Latest Ideas headlines

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Welcome to the pre-post-apocalypse

Signs of civilizational catastrophe are already all around us.

Genetic sequencing presents ethical dilemma around Native American ancestry

Brainiac

Genetic sequencing presents ethical dilemma on Native American ancestry

Many Native American tribes are deeply wary of reconstructing the past via DNA sequencing.

Big Data: Tainted supplements

Brainiac

Big Data: Tainted supplements

A review found that the government had recalled only 48 percent of the offending supplements.

Innovation of the Week: Horse blinders (for humans)

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Horse blinders (for humans)

You can only listen to so many good-mornings and how-are-yous, right? Well, now there’s a way to shut it all out.

Procter & Gamble's Crest toothpaste fills the shelves of a grocery store on Thursday, June 14, 2018, in Aventura, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Jesuits, economics, and toothpaste gifts

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

CEO hubris costs millions

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

CEO hubris costs millions

Overconfidence among America’s business leaders is a growing problem, according to a recent study.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Sexy Halloween costumes for fed-up women

Both political and seasonal October vibes continue with Beth Wolfensberger Singer’s latest cartoon.

A screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the closing number of the Dow Jones industrial average, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 800 points, its worst drop in eight months, led by sharp declines in technology stocks. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: Keep an eye on financial warning signs

If you were an investor in an outfit called India Globalization Capital, October was a choppy ride.

How smart are dogs, really?

Brainiac

How smart are dogs, really?

Compared to dolphins and chimpanzees, dogs’ cognitive capacity isn’t quite so impressive.

Innovation of the Week: Canned fresh air

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Canned fresh air

We’ve all got to breathe, but sometimes it can be such a drag.

Uncommon Knowledge: From military surrender to web moderators

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: From military surrender to web moderators

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Can technology cure what ails the admissions process?

Ideas | S.I. Rosenbaum

Can technology cure what ails the admissions process?

Outsourcing admissions decisions to computer algorithms might be controversial, but it could help colleges promote diversity without considering race directly.

We still need affirmative action — just not by race

Ideas | Richard D. Kahlenberg

We still need affirmative action — just not by race

Americans want disadvantaged students to get a leg up. Socioeconomic preferences are the best way to promote diversity on campus.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 23, 2018 a man rides an electric scooter in Lille, northern France. - New forms of transport compete with scooters, representing the most dynamic market in France with one million scooters in circulation, AFP reported on October 1, 2018. (Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP)PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

Ideas | FIXING BOSTON TRANSPORTATION | Amy Crawford

Little vehicles, big decisions

The law is about to catch up to electric scooters.

IDEAS | FIXING BOSTON TRANSPORTATION | SAGE STOSSEL

Transportation keeps evolving, but human nature stays the same

Transit innovations will change the way we commute. But there are some things that will never change.

From left: Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) listen as Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2018. Republicans know this may be their last, best opportunity to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation, Carl Hulse writes. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times)

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Male committees, paintball, and ‘Shark Tank’

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Kavanaugh nomination brings the Supreme Court back to high school

The Kavanaugh hearings have been carried out at the nexus of two key American institutions.

Architect Henry Cobb, in front of what was then known as the John Hancock tower in 1977.

Ideas | Rachel Slade

The man who designed modern Boston

Approach the city from the north, south, west, or the harbor, and you can’t miss Henry Cobb’s vision.

All Americans should welcome alerts from President Trump

Ideas | Andrew Facini

All Americans should welcome alerts from the president

As far back as the 1960s, the president’s ability to alert the nation was seen as a crucial part of confronting the only national emergency that mattered: nuclear war.

Science journals are not printed on litmus paper, but here’s a case in which politics appears to have triumphed over academic freedom.

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: Potential censorship?

Science journals are not printed on litmus paper, but here’s a case in which politics appears to have triumphed over academic freedom.

Humans and octopuses are separated by 500 million years on the evolutionary tree, yet our brains both respond to ecstasy.

Brainiac

Big Data: 0.066 mg of MDMA

Humans and octopuses are separated by 500 million years on the evolutionary tree, yet our brains both respond to ecstasy.

Innovation of the Week: ‘Body-sharing’ robots

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: ‘Body-sharing’ robots

Researchers see opportunities for experts to remotely train workers in new tasks, but there are still some problems to be worked out.

Uncommon Knowledge: Materialism, fiscal rules, and misogyny

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Materialism, fiscal rules, and misogyny

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Boring ol’ Governor Baker

Jay Gonzalez’s gubernatorial campaign tries to find an effective line of attack against Governor Charlie Baker in this editorial cartoon.

“On Point” hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and David Folkenflik.

