When the media report on a new diet that supposedly helps people lose weight once and for all, I wonder, "Does anyone still believe these claims, given the dismal track record of diets?" I have the same reaction to new treatments for psychological disorders, such as "cybertherapy." In a long, lavishly illustrated article in The New York Times , Benedict Carey reported that psychotherapists are harnessing virtual reality for treating social anxiety disorder, alcoholism, agoraphobia, gambling addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of other mental ailments.
The approach of Thanksgiving, that quintessential American holiday, has me brooding over recent scientific portrayals of Native Americans as bellicose brutes.
To celebrate the ends of years, decades and other milestones, science publications often churn out "Whither science?" predictions. Just last week, The New York Times Science Times section celebrated its, um, 32nd birthday with a special issue on "What's next in science".
Why war? Darwinian explanations, such as the popular "demonic males" theory of Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham, are clearly insufficient.
Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. Or so religious conservatives would have us believe. But liberalism is in our genes. Or so researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard University would have us believe.
Thirty-two years after her death, the anthropologist Margaret Mead remains a favorite whipping girl for ideologues of all stripes. Did you know that she cooked up the global-warming "hoax"?
The passing of the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot has triggered in me a wave of nostalgia for the 1980s, when Mandelbrot and other researchers seemed to be creating a scientific revolution.
Be wary of the righteous rationalist: We should reject Sam Harris's claim that science can be a moral guidepost
Say what you will about Sam Harris, the man's got guts. In The End of Faith (W. W. Norton, 2005) and Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf, 2006), Harris, a neuroscientist, rejects the notion that science and religion can coexist.
When soldiers commit atrocities, we must ask why. The question is being raised once again by reports that a handful of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan carried out premeditated killings—murders—of Afghan civilians.
Psychedelics are back! As readers of Scientific American know, scientists have recently reported that psychedelics show promise for treating disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety in terminal cancer patients.
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