Author posts

Of spies and wars: the secret history of tea

How the British obsession with tea triggered wars, led to bizarre espionage, and changed the world — many times.

Epiphenomenalism: one of the most disturbing ideas in philosophy

Do our thoughts have any meaning whatsoever?

Zoo ethics: free-range prisons or centers for global conservation?

The ethical debate over zoos is going to grow louder. There might be a solution that involves robots.

Pragmatism: How Americans define truth

If something is "true," it needs to be shown to work in the real world.

The misguided history of female anatomy

From "mutilated males" to "wandering wombs," dodgy science affects how we view the female body still today.

Everything could have been so different

Your life is far more arbitrary than you might think.

Kafkaesque: How Franz Kafka’s books reveal a real-life dystopia

Unstable politics and virtue signaling are responsible for creating bureaucratic nightmares.

Dinosaurs were doomed even before the asteroid

Climate and ecological changes as well as disruption to the food chain were already killing off the dinosaurs.

Does the term “neurodiversity” do more harm than good?

Attempts to normalize abnormal development could prevent individuals in need of help from seeking it.

Nudibranchs: psychedelic body snatchers of the deep

These bizarre mollusks have the ability to regenerate their bodies and to absorb other organisms' attributes.

Aristotle’s guide to the elderly and ancient Greek wisdom

The wise, the old, and the experienced matter to a full and happy life.

If there is no God, can anything be objectively good?

Apart from divine authority, is there an ethical basis for right and wrong?

Pangolins are being trafficked to extinction in black market

Traditional Chinese medicine and Vietnamese culture are driving the pangolin to extinction.

Are you following the rules of life?

Life is governed by unspoken rules. How do you know you're following them correctly?

The power of authority: how easily we do what we’re told

Milgram's experiment is rightly famous, but does it show what we think it does?

Greed and the philosophy of wealth

When does a healthy desire for wealth morph into greed? And how can we stop it?

Pyrrho and the Skeptical way of life: ignorance is bliss

Why saying, "I don't know," might be the best thing you can do.

Twisted humor and life advice from Diogenes the Cynic

Diogenes was no doubt odd, but Cynicism might just help our overcrowded lives.

The secret social lives of trees

Have you ever heard a tree scream?

Will virtual reality be the death of truth?

A famous thought experiment from the 1970s is more relevant today than ever before.

Francis Bacon and the four barriers to truth

Truth might be hard to find, but we can take steps to eliminate common cognitive biases.

The Great Resignation: COVID revealed how abnormal the modern workplace is

Is working from home the ultimate liberation or the first step toward an even unhappier "new normal"?

Epicurus and the atheist's guide to happiness

Seek pleasure and avoid pain. Why make it more complicated?

Changing a brain to save a life: how far should rehabilitation go?

What's the difference between brainwashing and rehabilitation?

Why kids take board games so seriously

How morally developed are you?

Big think: Will AI ever achieve true understanding?

If you ask your maps app to find "restaurants that aren't McDonald's," you won't like the result.

The power of conformity: How good people do evil things

Many people believe that in the face of profound evil, they would have the courage to speak up. It might be harder than we think.

The foundations of mathematics are unproven

Philosopher and logician Kurt Gödel upended our understanding of mathematics and truth.

Is Dumbledore gay? The question highlights a deeper literary debate

Once a book is published, who gets to interpret it? Us or the author?

The Axial Age: When the greatest minds walked the earth

The Jewish prophets, Plato, Sun Tzu, and Buddha all lived in a "golden age" of philosophy that laid the foundation of modern thought.

A canvas of nonsense: how Dada reflects a world gone mad through art

Using urinals, psychological collages, and animated furniture to shock us into reality.

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Lessons from the Roman Empire about the danger of luxury

Are we enslaved by the finer things in life?

Ancient physics: How Democritus predicted the atom

Democritus also did not believe in free will but was still known as the "laughing philosopher."