The Case for Slow Journalism: When to Unplug from the Endless News Cycle

Often when I see people in my social media feed criticizing “the media,” they are unfairly blaming journalists for how the social media ecosystem misuses journalism. Here’s an example from a post by someone arguing that CNN is being unfairly biased against Bernie Sanders. The complaint is that CNN criticizes Sanders for making a claim that a different CNN story seems to support. If you already believe that CNN is…

Video-Game Violence Is Now a Partisan Issue

Scholar and essayist Ian Bogost traces the history of video game scapegoating, noting that while the panic used to be bi-partisan, and then-senator Hilary Clinton targeted video games in 2005, now it’s mostly GOP voices who blame video games for violent actions such as mass shootings. (Incidentally, the Va Tech shooter preferred Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Sandy Hook shooter liked Dance Dance Revolution.) In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court…

Medieval illustration of two people in curtained, barrel-like baths.

Addressing Our Biases: Medieval Bathing

Did medieval people bathe? If you already believe that the middle ages was “The Dark Ages” (a bit of very successful propaganda created by Protestant intellectuals in order to distance their own accomplishments from the Catholic roots of the Renaissance) then you are likely to perpetuate the myth that everything about life “back in the day” was nasty and alien, rather than seeing all of human culture — especially our…

Candy Land Was Invented for Polio Wards

It is a game absent strategy, requiring little thought. Consequently, many parents hate Candy Land as much as their young kids enjoy it. Yet, for all its simplicity and limitations, children still love Candy Land, and adults still buy it. What makes it so appealing? The answer may have something to do with the game’s history: It was invented by Eleanor Abbott, a schoolteacher, in a polio ward during the epidemic…

I’m Gradually Losing My Hearing. (It’s Part of Aging.)

During a department meeting today, I noticed I was feeling very disengaged. I was having trouble following what my colleges were saying, unless They were speaking one at a time They were projecting (no sotto voce or vocal fry) I could could see their lips. I could usually get by with 2 of the 3, but only sometimes with 1 out of 3. I found myself scrolling through emails and…

What Can Science Tell Us About Dad Jokes?

Beyond making the audience cringe and, hopefully, bring a father a little closer to his son or daughter in a healthy manner, puns have given researchers insight into how the left side of the brain engages with the right side. Researchers showed that the brain’s left hemisphere processes the language of the pun first, while the right side takes a few beats to catch the ambiguous dual meaning in a 2016 study…