Latest Ideas headlines

US actor Brad Pitt poses for photographers after arriving to attend the UK premiere of the film 'Allied' in Leicester Square, central London on November 21, 2016. / AFP / Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Uncommon Knowledge

Are good-looking people naturally more fickle?

Bias, good looks, and weight discrimination in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

In this photo taken Oct. 30, 2012, Bruce Sherry, a contract engineer at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, manually programs a DEC PDP-10 computer from the early 1970s next to a photograph of Microsoft co-founders Paul Allen, seated, and Bill Gates, standing at Allen's left, working on a teletype machine. Allen has just opened the Living Computer Museum, which features working models of old computers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


A Boston story in 50 words

The computers have a message.


Hackers in your brain, ‘Trump and Dump,’ and more

Big ideas in little bits, curated by the Ideas team.

Ideas | A.J.B. LANE

Alternative presidential facts

Just in time for Alternative Presidents’ Day.

Ideas | Martha Bayles

Will the media be crushed?

If liberal democracy stops working, no one should expect the press alone to fix it.

Ideas | Matthew Hutson

I’ll have what you’re inventing

Researchers confirm what marketers only surmised: Consumers like products developed by other consumers.

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Grady Jarrett #97 of the Atlanta Falcons sacks Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Uncommon Knowledge

It’s not all in your head

Concussions, demons, and thought patterns in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Red rose isolated on white background.


A Boston story in 50 words

Romance on Storrow Drive.

Posters were distributed in the Women’s Municipal League Bulletin.

Ideas | Ray Cavanaugh

When dead rodents enlivened Boston’s civic spirit

A century ago, Rat Day embodied Boston’s faith in concerted action for public benefit.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Valentines for fraught times

Some Valentines for the politicians in all our lives.

Presidential candidate Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte speaks to supporters during an election campaign rally ahead of the presidential and vice presidential elections in Manila on May 7, 2016. Mass murder advocate Rodrigo Duterte heads into May 7's final rallies of an extraordinary Philippine presidential campaign as the shock favourite, but with rivals still having a chance to counter his profanity-laced populist tirades. / AFP / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)


The perils of elected strongmen

The brash president of the Philippines is a harbinger of the future.


Is day care impossible?

When the economy needs parents to work, should government help pay to take care of their kids?

Mexican Farm workers harvest lettuce in a field outside of Brawley, California, in the Imperial Valley, on January 31, 2017. Many of the farm workers expressed fears that they would not be able to continue working in the United States under the President Trump's administration. / AFP PHOTO / Sandy HuffakerSANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images

IDEAS | Sydney Giacalone and Julian Agyeman

Trump spills the beans on who grows Americans’ food

Trump’s anti-immigration stance exposes an open secret about who grows our food.


How to be invisible

Only magicians could make things vanish — until these researchers applied the basic principles of light.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Why we should free violent criminals

Everything you know about criminal justice reform is wrong.

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness spoke to reporters in December 2014 in London. McGuinness stepped down last month.

Ideas | Kevin Cullen

The ‘butcher’ who became a peacemaker

Martin McGuinness stands out because people who once considered him evil decided to trust him.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

President Evil

Is it a horror movie? Or is it real life?

Uncommon Knowledge

Gestures for success?

Complaints, emails, and casual sex in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Charles Street October 30, 1968 Photo by Bob Dean AUGUSTSTRANGLER Boston Globe Staff photo


A Boston story in 50 words

A walk with the in-laws.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs an autograph for a supporter after speaking at a campaign rally at West Chester University, Monday, April 25, 2016, in West Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Trump’s signature is ‘horrifying,’ but should you care?

Can we learn anything from studying handwriting?


A Boston story in 50 words

A 2-year-old on the run.

Ideas | Marcela García

Can cellphones stop violence?

In Kenya, the cellphone proved mightier than the sword.

Ideas | Rob Walker

The end of manly labor

When economic reality collides with the male ego.

Uncommon Knowledge

Don’t hold back on your ambition

Women in MBA programs, Champagne grapes, and hypocrites in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Blue ripped water in swimming pool


How depression relates to childhood trauma

Daphne Merkin excavates her own past and those of her parents, in search of a cause for her depression.

A B/W conceptual image of a business man with his fingers crossed behind his back.; Shutterstock ID 78827680; PO: oped

The Word

‘Alternative facts’ — and other helpful terms for political lies

Politicians have been euphemizing their lies for a long time, and we have the jargon to prove it.


These scientists are trying to erase memories of fear

Scientists wanted to see if they could erase fear memories in adult mice.

A Boston story in 50 words

A story about the circus at the old Boston Garden.

Opinion | Stephen Kinzer

How Boston fought the empire

When the United States turned to foreign conquest, the cradle of liberty rebelled.

Uncommon Knowledge

In search of a mellow president

College athletes, gambling, and sacred values in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Ideas | Jerold S. Kayden

At Trump Tower, the little bench that could

Not just furniture, but a monument to the push and pull between public and private interests.

The Word

Discourse markers are, like, important

Nothing sinks a public speaker quicker than an overdose of ums and uhs.

Ideas | A.J.B. LANE

How Russia hacks our politics

As revealed by recent intelligence reports, and explained by a cartoon.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

An address with a perfectly Trumpian tone

It was a speech that couldn’t have broken more sharply with the past administration both in style and substance.

Washington Street in Boston was buried in snow on Feb. 6, 1978. The Blizzard of ‘78 dropped 27.1 inches of snow on the city.

A Boston story in 50 words

This one involves the Blizzard of ‘78.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Has pot lost its cool?

Illegality was part of marijuana’s rebel appeal. So what happens now?

Puzzled | Aloni Cohen, Sunoo Park and Adam Sealfon

Can you even find this puzzle?

In secret communications, as in life, you don’t always get a clear set of instructions.

Fresh raw Clam close up on white


What sizes and shapes say about seashells

Humans may have reversed the way the ocean and the atmosphere naturally interact.


A dress for the occasion

The princess gets some help preparing for the Inauguration.

Uncommon Knowledge

Grin and bear it

Harvard experiments, parents’ education choices, and fake smiles.

Ideas | Kovie Biakolo

Brain drain, brain waste — immigration policy gone wrong

Immigrants are welcome only up to a point.


Coming in on a high note

The National Cannabis Industry Association held its “Cannabis Caucus” in Cambridge.

A supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump hoists a poster during an election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 8, 2016. Billionaire populist Donald Trump was poised for a possible shock victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's historic US presidential election, as a string of swing state victories for the Republican jolted world markets and stunned her supporters. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ideas | David M. Shribman

Can the white working class lead?

There is a new identity group in American life. It’s the white working class.

Ideas | Adam Tanner

Patient power through records

The rapid adoption of electronic medical records hasn’t proved the cure-all that tech evangelists promised.

Sarah Obama, step-grandmother to USA's President elect, Barak Obama, speaks to journalists flanked by friends and members of her family on November 7, 2012 in the hamlet of Kogelo in western Kenya during a press conference that followed media-anouncements of Obama's apparent victory. President Barack Obama swept to a emphatic re-election win over Mitt Romney on November 6, 2012 forging new history by transcending a dragging economy and the stifling unemployment which haunted his first term. AFP PHOTO / Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

IDEAS | Tonny Onyulo

Kenyans will be sad to see Obama’s presidency end

Most Kogelo residents are thankful for the nongovernmental organizations that have descended on the village to address poverty, lack of shelter, and other problems common to rural Kenya.

Close up of red ant opening his mouth


The secret life of ants

How ants use crowdsourced decision-making to run their colony.