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The five universal laws of human stupidity

In 1976, a professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley published an essay outlining the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as humanity’s greatest existential threat: Stupidity.<p>Stupid people, Carlo M. Cipolla explained, share several identifying traits: they are …

University of California

Mary Magdalene: why do people want to believe she was a sinner and prostitute?

Presented in the New Testament gospels as a mourner at the Crucifixion of Christ and witness to his resurrection, Mary Magdalene has for more than …

Mary Magdalene

From Maus to Tamara Drewe: the 10 graphic novels everyone should read

The recent hoo-ha about the Man Booker prize’s longlisting of a graphic novel for the first time, the chilling, understated Sabrina by Nick Drnaso, may have piqued your interest in exploring this ever-expanding medium further, or perhaps for the first time. Not everyone has grown up reading comics …

Graphic Novels

How To Use Kanban To Become Insanely Productive: A Short Guide

Are you searching for the perfect productivity system?<p>First the bad news: It doesn’t exist. You’re going to have to do the work no matter what system you use.<p>Now the good news: Kanban is an easy-to-use and -learn system that can help avoid feeling overwhelmed by those endless To Do lists.<p>Let’s dive …

Project Management

The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature

New findings are fueling an old suspicion that fundamental particles and forces spring from strange eight-part numbers called “octonions.”

Physics

The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it | Brett Scott

Digital systems may be ‘convenient', but they often fail. Cash, on the other hand, does not crash<p>All over the western world banks are shutting down cash machines and branches. They are trying to push you into using their digital payments and digital banking infrastructure. Just like Google wants …

Banking

10 complicated but useful English words you should add to your vocabulary immediately

We’re all guilty of using a thesaurus to find complicated words to use to sound smarter. Unfortunately this often backfires because we either don’t …

Language

A debate over plant consciousness is forcing us to confront the limitations of the human mind

The inner life of plants arouses the passions of even the mildest-mannered naturalists. A debate over plant consciousness and intelligence has raged in scientific circles for well over a century—at least since Charles Darwin observed in 1880 that stressed-out flora can’t rest.<p>There’s no doubt that …

Consciousness

Octopuses are not aliens, but boy are they a bunch of beautiful weirdos

A new paper raises an old, contentious idea.<p>We have to stop taking away Mother Nature’s achievements. Every time a creature is quirky or bizarre people say that it <i>must</i> be an alien, when the reality is that evolution is capable of creating some of the strangest, creepiest organisms you could ever …

This physicist’s ideas of time will blow your mind

Time feels real to people. But it doesn’t even exist, according to quantum physics. “There is no time variable in the fundamental equations that describe the world,” theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli tells Quartz.<p>If you met him socially, Rovelli wouldn’t assault you with abstractions and math to …

Equations

Why France Lost Seven Years' War

France and England were traditional enemies. In North America alone they have fought each other in four different wars. But it was not until the …

How to understand Stephen Hawking's final paper. Or at least try

It all started with a Big Bang. But then what?<p>Renowned theoretical astrophysicist Stephen Hawking had been trying to answer that and other questions …

11 Surprising Signs That You May Be Way Smarter Than Most People

For one thing, if you're a musician, you're already ahead of the game.<p>If you've been called smart or intelligent your whole life, it may be for any of the reasons listed below. That's according to science, of course.<p>And if the verdict is still out on whether you're truly smart or not, this may just …

Capitalism is unfolding exactly as Karl Marx predicted

One hundred and sixty years ago, at a time when the light bulb was not yet invented, Karl Marx predicted that robots would replace humans in the workplace.<p>“[O]nce adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labor passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the …

Karl Marx

7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day

Our understanding of Earth — and how we’re changing it — just keeps expanding.<p>Earth Day turned 48 on Sunday, April 22, and Google celebrated it with a Google Doodle of conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, who nudged us in a video to “do our part for this beautiful planet.”<p>When Sen. Gaylord Nelson …

