Variables

 
Reported features, essays, op-eds, columns, and reviews.

Birth Control for Bambi

While some towns recruit hunters to keep deer populations down, Hastings-on-Hudson, a community 15 miles north of New York City, is experimenting with the gentler approach of administering birth control. The success of the effort won’t be known for years, but other towns are already showing interest.

The Dubious Promise of Rape Prevention Technology

Not since the chastity belt, it seems, has there been so much interest in technology to prevent sexual violence. But are devices like alarm bracelets and serrated female condoms really effective? And what do they tell us about society’s response to the pervasive problem of sexual violence?

Excerpt: ‘One in a Billion’

In this excerpt from their new book, “One in a Billion” — which is based on their 2010 Pulitzer prizewinning series for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — reporters Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher reveal how doctors set about understanding the genetic origins of a 4-year-old boy’s rare immune disorder — and eventually saving his life.

Flying Blind Into a Storm of Resistance

While bacteria have evolved to be increasingly resistant to antibiotics, the hit-or-miss way doctors prescribe them has largely remained the same. This educated guessing-game contributes to 100,000 U.S. deaths from hospital-acquired infections every year, many of which could be prevented by adopting more advanced testing techniques.

Know This First: Risk Perception Is Always Irrational.

We can’t make risk perception perfectly rational. We can’t intellectually overpower the emotions that our subconscious cognitive system relies on. We can, however, start to close the risk perception gap and minimize its dangers by applying what we’ve learned about why it occurs.

Excerpt: The Banality of Eugenics

From 1932 to 1944, an Illinois-trained anthropologist conspired with the most prominent leader of the American eugenics movement to take body measurements of black children in Alabama. They ranged from the prosaic (weight and height) to the esoteric (the depth of ear pits). The goal: Creating a standard for racial typology.

The Root From Issyk-Kul Revisited

When renowned oncologist Dr. Vincent DeVita Jr. examined Tommy for the first time, his heart sank. Tommy had advanced cancer and his prospects were not good. So when Tommy and his wife asked DeVita to try a Russian folk remedy passed down from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn himself, DeVita acquiesced. “The truth is, you never know what might work,” DeVita thought.

The Replication Crisis Is My Crisis

Sometimes I wonder if I should be fixing myself more to drink. You see, I am a social psychologist by training — a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto — and my chosen profession is coming unglued.

Modern Life and Its Diseases: The Light Connection

From shift work in brightly-lit buildings to late evenings spent staring at a screen, routine exposure to artificial light is associated not just with psychiatric disorders, but with certain cancers. Unlocking the biological mechanisms that respond to artificial light is one of the great challenges facing scientists today.

How Scientists Can Win the War(s) on Science

The reason science is drawn into ideological fights in the first place is that advocates want to be seen as having science on their side. And while these battles can make researchers feel like collateral damage, they must accept the fact that they can’t stop them from happening.

Rethinking the Rules for Police Interrogations

A growing body of research suggests that standard police interrogation techniques can contribute to false confessions. When these tools are used on people who are prone to confessing falsely — like children or the intellectually disabled — the results can be disastrous, and the law does not protect them.

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