Choice Science

Whether it’s deciding what to drink, what to wear or whom to marry, The Salon’s Thomas Rogers asks if America’s decision-obsession is always for the best.

"To most Americans the idea of an arranged marriage sounds not only bizarre, but fundamentally wrong. How could you let someone else decide the person you're going to be spending the rest of your life with? But as Sheena Iyengar describes in her new book, ‘The Art of Choosing,’ arranged marriage has been the norm in many parts of the world for 5,000 years -- including in the Sikh community in which her parents were married -- and our opposition to the idea says a great deal about the ways in which culture and history have shaped the way Americans think about personal choice. Iyengar, who grew up in Sikh enclaves in New York and New Jersey, is now a professor of business at Columbia University and one of the country's leading researchers on decision making. In ‘The Art of Choosing,’ a broad and fascinating survey of current research on the subject, Iyengar stitches together personal anecdotes, examples from popular culture, and scientific evidence to explain the complex calculus that goes into our everyday choices, from picking our favorite soda to choosing our medical insurance. She also writes about the ways in which her blindness -- Iyengar lost her sight as a teenager -- has given her a unique perspective on the subject."

Ethnic chauvinism: Why the whole world shouldn’t look like America

We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.

Videos
  • When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
  • American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
  • We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
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Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
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First solar roadway in France turned out to be a 'total disaster'

French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.

Image source: Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
  • French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
  • Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
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