Let’s talk about placebos – fake medical treatments that are used to analyze the efficacy of real treatments. But the interesting thing about placebos is that even though they aren’t real medical treatments, they can have a real effect on patients who receive them. Sometimes the effect is negative, but often it’s positive. For example,…

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We are all hypocrites. That should come as no surprise to most of you. We all decry liars even as we all lie. We all demand perfection from others even as we fail to achieve it ourselves. But hypocrisy is inherent in our nature. We are genetically wired for it and we’ll never be able…

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I’ve been thinking about music a bit lately, contemplating its effect on the brain, wondering why we often love songs even when we can’t understand the words. What is it about Ode to Joy that makes me happy when I don’t have a clue what the singers are singing? First of all, music changes our…

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We are all capable of great goodness, and yet we are all complicit in the killing of our neighbors. Everything we do, in some way, harms the world and the people around us. We buy soap, which contains chemicals that are harmful to the environment, hurting algae or bacteria, which then hurt other life forms…

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We’ve been hearing a lot about how great our air quality is – how it’s cleaner than it has been in decades, how we’ve made great strides in reducing smog and pollution – and it’s true that we’ve made progress in this area, but that doesn’t mean we’re doing as well as has been reported.…

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I hear a lot about how socialized medicine is bad, how the quality of care will drop dramatically if we get it here in the US. What these people don’t tell us, however, (maybe because they’re lying or maybe because they’re just that stupid) is that we already have socialized medicine and it works quite…

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We praise great passion in both art and love, swooning at the tragic romanticism of Romeo and Juliet, praising van Gogh’s Starry Night, feeling our souls rise to the sounds of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In doing so, we marvel at the commitment those artists made to their projects. And many of us adore the romantic…

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We hear a lot of talk about healing lately, a lot of calls for civility and unity. However, it’s not really possible at this moment in our nation’s history. Why not? Because this isn’t a recent problem caused by one campaign season. It’s a descent into division that began after WWII and has only worsened…

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When is the right time to give up? When is it okay to stop banging your head against the wall? Well, if you’re literally banging your head against a wall, I’d say you’re allowed to give up pretty much immediately. One knock of your noggin against the old plaster and you ought to have society’s…

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I’ve published 7 novels now and I’m sometimes asked which is my favorite or which one is the best. That’s sort of like asking a parent which child is the favorite. For most parents, that’s a question they’re unlikely to answer. With books, there’s no one to offend. And yet, it may not be possible…

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