Archived Work

Below is a list of some of my past work. Links go to the original source if it’s free, but to a mirrored page on my site if it’s paywalled. Please let me know if you hit any paywalls (the Globe, in particular, is a big culprit on this front); I’ll post a copy of the article in question onto the site if you do.

This page is in need of an update, but you can find most of the stuff I have done since April 2012 over at my contributor page at The Daily Beast.

“Your Brain Is Not as Rational as You May Think It Is” – In Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, A theoretical physicist explains why what we think of as “rational” behavior actually comes from powerful, submerged cognitive forces. (The Daily Beast, 4/28/2012)

“How To Be A Smart Campaign Consumer” – General election season is upon us, and with it a months-long parade of misinformation and botched analysis. I talk to some experts about how to navigate the chaos. (The Daily Beast, 4/21/2012)

“New Study Suggests Blood Tests Can Identify Depression” – New research suggests depression blood tests are on the way—but that might not be a good thing. (The Daily Beast, 4/18/2012)

“The Upside for Social Conservatives of Rick Santorum’s Withdrawal” – With Santorum gone, one of social conservatives’ favorite myths will survive this election unscathed. (The Daily Beast, 4/11/2012)

“What’s the Truth Behind the Viral Post About a Gay Christian Teen?” – It’s an inspiring tale that millions have read, but did the story of “one proud mom” and her brave teen son really happen? I talk to the blogger behind the post, and he says he has nagging doubts–but he’s not sure it matters. (The Daily Beast, 4/6/2012)

“Why You Should Care About Obamacare” – In my debut for addiction-focused website The Fix, I report on the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision for those struggling with substance abuse (The Fix, 4/4/2012)

“Obama’s Comments Remind Us How Meaningless ‘Judicial Activism’ Is” – The president’s use of the conservative talking point ‘judicial activism’ in urging the Supreme Court to uphold his health-care law reinforces how nonsensical and stripped of meaning the term has become. (The Daily Beast, 4/4/2012)

“How Psychology Explains the Slander of Trayvon Martin” – Racism isn’t the sole reason some people are painting Trayvon Martin as a thug. With the help of some experts, I discuss the psychological quirks that perpetuate rumors and twist facts in difficult cases like this one. (The Daily Beast, 4/1/2012)

“George Zimmerman Video Outrage: Where Are Injuries From Travyon Fight?” – Newly released police video of George Zimmerman reveals none of the injuries he said he received from Trayvon Martin. The footage lays bare the worst, most dangerous tendencies of the Internet—and ourselves. (The Daily Beast, 3/29/2012)

“People Are Born with Religious Belief Argues New Book” – A controversial new book contends that we are all born predisposed to religious belief. Justin L. Barrett discusses his research, his feud with Richard Dawkins—and why he’s a believer himself. (The Daily Beast, 3/28/2012)

“Newt Gingrich, Facing Campaign’s End of the Line, Crawls in the Gutter” – Always known for his two sides—half high-minded wonk, half frothing populist—Gingrich has dropped his ‘ideas man’ persona in favor of frantic attacks on Obama in the waning days of his campaign. (The Daily Beast, 3/26/2012)

“The Tea Party Should Adore Mitt Romney, So Why the Cold Feet?” – The Tea Party has long despised Mitt Romney, but it shouldn’t–Romney’s economic vision is very similar to their own. (The Daily Beast, 3/22/2012)

“Saying Goodbye to AOL Instant Messenger” – The Web 1.0 giant’s outdated instant-messaging software may be on its last legs, but it profoundly shaped the communication habits of millions of 20-somethings like myself. I take a (semi-embarrassing) look back. (The Daily Beast, 3/17/2012)

Uproar Over Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke Attack Should End Because He Doesn’t Matter” – Lingering high dudgeon over the radio host’s Fluke insults is an example of Outrage Redundancy Syndrome–taking outrage to a level where it is pointless. Rush is a factor only to his ill-informed, albeit numerous listeners, and we should move on. (The Daily Beast, 3/14/2012)

