America’s prison catastrophe: Can we undo it?

The US prison system continues to fail, so why does it still exist?

  • The United States is the world's largest prison warden. As of June 2020, America had the highest prisoner rate, with 655 prisoners per 100,000 of the national population. But according to experts, doing something the most doesn't mean doing it the best.
  • The system is a failure both economically and in terms of the way inmates are treated, with many equating it to legal slavery. American prisons en masse are expensive, brutal, and ineffective, so why aren't we trying better alternatives? And what exactly are these overstuffed facilities accomplishing?
  • Damien Echols and Shaka Senghor share first-hand accounts of life both in and after prison, while political science professor Marie Gottschalk, activist Liza Jessie Peterson, historian Robert Perkinson, and others speak to the ways that America's treatment of its citizens could and should improve. "The prison industrial complex is a human rights crisis," says Peterson. "Something needs to be done."
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Despite social pressure, boys and girls still prefer gender-typical toys

Fifty years of research on children's toy preferences shows that kids generally prefer toys oriented toward their own gender.

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  • A recent meta-analysis overviewed 75 studies on children's gender-related toy preferences.
  • The results found that "gender-related toy preferences may be considered a well-established finding."
  • It's a controversial topic: Some people argue that these preferences stem from social pressure, while others say they're at least partly rooted in biology.
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Why people become radical extremists and how to help them

New research sheds light on the indoctrination process of radical extremist groups.

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  • A new study features interviews with 24 former extremists on the radicalization process.
  • Financial instability, online propaganda, and reorienting events that caused them to "snap" are leading causes of indoctrination.
  • The research team offers potential solutions, including exposure to diverse ideas during childhood and a tamping down of polarization and media sensationalism.
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Even in mathematics, who you know may matter more than your talent

The Field Medal was created to elevate promising mathematicians from underrepresented demographics. But has it followed through on that goal?

Credit: Fung et al.
  • In a recent study, researchers collected data on the backgrounds and academic genealogy of thousands of mathematicians.
  • The results revealed that mathematicians of certain backgrounds—namely, from Western countries—are significantly more likely to join elite circles in mathematics.
  • The researchers issued recommendations for how elite institutions could help the Fields Medal accomplish its original goal.
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Politics desperately needs hope, so why does it no longer inspire it?

For some philosophers, hope is a second-rate way of relating to reality.

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In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the word 'hope' was ubiquitous in Western politics.
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