The English Wars →
But the most curious flaw in the descriptivists’ reasoning is their failure to notice that it is now they who are doing the prescribing. By the eighties, the goal of objectivity had been replaced, at least in the universities, by the postmodern view that there is no such thing as objectivity: every statement is subjective, partial, full of biases and secret messages. And so the descriptivists,...
False Fronts in the Language Wars →
All this raises an obvious question: What’s going on at The New Yorker? How could a magazine that cultivates a reputation for assiduous fact-checking publish a screed that is so filled with blunders, non sequiturs, and fanciful attributions? The article must have had something that resonated with the editors enough for them to have given it a pass. But what was it?
Your Brain on Fiction →
Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.
Seeing and Believing →
Not surprisingly, Luhrmann compares the Vineyarders’ beliefs to children’s thought processes. She discusses their views in relation to D. W. Winnicott’s theories about transitional objects. For some evangelicals, she says, God is not unlike a stuffed Snoopy.
Song of the Sea, a Cappella and Unanswered →
“The fact that this individual has been capable of existing in that harsh environment for at least these 12 years indicates there is nothing wrong with it,” she said. But she agreed that there was something poignant about the finding. “He’s saying, ‘Hey I’m out here,’ ” she said. “Well, nobody is phoning home.”
Andrew Breitbart's Legacy: Credit and Blame Where... →
*If control of the American media is what matters most, if it is the main factor in deciding presidential elections, and controlling the media narrative through some means other than argument is the key to conservative success in the future, how do you explain 1980, 1984, and 2008? How is it that Ronald Reagan won the presidency and positively cruised to re-election, even though Rush Limbaugh...
The Case Against Breast-Feeding →
What does all the evidence add up to? We have clear indications that breast-feeding helps prevent an extra incident of gastrointestinal illness in some kids—an unpleasant few days of diarrhea or vomiting, but rarely life-threatening in developed countries. We have murky correlations with a whole bunch of long-term conditions. The evidence on IQs is intriguing but not all that compelling, and at...
Why Did Kobe Go to Germany? →
Pain, of course, is a slippery phenomenon, a condition that begins in the body but unfolds in the mind. And this is why it’s impossible, at least so far, to separate the healing benefits of biologic medicine from our belief in its benefits. Because this is a treatment we want to believe in. For the first time, professional athletes have been given access to a legal therapy that promises...
A Night With the World's Most Hated Bands →
It’s hard to get inside the existential paradox of Kroeger’s life on tour: Every day, he gives interviews to journalists and radio DJs who directly ask him why no one likes his band. Every night, he plays music to thousands of enraptured superfans, many of whom love him with a ferocity that’s probably unhealthy. Every concert ends with a standing ovation; if he feels motivated,...
George Zimmerman: Prelude to a shooting →
On February 2, 2012, Zimmerman placed a call to Sanford police after spotting a young black man he recognized peering into the windows of a neighbor’s empty home, according to several friends and neighbors. “I don’t know what he’s doing. I don’t want to approach him, personally,” Zimmerman said in the call, which was recorded. The dispatcher advised him that...
Get Rich U →
“Stanford students are superb consequentialists—that is, we tend to measure the goodness of actions by their eventual results,” he wrote. “Bentham and Mill would be proud. We excel at making rational calculations of expected returns to labor and investment, which is probably why so many of us will take the exhortation to occupy Wall Street quite literally after graduation. So before making any...
Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy? →
Many explanations have been offered to make sense of the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of medical wisdom — what we are advised with confidence one year is reversed the next — but the simplest one is that it is the natural rhythm of science. An observation leads to a hypothesis. The hypothesis (last year’s advice) is tested, and it fails this year’s test, which is always the most likely outcome...
Snacks for a Fat Planet →
After five seconds in the oil, the fried chips emerge onto a conveyor belt, where high-speed cameras inspect them. If a camera detects a blemish on a chip, it sends a signal to one of the airhoses under the conveyor, and a jet of air blows the chip off onto the floor. Salt is sprinkled onto the remaining chips from overhead receptacles. Because the new salt is lighter and finer than the old salt...
