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Stories by John Horgan

Why I Don't Dig Buddhism

I've been brooding over Buddhism lately, for several reasons. First, I read that Steve Jobs was a long-time dabbler in Buddhism and was even married in a Buddhist ceremony.

December 2, 2011 — John Horgan

R.I.P. Lynn Margulis, Biological Rebel

The biologist Lynn Margulis died on November 22 at the age of 73. I adapted the following essay about her from my 1996 book The End of Science.

November 24, 2011 — John Horgan

Can Science Solve-Really Solve-the Problem of Beauty?

Last summer, I wrote about my run-in with a rabid skunk, which reinforced my disbelief in a benign, all-powerful God. If such a God exists, why does He allow some people to suffer so much, through no fault of their own?

November 13, 2011 — John Horgan

How Can We Curb the Medical-Testing Epidemic?

We are facing an epidemic in this country, a threat to our health caused not by pathogens, environmental toxins or lousy diets but by medical tests. Over the past couple of years, we've learned that two popular tests for cancer—mammograms and the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test for prostate cancer—are less than useless for many people.

November 7, 2011 — John Horgan

Dear Occupy Wall Street: Read Jeffrey Sachs!

"Eat the rich, feed the hungry." "Occupy Wall Street, Not Afghanistan." "The Left Never Left." "Take the Bull by the Horns." "The Beginning Is Near." "The Empire Has No Clothes." "Frack Me, Frack You." "I am a revolting citizen." "Jesus was a Marxist." "Auto-plants fill the Earth with Machines Designed for Death." "I love this goddamn country, and we're gonna take it back." "We are the 99%." These were some of the signs I saw on Saturday when I visited New York City's Zuccotti Park, the base camp of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which boasts a kitchen, clothing dispensary, health clinic, media center and lots of cool music.

October 11, 2011 — John Horgan

Drone Assassinations Hurt the U.S. More Than They Help Us

A lot of my liberal friends are bitterly disappointed with President Barack Obama's performance in the past three years. They complain that via action and inaction, he is perpetuating many of the policies of his predecessor.

October 3, 2011 — John Horgan

History Suggests the U.S. Will Ban the Death Penalty Soon. Why Not Now?

There are times when I'm ashamed for my country. Last Wednesday, for example, when officials in a Georgia prison injected lethal poison into the veins of Troy Davis, a black man convicted of murdering a white police officer, Mark MacPhail, in 1989.

September 26, 2011 — John Horgan

Michele Bachmann Wasn't Totally Wrong about HPV Vaccines

One of my guilty pleasures in this run-up to the next U.S. presidential election is watching proudly ignorant Republican wannabes like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann lashing out at each other instead of Obama.

September 19, 2011 — John Horgan

Did the U.S. Overreact to the 9/11 Attacks? Undoubtedly

A decade ago I was wrestling a paragraph in my home office when my wife called out from another room, alarm in her voice. The music station she was listening to had interrupted a song to announce that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

September 7, 2011 — John Horgan

Why Screening Teens for Mental Illness Is a Terrible Idea

Mental illness can afflict children, just as cancer and other diseases do. Many young people quietly struggle with depression and other disorders, which may provoke them to commit suicide, the third-most common cause of death among teenagers.

September 2, 2011 — John Horgan

Is David Deutsch's Vision of Endless Understanding Delusional?

I'm a believer in wishful thinking, in the power of our hopes to become self-fulfilling. I even believe that war is going to end! But at some point, if wishful thinking diverges too sharply from what we can reasonably expect from reality, it morphs into denial or delusion.

August 22, 2011 — John Horgan

Proposed Ban on Ape Research Caps Summer of the Chimps

Caesar, hero of Rise of the Planet of the Apes , courtesy 20th Century Fox. This summer has seen the release of a blockbuster movie, acclaimed documentary and news-worthy research paper that all—in different but weirdly complementary ways—present sympathetic portraits of chimpanzees, our hirsute doppelgangers.

August 12, 2011 — John Horgan

What a Rabid Skunk Taught Me about God's (Non)existence

Not to turn this column into Animal Planet , but I'd like to follow up my recent post about a cute bear with a story about a not-so-cute skunk, which offers a lesson about the amoral genius of evolution.The episode took place on a summer morning three years ago, when I let my black, curly-coated retriever Merlin out into our backyard.

August 8, 2011 — John Horgan

The "Slow Science" Movement Must Be Crushed!

Does science sometimes move too fast for own good? Or anyone's good? Do scientists, in their eagerness for fame, fortune, promotions and tenure, rush results into print?

July 29, 2011 — John Horgan

Musings Inspired by My Run-In with a Bear

I live in Cold Spring, New York, where the Hudson River winds through steep, densely wooded hills. Last Friday I went jogging early, to beat the expected 100-degree heat.

July 25, 2011 — John Horgan

Gifts for Mom

Mother’s Day is Around the Corner