The Future of Conservatism

Since the Republican Party's historic defeat in the 2008 elections, American conservatives have been seeking new ideas to rally around, new leaders to point the way forward. One year later, have they succeeded? Has President Obama's job performance helped or hurt their cause? Are the headline-grabbing "Tea Party" protests a sign of the GOP's weakness, or of its resurgent strength? And does Sarah Palin, whose hotly anticipated memoir debuts this week, have a political future? In a special series this week, Big Think poses these and other questions to four experts on "The Future of Conservatism."


The series kicks off today with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks nonprofit has backed Tea Party protests across the nation since early 2009. In his Big Think interview, Armey castigated both sides of the aisle for failing the small-government principles he believes most Americans espouse. He also criticized the GOP for alienating Hispanic voters, accused both Bush and Obama for "bumbling" on foreign policy and economics, and drew on his early career as an economics professor to offer his own prescription for recovery.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
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Meet the Bajau sea nomads, who can hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
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After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

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Cornell scientists engineer artificial material that has three key traits of life

An innovation may lead to lifelike self-reproducing and evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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