by Lee Lane

The recent surge in oil and gas production might seem to give the United States increased leverage over authoritarian regimes that depend on oil exports. But, as Lee Lane argues, the geopolitical benefits of American oil production may have been overestimated, and the U.S. oil boom may end up bringing our chief geopolitical rivals — China and Russia — together.


READ MORE Christopher Boswell (Shutterstock)


Love Conquers All

by Jenna Silber Storey and Benjamin Storey

A number of idealistic communities popped up in nineteenth-century America, each dedicated to its own vision of freeing human beings from society’s constraints. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s months spent at one of these communities became the basis of The Blithedale Romance, his novel about how ill-conceived schemes of liberation can do more to suppress the human soul than to free it. Jenna Silber Storey and Benjamin Storey revisit Hawthorne’s tale of dashed dreams.


READ MORE Elliott Banfield


The Man Who Thought of Everything

by Algis Valiunas

Linus Pauling made pioneering discoveries in biology, physics, and chemistry, for which he was awarded his first Nobel Prize. But as Algis Valiunas writes, in some of the projects that were most important to Pauling — the anti-war activism that brought him another Nobel, and his theorizing about vitamins — the great scientist was given to naïveté and folly.


READ MORE Dave Cheng


The Ebola Gamble

by Ari N. Schulman

Can Ebola be transmitted through the air? During last fall’s outbreak, you may have heard you can only get Ebola by touching infected bodily fluids. But in a new investigation, Ari N. Schulman shows how public health officials ignored warnings about Ebola, downplayed the dangers, and pressured scientific critics — all in a misguided effort to place reassurance over protection.


See also: “Untruths We Were Told About Ebola Flickr CDC (CC)


Vaccines and Their Critics, Then and Now

by Aaron Rothstein

Recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have brought renewed attention to the critics of vaccination. Aaron Rothstein explains why vaccination is a valuable tool for individual and public health, and reveals the surprisingly long history of opposition to vaccines, so that we might better educate and persuade the critics.


READ MORE Flickr Sanofi Pasteur (CC)

The Neuroscience of Despair

by Michael W. Begun

We often think of depression as a disorder caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Not only is this idea empirically flawed, but it has drawn our attention away from the important social and psychological aspects of mental illness. Michael W. Begun shows how we got here and explains why a neurobiological understanding of depression can never be complete.

Abstract composition by Victor Hugo
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Losing Liberty in an Age of Access

by James Poulos

Americans increasingly rely on subscription services like Netflix and sharing services like Airbnb, Uber, and Zipcar, renting access to goods instead of buying them. While some pundits have heralded the so-called sharing economy, James Poulos asks whether freedom can flourish when access no longer involves ownership.


READ MORE Flickr Ted Eytan (CC)

From our archive...

Pope Francis on the Environment

Essays on the moral, political, and economic implications of the encyclical Laudato Si'

The X-Files and the Demon-Haunted World

by Ari N. Schulman

Why was The X-Files one of the most popular television shows of the 1990s? As Ari N. Schulman explains, the detective series lurched between science fiction and the paranormal, toying with the way modern science understands itself, inverting the relationship between skepticism and belief.


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by Gilbert Meilaender

The most thoughtful critiques of radical enhancement focus on the giftedness of human nature or on the dangers of hubris. Gilbert Meilaender turns to theology to offer another kind of critique — one grounded in the Christian understanding of redemption.

READ MORE Shutterstock

Philanthropy in Science, Technology, and Medicine


Over its long history, American philanthropy has proven indispensable to science, technology, and medicine. Here, excerpted from the new Almanac of American Philanthropy, are ten tales of strategic philanthropy contributing to human welfare and knowledge.


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Virtual Reality as Moral Ideal

by Matthew B. Crawford

The physical world resists our will. Matthew B. Crawford considers how we try to insulate ourselves from the limitations and frustrations of physicality — but thereby make ourselves more fragile and, ironically, more pliable to the wills of others.


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Correlation, Causation, and Confusion

by Nick Barrowman

“Correlation,” as the saying goes, “does not imply causation.” But if you want to understand the statistics that appear everywhere in our daily lives — in sports reporting, in weather forecasts, and of course in politics and medicine — it helps to know just what correlation does imply. Nick Barrowman explains why some disciples of “big data” think causation is passé, and why they’re wrong.


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The Humble Scientist

by Chase W. Nelson

When the biologist Austin Hughes passed away unexpectedly last year, he left behind an intellectual record that included hundreds of scientific papers and several provocative popular essays — including in this journal. His student Chase W. Nelson reflects on Hughes's character and career, and on his gift for looking beyond science for a greater picture of the whole of life.


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Reviews


The Politics of Digital Shaming
Rita Koganzon on Internet mobs and their outrage at everyday speech


Socially Just Science
Brendan P. Foht on politically correcting science and scientifically correcting politics


Competing to Conform
James Poulos on Peter Thiel’s philosophy of supernerds


Faith, Fact, and False Dichotomies
Austin L. Hughes on the lazy atheism in Jerry Coyne’s new book

The Unknown Newton

Leading scholars on his religion, alchemy, cosmology, and more

  • Introduction by the editors
  • Rob Iliffe on Newton's unorthodox theology and his project to restore Christianity
  • William R. Newman asks whether Newton truly was “the last of the magicians”
  • Stephen D. Snobelen on physics, prophecy, and the myth of Newton's clockwork universe
  • Andrew Janiak on reconciling natural philosophy with biblical literalism
  • Sarah Dry on the unpublished manuscripts and their author's changing image


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Illustration by Patrick Arrasmith

Practicing Medicine

Modernity and Our American Heresies

by Peter Augustine Lawler

Critics of America have often argued that the country is too individualistic and materialistic, doomed to a kind of techno-obsessive liberal nihilism. But, as Peter Lawler explains, the American story is really a tale of constant compromise between our Lockean and Puritan tendencies, accommodating the need for both freedom and community.


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Image: The Apostle (Butcher's Run Films, 1997)