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Everyone needs to understand the basics of science to participate fully in the democratic process. Conversation image via www.shutterstock.com.

To seek common ground on life’s big questions, we need science literacy

Science isn’t important only to scientists or those who profess an interest in it. Whether you find fascinating every new discovery reported or you stopped taking science in school as soon as you could…
Ridley Scott’s casting choices for Exodus: Gods and Kings are emblematic of a larger, systemic problem in the entertainment industry. Movie Pilot

Ridley Scott’s casting of white actors is symptomatic of larger problems

Director Ridley Scott recently set off a firestorm when he dismissed those who criticized him for casting white actors as every major character in the recently released Exodus: Gods and Kings, while reserving…
Painter Mark Rothko directs the installation of his murals in Harvard’s Holyoke Center in 1963. Artwork: © 2009 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Elizabeth H. Jones, © President and Fellows of Harvard College

How we restored Harvard’s Rothko murals – without touching them

In 1989, I was a conservation student at the Courtauld Institute in London. During a class on varnish removal, my professor, Gerry Hedley, demonstrated how shining blue light on a picture with yellowed…
Congress raised the cap on how much an individual can donate to political parties in its spending bill that just passed last week, giving wealthy Americans a greater voice in elections. Shutterstock

Lawmakers show indifference to Americans’ needs by gutting campaign finance caps

The political system’s indifference to the needs of the American people could not have been made clearer in recent days. At a time when economic inequality is increasing and the US racial divide is ever…
Even the White House has entered the fray. Larry Downing/Reuters

Sexual assault on campuses: what to do?

Nearly 24 years ago, Time Magazine’s cover featured a photo of Katie Koestner, a first year student at the College of William and Mary whose date had raped her. The red lettered words, DATE RAPE, dominated…
Trawling for fish? You might be setting yourself up for a paltry haul next time. Glenn Perrigo

Frequent trawling leads to skinnier fish

Trawling – dragging heavy gear over ocean bottoms in search of fish near the sea floor – is arguably one of the most destructive human practices. Removing fish from the sea for an ever-hungry, growing…
Even at major NCAA Division I schools like Alabama, whether or not their athletic programs turn a profit varies by year. Tim Murphy/Flickr

Who actually funds intercollegiate athletic programs?

Parents, government officials, and tuition-paying students are all seeking solutions to the skyrocketing costs of higher education and the burden of student debt. Currently, public universities in America…
Does this look like community policing? Flikr/Jamelle Bouie

With identity crisis in police, more Fergusons inevitable

Recent social unrest across the country protesting the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York has reopened wounds and revealed deeply…
New norms for what goes on inside this room. image from www.shutterstock.com

Using science to improve the practice of interrogation

The release of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program documents the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) against terrorism…
Creativity is almost always viewed as an asset to individuals and organizations. But it can also lead to negative behaviors. Kraigsta/Wikimedia Commons

The dark side of creativity

Creativity – the generation of novel and useful ideas, products, or solutions – is seen as a valuable trait for people and organizations to possess. Organizations harness it to develop innovative products…
Why are hospitals running out of critical drugs? IV drip via Bhakpong/Shutterstock

Drug shortage crisis puts public health at risk

Hospitals and pharmacies around the country are facing severe shortages of essential drugs. These shortages can limit access to critical medications and compromise patient safety, resulting in serious…
This tee shirt cuts to the chase Reuters/Jason Reed

Americans are deeply divided about torture

The Senate report on torture found that the “enhanced techniques” used by the CIA were ineffective as a mechanism for gathering intelligence. In fact, the report stated there was no actionable intelligence…
The Guardians of the Galaxy – whose protagonists are a morally-gray motley crew – could be seen as a satire of the classic hero tradition. BagoGames/Flickr

Guardians of the Galaxy and the fall of the classic hero

A beautiful assassin. A superstrong thug. A star-lost child of the ‘80s. A sentient tree. A gun-toting raccoon. Meet the morally gray protagonists of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the film that raked…
Oil prices have dropped to levels not seen in years. It’s not all good news. Reuters

Oil price drop offers short-term gains but long-term pains

The recent drop in crude oil and gasoline prices in the United States is a nice stocking stuffer for consumers this holiday season, but it could turn into a lump of coal. A global oil glut has caused the…