The Arms Race for Top Colleges

We are all caught up in a crazy arms race to send our kids to prestigious colleges, where the order of the day (to borrow a useful term from the Cold War) is "escalation dominance."

Is going to a so-called "better" college worth it? Is the system fair? The first question is the subject of seemingly endless study, which almost always concludes: It depends. The second question is easier to answer: Of course it isn't fair. Despite diversity goals, scholarships, loans, all kinds of waivers of application fees, and various other leg-up programs, the entire application system is so unjust that it makes the House of Lords look like a New England town meeting. This is especially true now, when the tanking economy puts college more and more out of reach for just about everyone other than the financially secure.

Why “shooting the messenger” is a real condition, explain scientists

Harvard psychologists discover why we dislike the people who deliver bad news.

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Surprising Science
  • A new study looked at why people tend to "shoot the messenger".
  • It's a fact that people don't like those who deliver them bad news.
  • The effect stems from our inherent need to make sense of bad or unpredictable situations.
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Philosopher Alan Watts on the meaning of life

He reminds us that meaning is wherever we choose to look.

Photo: Pictorial Parade/Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Alan Watts suggests there is no ultimate meaning of life, but that "the quality of our state of mind" defines meaning for us.
  • This is in contradiction to the notion that an inner essence is waiting to be discovered.
  • Paying attention to everyday, mundane objects can become highly significant, filling life with meaning.
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How to detect life on Mars

If life exists on Mars, there's a good chance it's related to us, say researchers.

NASA/JPL/USGS
Surprising Science

When MIT research scientist Christopher Carr visited a green sand beach in Hawaii at the age of 9, he probably didn't think that he'd use the little olivine crystals beneath his feet to one day search for extraterrestrial life.

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