Lauren O'Connor

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A Link Between Climate Change and ISIS Isn’t Crazy

Conservatives mock the Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, but there’s evidence of a connection between drought and the Syrian civil war.<p>It’s the dog days of summer for U.S. presidential candidates, when Donald Trump is dominating the airwaves and candidates who seem to be losing …

Political Science

Hunting for Germs in an Ancient Graveyard

Researchers hope the discovery of a mass cholera burial pit will allow them to find and sequence the DNA of the bacteria that killed its inhabitants.<p>The third cholera pandemic in recorded history—and the deadliest—began in India sometime in the mid-1800s, making its way across Asia, Europe, Africa, …

Anthropology

I get it – you’re an atheist. You should still capitalize “God”

Using a lowercase “God” is like Fox News hacks saying “Democrat Party.” It shows dumb disrespect to others, grammar<p>In a world wracked by war, climate change and economic inequality, this may seem a trivial point. In fact, it almost certainly is. And in a “new atheism” debate characterized by mutual …

Faith

The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture

By studying the immune systems of plants, they've developed a technique that eliminates the need for chemicals.<p>“In the Second World War,” Samuel Zook began, “my ancestors were conscientious objectors because we don’t believe in combat.” The Amish farmer paused a moment to inspect a mottled leaf on …

How to Write a Cover Letter, According to Great Artists

For starters, boast about your fortress-destroying skills.<p>Selling yourself often feels like a grotesque act. So job applicants’ cover letters seem unlikely to contain much great prose. Instead, we tend to fill the page with false notes and empty phrases. (“I believe my skills make me the ideal …

ISIS, water scarcity: Is climate change destabilizing Iraq?

This winter was not a good one for farmers in the Fertile Crescent.<p>A punishing drought hit most of Syria and northern Iraq during what’s normally the …

Shooting Pills at Bipolar Disorder

A third of patients who go to the hospital for bipolar I disorder are on four (or more) psychiatric medications—despite a lack of evidence that's a good idea. This highlights the complexity of the disease and the need for more science.<p>4.4 percent of the U.S. has bipolar disorder, as best we know. …

How to Not Try

Trying too hard can be counterproductive and unattractive. Use your brain's cognitive control regions to shut down your brain's cognitive control regions.<p>Trying hasn't gone out of style. It was never in style. Cool is in style, and cool means moving through the world at once effortlessly and …

How the Mind Rationalizes Homophobia

It's not easy to justify gut feelings with logical arguments. But that doesn't stop people from trying—in the NFL, in state legislatures, and beyond.<p>For gays and their allies—who now make up a majority of Americans — the past year has been a time of heartening election results and Supreme Court …

'Jane Austen, Game Theorist' by Michael Suk-Young Chwe Is a Joke

Proust was a neuroscientist. Jane Austen was a game theorist. Dickens was a gastroenterologist. That’s the latest gambit in the brave new world of …

It Is Expensive to Be Poor

Minimum-wage jobs are physically demanding, have unpredictable schedules, and pay so meagerly that workers can't save up enough to move on.<p>Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a move that was unprecedented at the time and remains unmatched by succeeding administrations. He announced a …

Meet the poverty liars: GOP peddles more garbage in war on the poor

Struggling to project “compassion,” Republicans revive Reagan’s destructive myths about how to help the poor<p>As we observe the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson declaring the “War on Poverty” this week, it’s worth remembering the way Ronald Reagan wrote its history, and its epitaph, with a soothing …