Latest Ideas headlines

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Has the movement gone too far?

In revolutionary France, dissent will not be tolerated.

The scrunchie just got a rebrand.


Euphemism: ‘Hair cloud’

The scrunchie just got a rebrand.

Three Olive Martini


Innovation of the Week: ‘Stock-tails’

Mixologists are offering some unusual combinations this winter.

US President Donald Trump speaks live via video link to the annual


Uncommon Knowledge: He had us at ‘great again’

Unusual insights from the social sciences, including the political establishment, heart rates, and parenting.


Big Data: 100,000 words

Complete recitations can sometimes take six hours.


A Boston story in 50 words

Yogurt can be dangerous.

Ideas | Mark Peters

Leveling the field between trans and cis

Advocates say a world where everyone gets labeled is better than a world where only minority groups get a label.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Four ways to fix your child’s smartphone problem

Activist shareholders want Apple to make the iPhone less addictive. Here are some steps you can take right now.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 06: Rowers take to the water for an early morning training session on the Yarra River, March 6, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Rowing has been held on the Yarra River for over 150 years. Seven clubs are based in the historic boat sheds on the Alexandra Gardens, they are Banks Rowing Club, Mercantile Rowing Club ,La Trobe University Rowing Club, Melbourne Rowing Club, Melbourne University Boat Club, Yarra Yarra Rowing Club and the Richmond Rowing Club. Rowers from local private schools, elite athletes and members of the public train on the Yarra River on a daily basis from early morning to midmorning then again in the afternoonon. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)


On Second Thought: Flawed review foundations

Was it sloppy work, or bad luck?


Uncommon Knowledge: The Michelle effect

Surprising insights from the social sciences, including the former first lady’s influence on snacking.

Kameraleute stehen auf Autodächern und filmen die Rückkehr der


A Boston story in 50 words

One last glimpse of a doomed giant.

UNSPECIFIED, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 16: A member of the farm team stands with a sedated and blindfolded white rhino, before it has it's horn trimmed at the ranch of rhino breeder John Hume, on October 16, 2017 in the North West Province of South Africa. John Hume is currently the owner of around 1500 white and black rhinos, which he keeps under armed guard on his 8000 hectare property. In a bid to prevent poaching and conserve the different species of rhino, the horns of the animals are regularly trimmed, with 264 of the off-cuts recently being placed on sale at auction. The controversial decision to sell the horns was made on the basis that the illegal market creates an inflated value, while a controlled system would lower the prices and the need to poach. Mr Hume believes that the only way to ensure that the rhino does not become extinct is through farming the animals on a large scale and legalising the sale of rhino horn globally. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)


Big Data: 5,800

Countering the illegal trade in rhino horns will take a significant effort.

In this July 2013 photo provided by Matthew Pollack, his son Ben Pollack poses at a swing set under construction in Topsham, Maine. Matthew and his wife Jane Quirion are fighting against a southern Maine school district to allow their nonverbal autistic son to carry an audio-recording device at school to ensure he's being treated properly. (Jane Quirion via AP)


Ethical dilemma: Recording students

The parents of Ben Pollack, a nonverbal teenager, want him to carry an audio recorder during the school day to ensure that he is not mistreated.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Trying to look on the bright side

It’s deathly cold outside, but maybe there’s a silver lining.

This photo taken on December 4, 2017 shows people visiting the Baidu booth during the 4th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen in China's eastern Zhejiang province. The conference is held in Wuzhen from December 3 to 5. / AFP PHOTO / - / China OUT-/AFP/Getty Images


Big Data: 750 million

This could offer a big boost for Chinese companies.

Crooked River, which is primarily fed by the Opal Springs Aquifer, and is the source of the Opal Springs Water Company's unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water, in Culver, Ore., Dec. 4, 2017. On the West Coast and in other pockets around the country, many people are looking to get off the water grid, and start-ups have emerged in the last few years to deliver untreated water on demand.


Innovation of the Week: Raw water

The hunt for the natural product knows no bounds.

Broken basketball isolated on white background


Uncommon Knowledge: Bros, basketball, and business economics

Insights from the social sciences on unlikely topics.

Side view of a male mountain climber using laptop on mountain peak


Euphemism: ‘Location-independent worker’

“Digital nomad” gets an upgrade.

Dressed in a padded man's suit and straw Stetson, Big Mama Thornton grabs her harmonica as she lets loose at the Newport Jazz Festival at New York's Avery Fisher Hall, July 2, 1980 in a program devoted to the women who sing the blues. (AP Photo/Carlos Rene Perez)


A Boston story in 50 words

An introduction to the blues.

Ideas | Janelle Nanos

Stop answering your phone

Should technology follow etiquette — or vice versa?


The words of 2017

A tumultuous year, as seen through the vocabulary that we used to describe it.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

You’re probably a jerk. We all are

We all have an angel on one shoulder, and we only pretend we’re in charge.

Manny Medrano '19 displays a model of quipus knots. Quipus are knots that Incas used to record censuses, etc., and there are only 1000 left in the world. Medrano is the first name on the paper he co-wrote with Professor Gary Urton, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, that is being published in EthnoJournal. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer


Big Data: Ancient tax documents

What are these knots telling us?

