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Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

Drink alcohol for a longer life, say scientists, just not too much

Moderate drinking is associated with a longer lifespan in just about every population ever studied, says Dr. Claudia Kawas, professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine.

Caffeine reduces brain blood flow. So how does it energize our minds?

While more controlled psychostimulants like amphetamines and cocaine facilitate a rush of blood to the whole brain, caffeine actually restricts blood flow overall. 

Why President Trump wants a military parade in Washington D.C.

President Donald Trump has requested that the U.S. armed forces stage a parade in the nation's capital to feature America's military might. The timing and source of the request has drawn a mixture of opinion.

What the U.S.-Mexico border wall would look like in Europe

The size of the U.S.-Mexico border wall proposed by the Trump administration seems shockingly ambitious when overlaid onto a map of Europe.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket passes crucial test, launch date imminent

Tickets are on sale to view the launch of SpaceX's largest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which carries with it humanity's ambition to land astronauts on the surface of Mars.

Here's What Puerto Rico Looks Like After Hurricane Maria

The US island territory of Puerto Rico, recently devastated by category 4 hurricane Maria, remains without electricity.

Non-theists believe less in 'random evolution' after viewing nature documentaries

According to a study recently published in the journal Emotion, being in awe of nature may make individuals less likely to accept scientific explanations for the existence of our universe.

These Numbers Tell the Story of Einstein's Gravitational Waves

LIGO is celebrating apparent confirmation of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, specifically that space and time are really one unit that exist as part of a gravitational grid.

French 'Anonymous' Releases Names of Suspected ISIS Recruiters

The online vigilante group says it has located personal information belonging to ISIS recruiters living in Europe.

Birth Order Doesn't Affect Personality, but It Does Affect Intelligence

Younger siblings generally have a lower IQ than their older brothers and sisters, according to three large national surveys from the US, UK, and Germany.

Why Human Babies Are Much Dumber than Animal Babies

Baby giraffes can stand within hours of birth and zebras can run in the first 45 minutes of life.

How Adult Coloring Books Can Bring Out the Artist in You

Coloring books for adults are an intriguing new hobby, breaking into the mainstream like the young-adult fiction boom before them. 

Is There a Moral Problem with Taking Endless Selfies?

There are apparently some high-stakes moral implications to taking selfies.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Is Saying Very Presidential Things

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's comments are plainly spoken, aspirational, and cognizant of an American aesthetic. It's presidential material, actually.

Truth Is Good, But Knowing Too Much Truth Is Harmful

The truth is a bitter pill to swallow, they say. Yet much of today's information economy is built on the premise that knowing more is better. 

Banksy's Dismaland: Here's What Is Not to Love About It

The fantasies, institutions, and humans at Dismaland do not merely sometimes fail us — they are marked for death from the start.

Like Athletes, Actors Use Steroids to Get Ahead. That’s Wrong.

Professional bodybuilders say the amount of muscle Jake Gyllenhaal gained in six months is impossible without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

College Professors Told to Fork Over Email Exchanges with Monsanto

In an unprecedented use of Freedom of Information laws, an anti-GMO group wants to read the emails of forty university professors with professional associations to biotechnology firms.

Ebola Vaccine Proves 100% Effective in Its First Trial

A vaccine that did not exist a year ago has proven 100 percent effective at preventing people who are at extremely high risk of infection from contracting the Ebola virus. 

15 percent of American adults don't use the internet. Who are they?

The internet now plays such a large role in daily life that it's difficult to imagine many people getting by without it.

Facebook Ready to Test Solar-Powered Drone that Delivers Internet

Facebook has released information on the first full-scale drones designed to deliver Internet services to underserved populations across the globe that lack developed infrastructure.

Rudeness spreads like an illness, until we decide to stop

A new study in the journal of Applied Psychology shows that rudeness has a ripple effect, negatively affecting interactions outside the initial one.

General Patton or Shakespeare's Henry V: Who Said It Better?