A Beekeeper's Strategies to Avoid Bee-ing Stung →
3. Bees (not wasps, there is nothing you can really do about wasps because they’re predatory) will always warn you before they sting, unless you are crushing them with your body. They warn by headbutting. If a bee is bonking into you, it is not confused, it is giving you a warning to run away. If you do not heed the warning, it will then attempt to defend its family.
Sheriff Joe →
Outspoken citizens also take their chances. Last December, remarks critical of Arpaio were offered during the public-comment period at a board of supervisors meeting, and four members of the audience were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct—for clapping. Their cases are pending.
Making Real Money in Virtual Games: The Strange... →
Online gamers have sold weapons, clothes, and spells (all pixelated) for years using “black market” third-party sites. The gaming industry wants a cut of that virtual economy. So would the IRS.
The Hulk on Mark Ruffalo's Hulk →
AND THEN WE LEARN THE OBVIOUS TRUTH: HE’S ALWAYS ANGRY. AND AS SUCH, WE LEARN THAT BANNER CAN CALL OUT HIS HULK AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE. WHICH, IN THIS HULK’S OPINION, IS A WONDERFUL EVOLUTION OF THE CHARACTER. IT SPEAKS TO THE IDEA THAT OUR EMOTIONS ARE SOMETHING THAT ALWAYS PRESENT.
Teenage Brains →
So if teens think as well as adults do and recognize risk just as well, why do they take more chances? Here, as elsewhere, the problem lies less in what teens lack compared with adults than in what they have more of. Teens take more risks not because they don’t understand the dangers but because they weigh risk versus reward differently: In situations where risk can get them something they...
Maurice Sendak, Author of Splendid Nightmares,... →
“Dear Mr. Sendak,” read one, from an 8-year-old boy. “How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there.”
Concerns Beyond Just Where the Wild Things Are →
He is afraid — not of death, which is as familiar to him as a child’s teddy bear — but of not being able to finish his work: “I feel like I don’t have a lot of time left.”
Larger Than Real Life →
An actual accounting of 7-footers, domestic or global, does not exist in any reliable form. National surveys by the Center for Disease Control list no head count or percentile at that height. (Only 5% of adult American males are 6’3” or taller.) “In terms of the growth spectrum, 7 feet is simply extreme,” explains endocrinologist Shlomo Melmed, dean of the medical faculty...
The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a... →
A central problem with the U.S. economy, he told me, is finding a way to get more people to look for solutions despite these terrible odds of success. Conard’s solution is simple. Society benefits if the successful risk takers get a lot of money. For proof, he looks to the market. At a nearby table we saw three young people with plaid shirts and floppy hair. For all we know, they may have been...
Voting on bin Laden →
There has not been too much politicization of the aftermath of 9/11; there has been too little. Politicizing all of those actions and maneuvers taken once the dust in New York and at the Pentagon began to drift downward is not only appropriate; failing to do so is—has been—dangerous.
In Search of the Perfect Pencil Point →
In the old days, here at The New Yorker, when your pencil point got dull, you just tossed it aside and picked up a new one. There was an office boy who came around in the morning with a tray of freshly sharpened wooden pencils. And they were nice long ones, too—no stubs. The boy held out his tray of pencils, and you scooped up a quiver of them. It sounds like something out of a dream!
The Aristocrats →
“Game of Thrones” is not coy about the way the engine of misogyny can grind the fingers of those who try to work it in their favor. An episode two weeks ago featured a sickening sequence in which King Joffrey ordered one prostitute—a character the audience had grown to care about—to rape another. The scenario might have been scripted by Andrea Dworkin; it seemed designed not to turn viewers on...
Getting In →
Social scientists distinguish between what are known as treatment effects and selection effects. The Marine Corps, for instance, is largely a treatment-effect institution. It doesn’t have an enormous admissions office grading applicants along four separate dimensions of toughness and intelligence. It’s confident that the experience of undergoing Marine Corps basic training will turn you into a...
What Would the End of Football Look Like? →
This outcome may sound ridiculous, but the collapse of football is more likely than you might think. If recent history has shown anything, it is that observers cannot easily imagine the big changes in advance. Very few people were predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, or the rise of China as an economic power. Once you start thinking through how the status...
With Friends Like These →
Seat of Power: ‘The Passage of Power,’ Robert... →
Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States.