Hurricane Maria

Mystery of sea nomads' amazing ability to freedive is solved

The secret behind the ability of a group of “sea nomads” in Southeast Asia to hold their breath for extraordinary periods of time while freediving to hunt fish has finally been revealed – and it’s down to evolution.<p>The Bajau people are able to dive tens of metres underwater with no conventional …

Biology

Carl Sagan on Mystery, Why Common Sense Blinds Us to the Universe, and How to Live with the Unknown

“We are bathing in mystery and confusion on many subjects, and I think that will always be our destiny. The universe will always be much richer than our ability to understand it.”<p>In our recent <i>On Being</i> conversation, NASA astrophysicist and exoplanet researcher Natalie Batalha said something that …

How blockchain will disrupt Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook

In the eyes of “experts,” when it comes to blockchain, there is often no middle ground — it will either be boom or bust, nothing in between.<p>I for one have become a big proponent of blockchain technology, especially the crypto-economics used to jumpstart powerful network effects.<p>But with so many …

How Haiti became poor

In case you missed it, the President of the United States called Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries “shitholes,” then pretended like he didn’t …

The 7 Loveliest Children’s Books of 2017

Profound and poetic illustrated celebrations of solitude, self-possession, friendship, and our place in the cosmos.<p><i>“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time,”</i> <i>Charlotte’s Web</i> author E.B. White asserted. <i>“You have to write up, not down.”</i> A generation later, Maurice Sendak scoffed …

How humans might outlive Earth, the sun...and even the universe

It all starts with a little planet-hopping!<p>Nuclear war. Runaway climate change. A global pandemic. Today our world faces all manner of existential threats. But scary possibilities like these are nothing compared to what astronomers say lies in store for Earth. Our planet’s ultimate destiny is to be …

Universe

How to Train Yourself to Think Differently and Permanently Rewire Your Brain, According to Science

It's not about thinking positively. It's about learning how to think realistically.<p>The conversations you have with yourself have a direct impact on how you feel and how you behave. If your self-talk is filled with self-doubt, harsh criticism, and catastrophic predictions, you'll struggle to reach …

John Quincy Adams on Efficiency vs. Effectiveness, the Proper Aim of Ambition, and His Daily Routine

“The spark from Heaven is given to few — It is not to be obtained by intreaty or by toil.”<p><i>“Those who work much do not work hard,”</i> Henry David Thoreau observed in his prescient meditation on the myth of productivity and the measure of meaningful labor a century before the dawn of the cult of …

Three Ways to Instantly Improve Your Parenting

Wish you could be a better parent but not sure where to start? Here are three tips that can instantly improve your role as mom or dad.<p>One day during high school, my English teacher announced that "one can never experience true guilt until becoming a parent". I cannot imagine why this statement …

A new theory promises to unlock your body’s full potential—and is actually scientifically sound

Today tens of thousands of people are discovering that the environment contains hidden tools for hacking the nervous system. But no matter what they might be able to accomplish, they’re not superhuman—the fortitude they find comes from within the body itself. When they forego a few creature …

Humanity

Sleep Demons: Bill Hayes on REM, the Poetics of Yawns, and Maurice Sendak’s Antidote to Insomnia

“Sleep acts … more like an emotion than a bodily function. As with desire, it resists pursuit. Sleep must come find you.”<p>We spend — or are biologically supposed to spend — a third of our lives in sleep, yet it remains a state we neither fully understand nor can bend to our will. A central cog in …

Literature

The Story Behind Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and the Poet’s Own Stirring Reading of His Masterpiece

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”<p><i>“Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,”</i> Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating what poetry does. <i>“Insofar as poetry has a social function it is to awaken sleepers by other means than shock,”</i> …

Literature

How The Anthropic Principle Became The Most Abused Idea In Science

The Universe has the fundamental laws that we observe it to have. Also, we exist, and are made of the things we’re made of, obeying those same fundamental laws. And therefore, we can construct two very simple statements that would be very difficult to argue against:<p>We must be prepared to take …

Universe

Did This Medieval African Empire Invent Human Rights?

We usually think of the Magna Carta as the first document to encapsulate any sort of human rights. However, the "Kurukan Fuga Charter" also known as …

Ancient History