Two of the most famously rousing speeches in history, though one is from a dramatic work, address many of the same topics: bravery, fear, camaraderie, and death.

Presidential Candidates Are Trying to Go Viral and It's Getting Weird

The Internet is a different beast altogether, and instead of catering to the interest of journalists, candidates can/must appeal to the masses.

How Sexual Parity with Men Is Making Women Sex Slaves

Ironically, the more women have tried to free themselves from masculine norms of sexuality, the more they have adopted male sexual tendencies under the guise of sexual liberty.

How Goldman Sachs Profited from Greece's Debt Crisis

Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland have all suffered from the terms presented by the finance firm.

'Agreeing to Disagree' Is the End of Truly Listening to Each Other

For all we make about our disagreements with each other, we are bound to have more in agreement by the nature of conservation.

This Red Plant Is Twice as Healthy as Kale and Tastes Like Bacon

A plant with twice the nutritional value of kale, reported to taste like bacon when cooked, could soon be entering the U.S. health food market, possibly expanding its reach even wider.

Shaming the Obamas Over Lena Dunham Doesn’t Help Anyone

We never give people who live in the public eye the same amount of privacy and respect that we afford our personal friends.

Is Uber OK? Or Should Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Crush the Sharing Economy?

Many people use Uber and Airbnb to make some money on the side, but the cost of this, economists argue, is the displacement of more stable industries like traditional taxi and hotel companies.

Drugs that Make Us Feel Smart Are Ruining Our Lives

A recent study makes a compelling new case for why we shouldn't take drugs like Adderall precisely because they help us to succeed at things we otherwise wouldn't.

We’ll Have Self-Driving Cars as Taxis by 2030

Because the technology is new, equipping a car with autonomous technology costs about $150,000 (the zero-emission fuel system comes standard).

How Accurate Could a Computer Be at Diagnosing Depression?

Researchers have developed computer software that can diagnose clinical depression by noticing how people behave during psychiatric interviews.

Why is ISIS on Birthday Cakes and at Gay Pride Parades?

The Middle Eastern pan-Arab military organization has found its way into the hearts and minds of Westerners searching for a cause.

How Men Will Overcome the Decline of Manufacturing

In many respects, the new global economy has been more unkind to men than women.

All Space Colonies Will Begin as Dictatorships

A scarcity of crucial resources like water and air, and the high stakes of even temporarily running out, suggest that any Martian government would function as a military dictatorship.

Why Visionary Leaders Have Regrettable Personalities

Great individuals will sometimes behave badly because they can.

Should Prostitution Be Legal for Disabled People?

When we say prostitution is a scourge on society, we typically mean (without knowing it) that able-bodied people have better alternatives.

Shaming South Carolina to Remove the Confederate Flag

Our anger over the murder of nine black church-going individuals in South Carolina is real and justified, but is it useful?

Updated: Joyce Carol Oates is Way Funnier than the Ageist Internet

The Internet is a funny place. Humor is one the things it does best, which is why I was shocked, and ultimately disappointed, at the collective reaction to Joyce Carol Oates' recent tweet.

What Did Bill Nye See at Monsanto to Change His Mind on GMOs?

Genetically modified plants, in and of themselves, are not harmful, says Bill. In fact, they feed billions of people thanks to increased crop yields.

Pop music lyrics average a third-grade reading level

A great many of our most popular songs are written at just a third-grade reading level. That's the conclusion reached by an analysis of 225 popular songs.

After FIFA Messes with U.S. World Cup Bid, FBI Hits Back

It was when FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar — a country that could reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit during match play — red flags went up in the American legal system.

Scientists Explore Moving Glacier Ice to Antarctica for Safekeeping

In a bid to preserve records of atmospheric activity, climate scientists are looking to transport ice from the planet's mountainous regions, such as the Alps, all the way to Antarctica.

When Studies Go Wrong, Do We Fail Science, or Vice Versa?

Alas science does not operate outside the human realm, but as an extension of our natural capabilities — the good as well as the bad ones.

