Talking politics: A Thanksgiving guide to divisive conversations

A guide to keep conflicts from flaring up while you pass your uncle the pumpkin pie.

  • As American families gather around the table for Thanksgiving, there's no guarantee that everyone will have the same views when it comes to politics. This means that there's a lot of potential for conflicts to blow up as we pass one another the pumpkin pie.
  • The best approach is to not shy away from important conversations — yes, talk about politics. However, try to do so in a way that preferences understanding. In other words, instead of trying to change their position — as you beat them over the head with a drumstick — try to understand where they're coming from.
  • Chances are, just by asking them questions you will learn something new that you haven't considered before. That alone, intellectual humility, is something to cherish this holiday season.

Top-down power: Hierarchies thrive on the internet

The internet was built to resist an Orwellian future. Now it's being weaponized.

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  • Research shows hierarchical groups are more likely to use the internet as a platform.
  • This might be counterintuitive, as the original rise of the internet coincided with events like the toppling of top-down structures.
  • Despite the strong belief that the internet is horizontal, these hierarchical systems achieve high levels of online participation.
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10 great physics courses you can take online right now, for free

Here are 10 physics courses you can take now with some of the best experts in the world.

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Surprising Science
  • You can find numerous physics courses currently available online for free.
  • Courses are taught by instructors with amazing credits like Nobel Prizes and field-defining work.
  • Topics range from introductory to Einstein's theory of relativity, particle physics, dark energy, quantum mechanics, and more.
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This nerd fight could wreck or cure our way of life

It's economists vs. climate scientists in this facet of the climate change debate.

Illustration by Julia Suits, author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions, and The New Yorker cartoonist.
Surprising Science
  • What climate scientists have called a Hothouse Earth emergency, has been called "optimal" by a leading economist.
  • That optimal scenario is based on "the most unrealistic and dangerous assumption in the history of economics."
  • Leading scientists warn strongly against the methods that economists use. "No amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach."
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