Participatory democracy is presumed to be the gold standard. Here’s why it isn’t.

Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.

Photo by Nicholas Roberts /Getty Images
  • Polarization and extreme partisanships have been on the rise in the United States.
  • Political psychologist Diana Mutz argues that we need more deliberation, not political activism, to keep our democracy robust.
  • Despite increased polarization, Americans still have more in common than we appear to.
Keep reading Show less

Whales songs indicate where they’ve been — where they were born

Humpbacks swap songs at remote group of islands in the South Pacific.

Image source: Nico Faramaz/Shutterstock
  • A whale's song reflects its geographical and social history.
  • A new study identifies for the first time a major migratory crossroads where whales meet.
  • The discovery sheds light on the mystery of how whale songs evolve across the Pacific.
Keep reading Show less

Have conservative groups mastered the art of internet activism?

Left-leaning groups don't seem to have made as full use of the internet as right-leaning ones. As one conservative put it, Paul Revere had a horse, but they have the internet.

  • Initially, people saw the internet as a tool for driving more participatory, pluralistic, and personal discussions, especially around politics.
  • However, with the exception of major movements like Occupy Wall Street, left-leaning groups haven't made as much use of the internet as right-leaning ones. In her research, Jen Schradie found that liberals see the internet as one tool of many to advocate for fairness; the trouble is, the idea of "fairness" brings together many disparate groups, making it difficult to present an organized, unified front, especially online.
  • Conservatives see the internet as a vehicle for freedom — freedom from the state, free markets, and freedom of information. Conservatives made the internet their platform, where they could organize and discuss issues that they didn't believe were being represented in the media.
Keep reading Show less

How Pete Holmes creates comedic flow: Try micro-visualization

Setting a simple intention and coming prepared can help you — and those around you — win big.

  • Setting an intention doesn't have to be complicated, and it can make a great difference when you're hoping for a specific outcome.
  • When comedian Pete Holmes is preparing to record an episode of his podcast, "You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes," he takes 15 seconds to check in with himself. This way, he's primed with his own material and can help guests feel safe and comfortable to share theirs, as well.
  • Taking time to visualize your goal for whatever you've set out to do can help you, your colleagues, and your projects succeed.
Keep reading Show less

3 unsung heroes who helped society overcome division

The true course of progress is not only charted by great men and women, but also by ordinary people having conversations.

(Photos: Wikimedia/Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Flickr)
  • History's great men and women may enjoy name recognition, but everyday heroes can be anyone willing to talk.
  • We profile three everyday heroes who helped society overcome adversity through civil discourse.
  • Their stories validate John Stuart Mill's belief that good things happen when you converse with people with whom you disagree.
Keep reading Show less