by Brendan P. Foht

The CRISPR technique has reignited the decades-old debate over genetic modification. Brendan P. Foht argues that genetic therapy should be used to treat and prevent disease in actual patients, whether those patients are born or unborn, and that schemes for enhancing the human race through genetic modifications — or for protecting it from genetic modifications — should not interfere with our obligations to future generations.

READ MORE McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T.

We asked three scientists to discuss some of the latest research and scholarship regarding the place of life, including human life, in the universe:

  • Sara Seager on how — and why — we search for Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars
  • Marcelo Gleiser on why the findings of physics should help ease our sense of cosmic angst
  • Luke A. Barnes on what it means to say that the universe appears “fine-tuned” for life
European Southern Observatory via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0)

Miss Marple and the Problem of

Modern Identity

by Alan Jacobs

Agatha Christie’s famous amateur sleuth uses her knowledge of human nature to discern if people really are who they say they are — one of the central problems of modernity. Alan Jacobs reflects on the differences between being known by one's neighbors and being known by the state.

READ MORE Shutterstock

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

From our archive...

Hard to Believe

by Robert Herritt

We are deluged with facts and expert opinions. How can the responsible citizen judge between them when they clash? Robert Herritt on how we know what we know, and what to do when experts disagree.


Biomedicine and Its Cultural Authority

by Joseph E. Davis

Critics sometimes accuse modern medicine of focusing too narrowly on the causes of specific maladies instead of holistically maintaining health and wellness. But, as Joseph E. Davis explains, the reductionist style of medicine and the lifestyle that goes with it are deeply connected to our cultural priorities and how we think of ourselves as autonomous individuals.


Is OPEC Dead?

by Lee Lane

At its meeting in Doha earlier this month, OPEC once again failed to reach agreement on cutting oil production. With the fracture between Saudi Arabia and Iran growing, does the oil cartel still have any power to influence prices? How will the low prices affect U.S. oil producers? And does the U.S. presidential race have any bearing on the future world oil market?


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.


Attention Deficit

by Diana Schaub

From advertising to Muzak to Facebook updates, we are bombarded by demands for our attention — a subject explored in Matthew B. Crawford’s new book The World Beyond Your Head. In this review, Diana Schaub suggests that an old approach to education can help us address the current crisis of attention.

SEE ALSO: “Virtual Reality as Moral Ideal,” an excerpt from Crawford’s book.

Pope Francis on the Environment

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

CNS photo/Paul Haring


A Reductionist History of Humankind

by John Sexton

The book Sapiens, which purports to give a “brief history of humankind,” has become an international bestseller. In this review, John Sexton points out the book’s many strange and silly claims and arguments, and asks what we lose sight of when we obsess over works of evolutionary “big history.”