Small-Business Lender Treats Loyal Customers as Collateral

Called ZipCap, the private loan company enables small businesses to treat loyal customers as collateral — an asset which traditional lenders have never considered viable.

Study: Early Men and Women Were Equal in Tribal Society

The study opposes the notion that sexual equality is merely a goal of modern society that is mostly free of concerns over resource scarcity. 

What Music Was Truly Revolutionary? Hint: Not Punk.

Everyone's coming-of-age music sounds like a personal revolution, but when did music change for everyone and all at once?

Long-Range Iris-Scanning Technology Has Arrived

Using long-range iris-scanning technology, your identity can be determined from across the room with extremely high accuracy — as high as someone taking your fingerprints. 

How Fast Are Millennials Losing Their Religion? This Fast.

The rate at which younger generations are eschewing organized religion is increasing, even from within the millennial generation, according to polls taken by the Pew Research Center.

Congress Tries to Cut Amtrak Budget Day After Train Crash

Congress debated cutting $260 million from Amtrak's budget as emergency crews searched through the rubble of a train accident that killed six passengers the night before.

More Than Half the Dutch Manage to Work Just Part-Time

Ronald Dekker, a labour economist at Tilburg University, says part-time positions enjoy "first-tier" status.

Amazon Drops Gendered Taxonomy for Its Toys

The taxonomy team at Amazon is dropping "Boy" and "Girl" as categories for organizing its toys, as friends of those working at the online goods distributor recently announced on Twitter.

Stanford Psychologist: Technology Is Ruining a Generation of Men

Philip Zimbardo, who became a household name after conducting the Stanford prison experiments, argues that our online culture is disproportionately harming boys.

Work Without a Boss? Would You Give Up Being a Boss?

The high-paid consultants who change companies over to "Holacracy" explain from the outset that it takes an average of five years to make the transition.

Dad Bod's Got Nothing to do with Being a Dad, Apparently

To have a Dad Bod, unless it's truly born of heavy drinking and pizza slices, is to live a busy life in which preoccupation with one's body image is low on the list of priorities.

Self-Driving Semi Truck Licensed to Drive in Nevada

An autonomous 18-wheeler has been given a license to drive the long stretches of open road that crisscross Nevada.

New music discovery peaks at age 33, then declines

If you wondered why Missy Elliot performed at this year's Super Bowl halftime show, it may be because the NFL knew something about the musical tastes of its fan base, average age 44.

Language Game Inspired by Noam Chomsky's Linguistics

A new smartphone app gives a clever nod to Noam Chomsky while giving players just enough inspiration to create some pretty funny sentences.

National Prayer Day, or 'It's OK Not to Have a Religion Day'

Today is our National Day of Prayer, emphasis on "our" and "National," meaning freedom is the prevailing principle through which to approach our discussions (and Internet comments).

Artists Are Drug-Taking Heroes. Athletes Inspire with Sobriety.

Why does our belief in the ability of drugs to enhance the achievements of artists stop with artists? Isn't reaching new physical heights just as inspiring as a lyric that tells us some truth creatively?

For the Aging, Mobile Technology is the Most Freeing

Older people, 65 and older, are the most likely to reap the benefits of smartphone technology. 

Our Faith in Optimism Vastly Overestimates Its Power

When confronting a challenge, people with an optimistic outlook persist at trying to overcome that challenge about 20 percent longer than those with less optimism.

Emotional Intelligence Is Great, Until It's Misused

Emotional intelligence is a double-edged sword: It helps us avoid common misunderstandings that result in hurt feelings, but in the wrong hands, it can become a tool of manipulation.

Psychiatrist Rails Against Antidepressants' Marketing Myth

A scathing critique of antidepressant medication, just written by a psychiatrist in Wales, UK, is making waves across Britain and you can expect ripples to reach the U.S. in the coming days.

Stingy, Unkind People Are More Generous by Giving Less

If Scrooge gave away just a few pennies, he would suffer a big loss of well-being; for Mother Teresa to suffer a comparable loss she would have to give until she were nearly penniless.