Deborah Oquendo, 42, fastens the seatbelt of the car seat of her 10mo old daughter Genesis Rivera in Orlando, Florida on December 1, 2017. On September 20 powerful Maria tore across Puerto Rico, destroying homes, shattering the island's rickety power grid and phone network, and leaving its 3.4 million residents in the dark and incommunicado. Since the hurricane struck at least 212,000 people have traveled from Puerto Rico to Florida -- mainly central Florida, according to figures from the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, Big changes for Florida with mass Puerto Rican immigrationRICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images


On Second Thought: Finding the best way to protect kids

Sometimes the experts get certain things backwards.


Innovation of the Week: The Lobola Calculator

A generations-old tradition is being upended by instant messaging and electronic funds transfer.


Uncommon Knowledge: Researching the impact of milder temperatures

Also in this week’s edition: Diversity, family values, and voting data.

Boston Park Plaza Hotel's newly refurbished lobby. Photo credit: Courtesy of Boston Park Plaza -- 12plaza


A Boston story in 50 words

Inching towards a hotel theft.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Redesigned Challenge Coins for other, lesser US presidents

In keeping with the White House’s new design ethos.

Then-City Councilor Peggy Davis-Mullen ran against Mayor Thomas M. Menino in 2001 — and lost.


In Boston, is there life after challenging the mayor — and losing?

How do you measure the state of Boston politics? By whether someone can defy the mayor and live to tell about it.

Circa 1500, A troupe of mummers in animal costumes performing in a Medieval Baronial Hall at Christmas. Original Publication: From 'Christmas in Olden Times' by Walter Scott. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

When Christmas was public and profane

Medieval Christmas wasn’t all that religious.

alarm clock on the table isolated on white background.


A Boston story in 50 words

Impatient in the waiting room.


Big Data: 45 minutes

MIT researchers are looking to change the way we illuminate our lives.

Ivana Trump arrives for Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research Angel Ball 2017, at Cipriani Wall Street on October 23, 2017, in New York. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISSANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images


Euphemism: ‘Collaborator’

Some “authors” prefer “collaborator” over the more accurate “ghostwriter.”


Uncommon Knowledge: Baby boomers, you’re fired

In this week’s edition: hiring practices, parenting, and partisanship.


This digital currency has ‘no purpose,’ so of course investors love it

This company is taking opacity to a new level.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Unexpected gifts from a tough year

2017 was a bumpy ride. But there were bright spots.

FILE -- Plaza St-Hubert, a shopping area in Montreal, Dec. 29, 2016. In the latest example of Quebec's long-simmering French-language culture wars, provincial legislators unanimously passed a resolution calling for shopkeepers to stop saying ÒBonjour hiÓ when they greet customers and to say simply ÒBonjourÓ instead. (David Giral/The New York Times)

Ideas | Mark Peters

Saying goodbye to ‘bonjour hi’

A friendly greeting recently got an unfriendly reception in Quebec.

Ideas | Zachary Davis

Has secularism gone too far?

In the United States, more than a third of the millennial generation is religiously unaffiliated.

A section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska targeted for oil and natural gas drilling.

Ideas | Scott L. Montgomery

The Alaska refuge will never be the same, drilling or not

After decades of bitter struggle, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is being opened to the oil industry.

Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run prompted a restriction on assessing public figures’ mental fitness from afar. The “Goldwater rule” is under debate again.

Ideas | Sharon Begley

Does mental illness show up in tweets?

The flaws of in-person exams are no surprise to experts.

Car of accident make front bumper cracked damaged at claim the insurance company. Working car repair inspection at damaged of accident. Image with clipping path and style blur focus.


A Boston story in 50 words

A tense moment in Reading.

FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, Iran's Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade marking the 36th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran. While U.S. President Donald Trump angered Iran with his speech on refusing to re-certify the nuclear deal, Tehran won't walk away from it in retaliation. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Ideas | Thanassis Cambanis

The dangers of escalation with Iran

We’re about to witness a real-life test of an Iran policy that eschews diplomacy and embraces confrontation.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: John Boyega with fans at the European Premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the Royal Albert Hall on December 12, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

Ideas | Mark Peters

The boundless dedication of the online stan

The term offers some insight into what fandom does and doesn’t mean in the 21st century.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

About that ‘baby bust’

A response to Lyman Stone’s piece about America’s plunging birth rate.

BOSTON - OCTOBER 5: Dr. Jack Szostak attends a news conference after winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine October 5, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. Szostak, along with colleagues Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, won the prize for their work discovering telomerase, an enzyme which builds telomeres, and how it replaces DNA that has been worn off the tips of chromosomes. (Photo by Jodi Hilton/Getty Images)


On Second Thought: A welcome correction

Nobel Prize winners might be smarter than most people — but they’re not infallible.

top view of french fries on white background


Uncommon Knowledge: Do you want fries with that?

In this week’s edition: geometric patterns, partisan parents, and the introduction of the all-powerful potato.