“Heroin Works Better Than Methadone, So Why Won’t Politicians Allow It?” – Yet another study shows it’s both cheaper and more effective to treat certaub heroin addicts with heroin itself, instead of methadone. Jesse Singal on why politicians still won’t accept it. (The Daily Beast, 3/12/2012)

“Reddit Enlists 10,000 Volunteers to Prevent Suicides … They Hope” – Suicide-prevention is shifting from the phone lines to the online forums. It’s a good way to get young, phone-averse people the help they need, but it comes with some rather dangerous potential pitfalls. (The Daily Beast, 3/7/2012)

“‘The Power of Habit’ Nicely Dissects How and Why We Do Things” – Charles Duhigg’s book on how habits control us and how we can fight back is fascinating, even if certain aspects of his argument are a bit questionable. (The Daily Beast, 2/28/2012)

“‘Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave’” by Simon Goldhill” – In the hands of a more wide-eyed and credulous author, this could have quickly become a tiresome travelogue for those of us who aren’t well-versed in the works and biographies of Goldhill’s chosen intellectual and literary titans. But he pulls it off. (The Boston Globe, 1/2/2012)

“‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman” – With rare exceptions, the entire span of this weighty book is fascinating and applicable to day-to-day life. (The Boston Globe, 12/4/2011)

“‘The Myth of Choice'” by Kent Greenfield and ‘Brandwashed’ by Martin Lindstrom” – These two new books do excellent jobs of debunking the notion that we are all coolly rational actors simply trying to maximize our happiness. (The Boston Globe, 10/30/2011)

“A thoughtful argument for atheism” – In “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions,” philosopher Alex Rosenberg makes some provocative claims about what it means to be a conscious, living being in a universe without purpose. (The Boston Globe, 10/20/2011)

“Gaming grows up” – Two recent releases– “Catherine” and “Limbo”–embody the more mature, sophisticated approach game designers are adopting as they and their audiences grow up. (The Boston Globe, 8/28/2011)

“An eye-opening peek at Google, behind the scenes” – “I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59,” offers an entertaining, readable look at the search giant’s early years. (The Boston Globe, 7/19/2011)

“Have extra money to invest? Try a load of TRIPE” – Without TRIPE, you’re just another human being, an obsolete bundle of nerves capable of little more than crudely sensing your environment and communicating with other, similarly unimpressive humans. With TRIPE? The sky’s the limit. (The Boston Globe, 7/15/2011)

“Author attempts to sift through the Internet’s filter” – In “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You,” Eli Pariser offers up a compelling critique of the Internet’s ever-growing tendency to only show us what we want to see. (The Boston Globe, 6/17/2011)

“Gamer brain” – Video games may be affecting players’ reality, say researchers. (The Boston Globe, 5/14/2011)

“Birthers, truthers, and other believers in conspiracy theories” – Jonathan Kay’s “Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground” offers up an entertaining, informative explanation of why people believe crazy things so fervently, even if it does suffer a bit from Kay’s proclivity for ideological axe-grinding. (The Boston Globe, 5/14/2011)

“What’s in all those predictions? Turns out, nothing much” – In his book “Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better,” Dan Gardner offers a lively tour of the folly of prognostication. (The Boston Globe 3/23/2011)

“A changing American Jewish landscape”Centrist “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street may not yet have the sway of its rivals, but its quick growth in its first three years of existence points to the massive void left by the ADL and AIPAC. (The Boston Globe, 3/15/2011)

“From Mississippi to ‘The Corner’: A Tale of Right-Wing Wrongness” – I debunk, trace the origins of, and talk to the author of a viral chart claiming that people on welfare do better than hard-working middle-class Americans. (The New Republic Online, 2/8/2011)

“On the ground, tales of ill-prepared undergrads”Spurred by a book claiming that college students are learning very little, I ask several of my grad-school friends about the quality of their undergraduates’ work. The results are depressing. (The Boston Globe, 2/3/2011)