Adults Using Adderall to Gain an Edge, Not Treat ADHD

Neuroscientists, ethicists, and general medical practitioners generally have a negative opinion of a future in which we're all popping pills to gain an edge at work.

Hearing Is Our Least Trustworthy Sense

We like to think we perceive the world just as everyone else does. That's what makes communication possible, and without a baseline reality, how would science proceed?

One Mined Asteroid Would Eclipse Britain's Whole Economy

The value locked away inside asteroids is enough to raise the world economic ceiling to unbelievable heights.

People who earn more, have more sex, and vice versa

There is an interdependent relationship among making money, having sex, and being physically healthy, according to new research published in the International Journal of Manpower.

What's After Death? People Who've Clinically Died Explain

There is no direct evidence about what proceeds human consciousness, but there are stories from people who have been pronounced clinically dead.

Robot Mimics Chefs to Prepare Five-Star Dishes at Home

By equipping chefs with sensor-fitted gloves, robots can easily learn the specific ways they prepare meals, opening the door to professionally prepared home meals.

It's Selfish to Withhold Negative Feedback

Dr. Christian Jarrett points out that neuroscience is helping us understand how negative feedback is essential to helping others improve.

New Protein Supercharges Immune System to Fight Cancer

Scientists have discovered a new protein that appears to supercharge the body's own immune system, allowing it to compete against cancerous cells in ways that were previously impossible.

Is Intelligence a Burden on Making Good Life Decisions?

Having greater intelligence can actually make you a more foolish person because intelligence breeds hubris, according to sociologists who study how intelligent people make life decisions.

Hating an Opposing Sports Team Develops a Moral Sense

The intensity of sports rivalry is justified if it helps us develop morally praiseworthy attitudes that transfer from the sporting arena into real life.

For Biggest Economic Bang, Give Middle Class a Windfall

Challenging our assumptions is difficult. And when it comes to redistributing income, all sides tend to come to the table with pretty ingrained notions of what is fair or what is good.

In an Unequal America, We Buy Our Way to Happiness

We are living through another gilded age, but unlike the late 19th century, extremely high income inequality has failed to stoke popular fervor.

Special New Zealand Honey Proven a Natural Medicine

Originating from kanuka flowers and processed naturally by bees, the resulting product has powerful antiseptic properties that have been brought to bear against the stubborn skin condition rosacea.

South Korea Determined to Revive the Woolly Mammoth

South Korean researchers are serious (and seriously working hard) to bring the woolly mammoth back to life using cloning techniques that have already produced identical copies of dogs, cows, and, famously, Dolly the sheep.

Corporate Meditation Can Promote a Workaholic Culture

Mindfulness meditation is at risk of being separated from its beneficent roots, which grounded the practice in ancient philosophical/religious systems that emphasized ascetic virtues.

Friendly, Charismatic Giraffe to Give Birth Live

The Dallas Zoo is preparing to celebrate the birth of a baby giraffe — a very special event in the life a zoo. And to share their enthusiasm with the public, a live feed has been created.

Population of the World's Non-Religious Is on the Decline

Despite the apparent rise in people with no religion, the overall percentage of non-believers is expected to decline as a share of the world's population, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Reward Disagreement for Creative, Productive Meetings

The genius of meetings at the office, and other forms of communal decision-making, is that everyone can bring their unique knowledge to bear on a specific problem.

Beards and Tattoos: New Currency in the Dating Market

Beards are badges of symbolic honor that, by expressing dominance, help men to compete for female suitors.

Springy Ankle Device Improves Walking Efficiency 7%

Biomechanical scientists have created a simple device that can increase walking efficiency, or "human gas mileage," by an average of 7 percent when worn around the ankle. 

After Germanwings Flight 9525, Can We Automate Planes?

Automation is on the rise in areas previously regarded as beyond the reach of machines.

Use Natural Conversation Locales to Build a Happier Office

Redesigning your office space can measurably improve morale as well as the flow of creative ideas, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune.