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.


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.

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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

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.

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Confronting the Technological Society

by Samuel Matlack

In 1954, a Frenchman named Jacques Ellul penned one of the most bracing twentieth-century critiques of technology. Translated into English in 1964, The Technological Society was commended by the likes of Aldous Huxley and Robert K. Merton but written off by others as little more than a lamentation of modernity. Samuel Matlack revisits Ellul’s perplexing book and explains why it is still relevant today.

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The Optimistic Science of Leibniz

by Marc E. Bobro

When Leibniz is remembered at all today, it is usually for inventing the calculus or for calling this “the best of all possible worlds” — a phrase that Voltaire famously scorned. Marc E. Bobro argues that Leibniz’s optimism is best understood in the context of his grand project to unify science, religion, and pretty much everything else.

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From our archive...

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.

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Untruths We Were Told about Ebola

by Ari N. Schulman

During the recent Ebola outbreak, public health officials and journalists made a number of pronouncements with only tenuous relation to the available science. One year later, it is worth cataloguing some of the most pervasive and misleading claims.


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.


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.


First Thoughts on Germline Engineering

For the first time in history, scientists have genetically modified human embryos. New Atlantis assistant editor Brendan P. Foht explains why this technique is morally troubling, and puts it in the context of other bioethical issues.


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.


In Defense of Prejudice, Sort of

by Ari N. Schulman

Prejudice is the Enlightenment’s most detested foe, the vampire that withers in the light of Reason. But an ambitious new book argues that prejudice, properly understood, is a prerequisite for lucid thinking. In this review, Ari N. Schulman explains why our modern ideal of perfect rationality is irrational.


Regarding Life at the Beginning

by Gilbert Meilaender

Unborn children are hidden from our view and totally dependent on us. Yet the debate over abortion usually treats the human community as made up only of free subjects that can enter into mutual dialogue or contractual relations. Gilbert Meilaender reviews a new book that offers a phenomenological critique of the abortion debate.

Flickr Jerry Lai (CC)

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In Remembrance of Austin L. Hughes

The New Atlantis notes with sadness the passing of Austin L. Hughes. A great believer in the humility of the scientific calling, he was the author of widely read New Atlantis essays on scientism. His most recent article for us was “Faith, Fact, and False Dichotomies” (Spring 2015).

Hughes was Carolina Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina, and he was a member of the Witherspoon Council on Ethics and the Integrity of Science. R.I.P.


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

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.


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