“The death of email as we know it? Not so fast” – “Sorry for subjecting you to this,” read the end of my hamburger email. “No one should ever, EVER give me 770 words to work with.’’ In reality, I was thrilled I had 770 words to work with. Thrilled that she’d read them. (The Boston Globe, 12/26/2010)

“Sarah Palin Gone Wild” – I review Sarah Palin’s new TV show and ask the question on everyone’s mind: “What’s with all the bears?” (The New Republic Online, 11/15/2010)

“Lessons from Bush 43” – George W. Bush’s big interview with Matt Lauer revealed exactly what we need to know about him: nothing at all. (The New Republic Online, 11/10/2010)

“The TV Review: ‘Parker-Spitzer’” – CNN’s latest primetime offering will knock nobody’s socks off. (The New Republic Online, 10/5/2010)

“Barney Frank Vs. The Dining Room Table” – My strange day of campaigning in Taunton, Mass. with Barney Frank’s Internet-famous, British-empire-obsessed primary opponent. (The New Republic Online, 9/16/2010)

 “Kimjongilia” – This documentary, which features interviews with North Korean refugees, puts a face on the victims of Kim Jong Il’s brutal reign.  (The Boston Globe, 9/1/2010)

“The Last Exorcism” – The horror film gets off on the right track, but squanders all the potentially stimulating material from its first 86 minutes with a ridiculous ending. (The Boston Globe, 8/27/2010)

“Doctor Feel-Heinous” – Good riddance to Dr. Laura, our generation’s most dangerous radio host. (The New Republic Online, 8/20/2010)

“Return to the roots of ADL” – For those of us who grew up seeing the ADL as the unequivocal good guys–as a powerful, Jewish civil rights organization that stood up against bigots, that gathered thousands of kids at the old Boston Garden to denounce hatred–its difficult to watch its slide into mushy, opportunistic relativism. (The Boston Globe, 8/6/2010)

“Freedom of screech” – Sure, online comments section have come to resemble virtual O.K. Corrals where anonymous flame throwers spew hateful vitriol, but forcing commenters to identify themselves still isn’t worth the costs. (The Boston Globe, 6/27/2010)

“To young voters, socialism isn’t a bad word” – Most young people find it bizarre that, decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Republican Party would center itself around opposition to socialism–and that’s why they’re so uninterested in the GOP. (The Boston Globe, 4/20/2010)

“Framing their dilemmas” – I run down some of the highlights of the Boston Palestine Film Festival, including the brilliant “Budrus.” (The Boston Globe, 4/20/2010)

“Foreign policy: Diffusing arrogance in ‘Avatar'” – “Avatar,’’ like Obama, presented an America not afraid to confront its own mistakes–projected in 3D onto stories-tall screens all around the world. It’s the sort of high-decibel mea culpa that might actually help change how America is viewed. (The Boston Globe, 3/7/2010)

“The New American Jew on Israel” – At a time when many American Jews are feeling fewer compunctions about criticizing Israel, what it means to be “pro-Israel’’ is changing, particularly among younger Jews. (The Boston Globe, 3/4/2010)

A New Era for Video Games” – BioShock 2, Mass Effect 2, and Heavy Rain show that video games now deserve to be treated with as much respect – and are worthy of as much critical analysis – as most other forms of pop culture. (The Boston Globe, 2/10/2010)

“Prognosis Negative” – Young voters, already less enthusiastic about the Democratic Party than they were during President Obama’s campaign, could ditch the party if it can’t get health-care reform through. (Newsweek.com [RIP], 2/1/2010)

“Nerd Nation” – My review of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms.” (The Washington Monthly, 9/2009)

“How to fight a rumor” – Stopping rumors means understanding not why they’re ugly, but why they’re necessary. A look at the evolutionary psychology underpinning our love of rumor and gossip and the science behind how and why they spread. (The Boston Globe, 10/12/2008)

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