the diversity of disadvantaged students in order to properly meet their needs.

The internal structure of the body, cells, and organisms in the environment, the interaction of microbes and cell bodies; Shutterstock ID 331444775; PO: books 8/14 ILLUSTRATION BY GREG KLEE


On Second Thought: Researchers in Sweden choose transparency

When scientists discover that their earlier research is flawed, they have a choice: They can ignore the error and hope no one else notices, too, or they can call attention to the mistake and point other researchers toward new (and more accurate) information.

FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo, commuters board a Caltrain train at the Caltrain and Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Millbrae, Calif. The Federal Transit Administration is delaying a decision on whether to approve a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that would also help California's high-speed rail project. Congressional Republicans had pushed the administration to reject the application from Caltrain. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)


Big Data: Want more people to use public transit?

Make it safer for women.

FILE - In this Sunday, July 7, 2013 file photo, celebrity Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay serves up a bowl of


Uncommon Knowledge: No business on TV

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

A cardinal waits for his turn at a bird feeder in the snow. Snow is falling in most of central Alabama Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, and will continue until mid afternoon. Accumulation of 1-3 inches is possible. Snow begins to accumulate near Springville, Ala. (Joe Songer/ via AP)

Ideas | Bridget B. Baker

Are animals miserable in the winter?

A parka, knit hat, wool socks, insulated boots, and maybe a roaring fire make things bearable for people who live in cold climates. But what about all the wildlife out there? Won’t they be freezing?


Ideas | Emily Sweeney

Dropkick Murphy and the dawn of detox

Long before the Betty Ford clinic, a retired professional wrestler was helping celebrities and alcoholics get healthier.

Boston MA 4/20/18 Marijuana enthusiast taking a toke on a marijuana cigarette to celebrate 4/20, a secret code about smoking marijuana in the Boston Common (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: 22quickbitepic reporter:


Good manners for a pot-friendly society

Ideas asked a Boston-area etiquette expert for some guidance on good manners for a society newly tolerant of marijuana.

Ideas | S.I. Rosenbaum

Should you smoke pot in front of the kids?

The rapid legalization of marijuana raises a host of etiquette challenges. Is it an acceptable host gift? How do you consume a long-illegal drug without feeling sketchy?


How it feels to wait (and wait) for the Mueller report

Waiting for special counsel Robert Mueller to drop his report is like. . .


Uncommon Knowledge: Interracial dating, morality and humor, and “benevolent sexism”

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

FILE - In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. A Facebook official says the social media platform is shutting down a series of fake news sites spreading false information about the Bangladesh opposition days before national elections. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)


On Second Thought: The fake news about fake news

Just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read, even if it’s about why you shouldn’t believe everything you read.

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

Is there a monogamy gene?

In only a few species do males stick around long enough to protect and help raise their young — and for years, that rare phenomenon has left scientists puzzled.


Big Data: The western monarch butterfly is in trouble

The western monarch, famous for its orange and black coloring, could face extinction if nothing is done to preserve its habitat.

FILE — Members of National Nurses United at a speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about health care on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 13, 2017. A Medicare-for-all bill drafted by Sanders is gaining support among Democrats as they look ahead to the 2020 presidential race. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Elizabeth Warren is calling for Medicare for all. What does England’s experience tell us?

Just months after stepping down as chairman of England’s National Health Service, Sir Malcolm Grant weighs in on America’s new fascination with single-payer health care.

Boston, MA - 01/17/19 - Myles Standish Hall. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter: (Dante Ramos) Topic: (standish)


The safe spaces that our colleges really need

Campus buildings get public attention for their historic elegance or modern glitz. But behind closed doors, discussions about physical safety shape buildings in radical ways.

Ideas | Joshua Macht

How the podcast juggernaut took off

Podcasting was the province of earnest public radio nerds. But the economics are suddenly right for a media format that fits easily into our lives


America in black and white

In time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sage Stossel envisions a contemplation of the country’s greater and lesser Kings.

Opinion | Cathy Young

Is hatred of women all around us? Don’t be so sure

Hatred of women is a genuine problem, but overuse of the word “misogyny” makes it harder to point out the real thing.

Facebook. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer


Big Data: Who fell for the hoax stories on Facebook during the 2016 election?

11 Percent of American Facebook users over age 65 shared hoax stories during the 2016 election season — far more than the 3 percent of adults under 29 who fell for such fake news.


Uncommon Unknowledge: Ginger, hiding from Trump, and paying for the homeless

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Brown cricket isolated on white


Revelation: Were crickets behind the ‘sonic attack’ on the American embassy in Cuba?

In the fall of 2016, American diplomats in Cuba complained of high-pitched sounds that were leading to headaches, vertigo, and hearing loss.


On Second Thought: Cancer researcher facing potential criminal charges for research misconduct

Cancer researcher Alfredo Fusco has been facing potential criminal charges in Italy for research misconduct for more than five years, including accusations that his lab used a photo studio to doctor images in his published papers.


Putting the ‘he’ in ‘heroes’

Saving lives and fighting fires, it’s all heroics until you get back to the firehouse.

Ideas | Aimee Ortiz

The global poor go online for the same reasons you do

News flash, folks: Internet users in the developing world have the same motivations you do.

Ideas | Stefanie Dreyer

Who’s protecting the Internet? Five guys at a nonprofit

Trillions have been invested in the Internet, which plays a central role in our economy and our lives. But a surprisingly small group of people protect it.

US President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable discussion about school safety in the Roosevelt Room of the the White House December 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Ideas | Robert Zaretsky

Nationalism doesn’t have to mean exclusion

The philosopher who coined “nationalism” also preached inclusivity.

Turtle underwater touching water surface with flipper, closeup portrait on blue water background


Big Data: How climate change is causing the ‘feminization’ of the green turtle

The “feminization” of the species is just one of several looming problems for the green turtle.

Outside view of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric power plant in Napo, Ecuador, on November 20, 2018. - According to authorities the assessment of structural damage found in the largest hydroelectric plant in Ecuador, which was built by Chinese company Sinohydro, will take about a year and the audit, that begins in December, will be carried out by the German firm Tuv Sud. (Photo by Cristina VEGA / AFP)CRISTINA VEGA/AFP/Getty Images

Ideas | Ricardo Hausmann

How China’s secrecy helps developing countries hurt themselves

Chinese loans could be a boost for like Ecuador, Venezuela, and others, but the secretive terms let these countries get in over their heads.


Elizabeth Warren is running. Here’s a radical idea she should embrace

Cartoonist Beth Wolfensberger Singer has some advice for Senator Elizabeth Warren as she begins her run for president.