Latest Ideas headlines

Jo Anne Amoura on Leavenworth Street, which the city unpaved in 2014, by her home in Omaha, Neb., Feb. 17, 2017. To cut upkeep costs the city converted roads in some neighborhoods from pavement to gravel. As in many big cities, the infrastructure here is crumbling, a problem exacerbated by decades of neglect and residential roads that have never met code. (Ryan Henriksen/The New York Times)


When ‘reclaiming’ actually means ‘ruining’

A digest of big ideas in little bites.

16names - After realizing that the candy he has been handing out in baskets is actually filled with artificial ingredients, corn syrup, preservatives and other junk, the Easter Bunny has decided to apologize. A-list friends like Jillian Michaels, John Legend, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Brady have come to his support as he launches the official 2013 Easter Bunny Apology Tour. The Tour is proudly sponsored by Boston-based UNREAL, the unjunked junk food company, which has remade America's favorite candies by replacing the junk with all real ingredients, reducing the sugar, adding nutrition – and making it taste just as good. (CRAIG ORSINI)

Uncommon Knowledge

Apology tours, charity, and more

Surprising insights from the social sciences.

Edwin H. Land looks through a device using Polavision cameras in his Cambridge, Mass., lab, July 29, 1982. This week the shy, scholarly Land stepped down as chairman of Polaroid, ending his 45-year reign as philosopher-king at one of the nation's most famous success stories. (AP Photo/Bill Polo)


A Boston story in 50 words

The dream of instant movie cameras.

fingers crossed behind a suited backside; Shutterstock ID 140879881; PO: oped

Ideas | Matthew Hutson

‘Paltering,’ a new way to not tell the truth

You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener.

Ideas | Matthew Kiefer

It’s the end of urban planning as we know it (and we feel fine)

The current urban revival happened with no master plan and no national urban policy framework.

Senior White House adviser Steve Bannon (L) listens as US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before he meets with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

The Word

Whisperer: A loud label for experts, tamers, and connivers

Whispering, right from the start, was about the carrot rather than the stick.


‘Drunkards’! How an anti-Irish stereotype began

Stereotypes about Irish drinking were the linchpin of America’s first vicious anti-immigrant campaign.

Boston, MA - 9/1/1927: A section from the R. H. Stearns Building and St. Paul's Cathedral to West Street of Tremont Street, seen from Boston Common, September 1927. (C.A. Lawrence/Globe Staff) --- BGPA Reference: 141205_MJ_010


A Boston story in 50 words

A discreet moment on Tremont Street.


What should immediately happen to you if you desecrate a grave

Just some offhand suggestions.

Closeup of palette with mixed paints holded by hands of young woman artist

Uncommon Knowledge

Sensitive children, religious creativity, and more

Surprising insights from the social sciences.


Sneakers that order pizza: Has science gone too far?

A digest of big ideas in little bites.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Make narcissism great again

“Narcissist” used to mean something, until we overused it. Thanks to Donald Trump, psychology can reclaim it.

Headless businessman with hamer instead of head

The Word

The R-word and the challenging history of words for dummies

“Doddypoll,” “dullard,” and “skit-brains” are ripe for a revival.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch meets with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) in Ernst's office on Capitol Hill February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Gorsuch continues to meet with members of the U.S. Senate who are expected to take up his nomination in several weeks. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Uncommon Knowledge

Supreme Court insights, and beyond

Surprising insights from the social sciences.

Chocolate cookies


A Boston story in 50 words

Baked goods put friendships on the line.


Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

The 2,500-year-old roots of gender inequality

Ancient Chinese bones reveal the moment when men got the upper hand.

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2017 file photo, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as President Donald Trump makes the announcement at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.,that McMaster will be the new national security adviser. McMaster’s “Dereliction of Duty,” first published in 1997, was No. 1 on as of Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. The book’s popularity soared after McMaster was chosen Monday by President Donald Trump to replace Michael Flynn, who departed amid questions about contacts he had with the Russian ambassador. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ideas | Andrew Gawthorpe

Under Trump, will the generals speak up?

National security experts face an awkward duty: Yield to democratic rule, but don’t be an enabler.


Had a bad week? You weren’t the only one

A digest of big ideas in little bites.


Human health needs a common defense. Too bad we blew it

Antibiotic-resistant microbes highlight our overuse of the world’s shared resources.

President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday in Oxon Hill, Md. At the event, he made comments about “the fake news media or press.”


The real history of what is ‘fake’

President Trump keeps an old, but suddenly trendy, term in circulation.

3d rendering abstract background with snowflakes. Christmas or xmas background illustation. Winter holiday theme. High detailed snowflake.

The Word

Some ‘snowflakes’ can take the heat

When did a term that once celebrated diversity become an aspersion?

Boston, MA - 11/9/1965: The moon rises over the Berkeley Building in Boston on Nov. 9, 1965, during a major power failure that caused widespread power outages in Boston and the Northeast. (Bob Dean/Globe Staff) --- BGPA Reference: 151109_MJ_009


A Boston story in 50 words

Making it through a power failure.

This image released by Lionsgate shows Ryan Gosling, left, and Emma Stone in a scene from,


A collection of successful complaints, and more

Walt Whitman, Big Data, and of course, La La Land, in this week’s Brainiac.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

The ocean is coming! The ocean is coming!

How will Boston deal with rising sea levels?

Ideas | Nicholas Chadi

When doctors know that they don’t know

Uncertainty is a part of the medical profession. How do we explain that to patients?

Protesters cheer at the Women's March on Washington during the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Uncommon Knowledge

The legality of protest

Social Security, Obamacare, and protecting others at a party in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Ideas | Bruce Cannon Gibney

How the baby boomers destroyed everything

A selfish generation goes on a decades-long rampage, taking the country down with it.

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.

This is an ariel photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 27, 1996, of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains in New Hampshire with Mt. Eisenhower at lower left and Mt. Washington at upper right. About 25 Search and Rescue people are searching the area around Mt. Eisenhower for Nicholas Halpern, 50, of Lincoln, Mass., who never returned after a planned day hike to the top of Mt. Eisenhower. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Ideas | Nick Aiello

How crowds sent skiers into the woods

Without chair lifts or resorts, backcountry skiers are enjoying the White Mountains the old fashioned way.

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

How some trees can defend themselves against fire

A thick skin may be a tree’s best defense against an increasingly hostile world.

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?