The Risks of Revolution

After the euphoria of Tunisia and Egypt, Qaddafi’s defiance provides a reminder that revolutions are often bloody and uncertain for their duration, says Wendell Steavenson.

All the odds were against the recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East. So with our predictive capacities so embarrassingly feeble, we should appeal to a narrative that unifies Arab people against their oppressors: "The idea that Arab governments should respond to their citizens instead of ruling them is almost unprecedented. The people of the Middle East, like Emile Habiby’s tragicomic hero Saeed the Pessoptimist, have been subject to the vicissitudes of their history: occupation, empire, emir. Saeed resists the lures of both optimism and pessimism."

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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