Virtues of a Politician?

In tribal society Kings earned their right to rulership by their Virtue.


Do politicians have virtues today?

Does it matter?

Who do we usually end up voting for?

The unusual way magic mushrooms evolved

It's got more to do with sending insects on terrifying trips than it does making Phish sound good.

Surprising Science
  • Fungi species that produce psilocybin—the main hallucinogenic ingredient in "magic" mushrooms—aren't closely related to one another.
  • Researchers have discovered that the way these fungi independently gained the ability to produce psilocybin is because of horizontal gene transfer.
  • Based on how uncommon horizontal gene transfer is in mushroom-producing fungi and the types of fungi that produce psilocybin, it seems likely that the hallucinogenic chemical is meant to be scrambled the brains of insects competing with fungi for food.
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(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The minimum wage debate rages on
  • The same study authors in 2017 famously argued that raising the wage to $15/hr. in Seattle and Tacoma actually cost jobs
  • This study says something else, though study authors are quick to say they don't necessarily contradict each other. Ummm ...
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Calling all big thinkers!

  • Tell us a little bit about where you find Big Think's videos, articles, and podcasts.
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White House slams socialism in new report

The 72-page report makes a case against modern policy proposals like "Medicare for All" and free college tuition.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The report comes from the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), which is run by professional economists.
  • It attempts to make direct connections between modern-day progressives and past socialist figures like Stalin and Mao.
  • The report comes in the wake of other explicitly anti-socialist sentiments expressed by the Trump administration.
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Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman on U.S. Supreme Court, has dementia

Her husband died in 2009 of the disease.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • She was a deciding vote on a number of cases that came before the court.
  • Watch her interview from 2015 about her upbringing and desire to see more women in all parts of government.
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Why the college dropout myth can hurt your prospects

The road from college dropout to billionaire is paved with an overwhelming amount of failures along the way.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Personal Growth
  • Sensational news stories and anecdotes about people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates would have you believe that quitting school is the answer.
  • Many of these dropouts were already attending elite universities and either had incredible family connections or other professional backing.
  • College dropouts make up a slim minority of the world's richest and most powerful.
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Helping others improves your mood in two different ways

Want to feel better? Try helping others, but your motivation matters.

(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mind & Brain
  • A meta-analysis of studies on altruism reveals that giving of any kind makes us feel good, but that our brain knows if we are being altruistic or are looking for a reward.
  • This is the first study to separate findings on the brain's response to giving based on motivation.
  • This has implications for how to best reward those who help you, as misjudging their motivations may have negative effects.
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For girls, video games are a gateway to STEM degrees

Turns out those violent video games might be a blessing in disguise.

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Culture & Religion
  • Looking at data in the U.K. suggests that the more girls play video games, the greater the chances they'll pursue a STEM degree, regardless of what kind of game they play.
  • Currently, there is a dearth of women taking up STEM degrees.
  • Although it isn't clear whether there is a causal relationship here, encouraging girls to play more video games may also encourage them to study STEM subjects.
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