Columns

Mind, Body, or Both? The Experience of Gender Identity.

Some people have argued for an innate, biological basis for gender, whether it is physiological, neuroanatomical or hormonal. Others say it’s purely a product of the way we’re socialized, and that we learn to be masculine or feminine. But in many important ways, it appears that both can be true.

The Invisible Women of Color

In a new analysis of the imagery found in introductory criminology textbooks, men and white people were found to be heavily over-represented. Men of color are the most likely to be portrayed as criminals, while most of the victims shown are white women. And all of this has changed little over 20 years.

What I Left Out: Sharkpedo?

Under a secret Navy-funded undertaking known as “Project Headgear,” U.S. scientists attempted to use sharks as bomb delivery systems. Strapping them with explosives and using electric shocks to steer them towards enemy targets, everything seemed to be working — except for of course, the sharks.

Putting a Price on Life

In cases of false imprisonment or wrongful death, the loss to the victim and their families encompasses a lot more than forgone wages. Many economists reject simple cost-benefit analyses and say it’s impossible to determine how much to compensate someone for the freedom and happiness they’ve lost.

On the Body as Machine

The American way of thinking of the body as a machine and the brain as a computer has led to a militaristic approach to medicine and an over simplification of the mind’s complex abilities. These metaphors do not control our thoughts, but they can set boundaries around the way we think about healthcare.

The Calculus of Criminal Risk

So-called “algorithmic” risk evaluation tools are now common in the American criminal justice system, but a growing number of experts — many of whom support the use of such tools in theory — suggest that they nonetheless have flaws and biases that aren’t always well understood by the people using them.

Grandfather Clocks and the Big Bang

Why do the hands of a grandfather clock move forward, but not backwards? The culprit is entropy — the quantity that measures the disorder or randomness of physical systems. When the universe began 14 billion years ago, entropy was extremely low. But it increases as time passes, keeping time moving forward.

Crime Despite Punishment

Real people don’t usually consider what type of punishment they’ll receive before they rob somebody. And decades of research on the effects of deterrence-based punishments, including mandatory sentencing and the death penalty, have failed to prove that they do anything to reduce crime.

Right But Wrong

A recent foray into epigenetics by Pulitzer-prizewinning writer and physician Siddhartha Mukherjee has outraged experts in the field, who suggest he left out crucial details, or oversimplified to the point of error. In response: Mukherjee has invoked the science writer’s lament: Not enough space.

Without Fear or Favor, But Maybe an Industry Partner

Can news outlets like Scientific American, a respected — even revered — source of science news, maintain the appearance of impartiality while accepting checks from companies they cover? And should respected journalists lend their names and reputations to such conferences by participating on the panels?

The Unstudied Scars of Civil Rights Resistance

One might expect to find a wealth of studies examining the long-term physical and mental impacts of oppression and violence on Civil Rights-era veterans. Turns out, though, that those studies don’t really exist — though as more people of color have entered the sciences, that’s starting to change.

Top