Ideas | Shirley Leung

‘Can the call-in show survive?’ and other questions for the new hosts of ‘On Point’

Meghna Chakrabarti and David Folkenflik sat down for a wide-ranging interview on the increasingly complex media landscape.

A crisis for voting rights

Ideas | David A. Moss and Dean Grodzins

A crisis for voting rights

The Constitution explicitly guaranteed African-Americans’ right to go to the polls, but states just ignored it. What does it take to turn the law into more than just words on paper?

Surveillance for the public good

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

Surveillance for the public good

When better monitoring leads to better science.

Dr. Dorry Segev performs arthroscopic surgery during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital June 26, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The US Supreme Court is expected to announce their decision on the US President Barack Obama's healthcare law on June 28. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

Ideas | Vanessa Weiland and Lena Sibulesky

Would you decline a kidney from an overdose victim?

In the United States, about 20,000 kidney transplants are performed each year — too slow a pace for the 95,000 Americans waiting for new kidneys.

The mitts that make us

Ideas | David Jenemann

The mitts that make us

As the playoffs approach, it’s worth paying a little attention to the mitts and gloves that make so much drama on the diamond possible.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Text alerts directly from Donald Trump. What could go wrong?

Some perfectly reasonable questions about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s forthcoming system that allows the president to send out text alerts.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Computers can solve your problem. You may not like the answer

What happened when Boston’s schools tried for equity with an algorithm?

Ideas

Coming up at HUBWeek: Your date with history

The year was 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. was building support for African-American voting rights, one protest at a time. The political pressures, from the White House on down, were enormous.

Setepmerb 12, 2018 The earliest known drawing in history a red, cross-hatched pattern has been unearthed in South Africa, reports a study published online this week in Nature. Blombos Cave, located on the southern coast of South Africa, east of Cape Town, is a site that contains some of earliest known evidence of behaviourally modern human cultural activity. The cave has furnished an abundance of early human artefacts dated to between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago, including shell beads, engraved pieces of ochre and tools manufactured from pre-heated silicrete a fine-grained cemented form of sand and gravel.

Brainiac

Big Data: 73,000 years

The earliest known human drawing goes way back.

In this Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 photo, a slice of prototype pizza, in development to be used in MRE's — meals ready to eat, sits in a packet next to a smaller packet known as an oxygen scavenger, left, at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Natick, Mass. Pizza is in development to be used in individual field rations known as meal ready to eat, or MREs. It has been one of the most requested options for soldiers craving a slice of normalcy in the battlefield and disaster areas. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Pizza for the military

It took cooks in Natick more than 20 years to get a pizza that could meet all the military’s requirements.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Trial by jury, learning with peers, and saving lives

Unusual insights from the social sciences.

Ideas

Discuss: What role should algorithms play in school equity?

Share your thoughts on the Ideas section’s special report on using algorithms to plan school start times.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin look at containers of food as they visit an exhibition during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (Kirill Kudryavtsev Photo via AP)

Ideas | Mark Hannah

A new era demands new ‘isms’

The topics that animate political debate today cannot be properly understood by the “isms” of yesterday.

Blackbeard, in an image published in 1736.

Ideas | Christopher Klein

The surprising history of American pirates

Pirates were once welcomed with open arms — even in Puritan Boston.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Simple upgrades for MBTA subway stations

Many Boston subway stations are in a state of disrepair. Some simple fixes would go a long way.

After some vague reasons, a report on happiness itself has been retracted.

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: A ‘happy’ ending

After some vague reasons, a report on happiness itself has been retracted.

Big Data: Turtles in danger

Brainiac

Big Data: Turtles in danger

Turtles outlived the dinosaurs, but can they withstand humans?

An undated image of William Marcy

Brainiac

‘Corruption face’: Trying to predict politicians’ misconduct

Subjects of a California study made better-than-chance judgments about whether pols had been convicted of corruption.

African Americans demonstrators carry picket signs along the main street of Raleigh in protest against the enforcement of segregation in cafes and restaurants in the city on Feb. 16, 1960. (AP Photo)

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Resentment, reproduction, and reconciliation

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Even without gadgets, humans have a sense of when things happened and in which order.  Scientists now think they know why.

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

Why the brain tells time

Even without gadgets, humans have a sense of when things happened and in which order. Scientists now think they know why.

Ideas Out Loud: A date with history

Join the Ideas team and Harvard Business School professor David A. Moss for an interactive discussion of a pivotal moment in our history.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Pass the scalpel. Hold the guilt trip

Decades into the fight against obesity, Americans still view surgical treatments with suspicion. But why? An abundance of food unprecedented in human history justifies aggressive measures.