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Stories by John Horgan

If Natural Gas Is Less Noxious Than Coal, Don't We Have to Frack?

If Natural Gas Is Less Noxious Than Coal, Don't We Have to Frack?

Opinions are my stock-in-trade. Early in my career, I pretended to be objective, but as time went on I thought it would be more fun telling readers exactly what I think about psychiatric drugs, "progress" in psychology, multiverse "theories", war-is-in-our-genes malarkey, free will and so on.

June 25, 2012 — John Horgan
Why B. F. Skinner, Like Freud, Still Isn't Dead

Why B. F. Skinner, Like Freud, Still Isn't Dead

Behaviorism is back! That's what David Freedman proclaims in the June Atlantic cover story, "The End of Temptation: How the creepy science of behavior modification is reshaping our desires." The article is, on one level, a hyperbolic report on apps that are "transforming us into thinner, richer, all around-better versions of ourselves" by helping people (including Freedman's brother) overcome overeating, smoking and other bad habits.

June 1, 2012 — John Horgan
What Thomas Kuhn Really Thought about Scientific "Truth"

What Thomas Kuhn Really Thought about Scientific "Truth"

In 1991, when I was a staff writer for Scientific American , I wrote a letter to Thomas Kuhn, then at MIT. I said I wanted to profile him for Scientific American and "tell readers how you developed your views of the process of science." When he didn't respond, I called.

May 23, 2012 — John Horgan
What Are Science's Ugliest Experiments?

What Are Science's Ugliest Experiments?

When I teach history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology, I devote plenty of time to science's glories, the kinds of achievements that my buddy George Johnson wrote about in The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments (Alfred A.

May 14, 2012 — John Horgan
What Thieving Seals Can Tell Us about War's Roots

What Thieving Seals Can Tell Us about War's Roots

A recent Scientific American post on lethal chimpanzee violence has me mulling over an incident that took place two summers ago when I was surfcasting for bluefish on Nantucket Island.

May 9, 2012 — John Horgan
Why You Should Choose Optimism

Why You Should Choose Optimism

I've been bashing determinism and fatalism a lot lately, so I thought I'd write about an "ism" I like: optimism. For most of my career as a science journalist, I've been a pessimist, harping on all the goals that scientists will probably never attain.

April 17, 2012 — John Horgan
Christof Koch on Free Will, the Singularity and the Quest to Crack Consciousness

Christof Koch on Free Will, the Singularity and the Quest to Crack Consciousness

I met Christof Koch in 1994 at the first of series of big conferences on consciousness held in Tucson, Ariz. A professor at Caltech, Koch had helped popularize consciousness as a topic for serious scientific investigation—instead of windy philosophical supposition—through his collaboration with the great Francis Crick, who had already cracked the genetic code and now wanted to solve the riddle of mind as well.

April 2, 2012 — John Horgan
Are We Doomed to Wage Wars over Water?

Are We Doomed to Wage Wars over Water?

Water, water, everywhere. But will we always have enough to drink? Wash away our waste? Grow crops and raise livestock? Some prominent progressives are warning that, as our population grows and our planet warms, water will become increasingly scarce, and humans will inevitably start fighting over it.

March 26, 2012 — John Horgan
Why I Won't Get a Colonoscopy

Why I Won't Get a Colonoscopy

I recently visited a doctor for one problem, and, as doctors are wont to do, he recommended tests for completely unrelated problems. My hearing has seemed muffled lately, so I wanted the doctor to peer in my ears.

March 12, 2012 — John Horgan
Are Psychiatric Medications Making Us Sicker?

Are Psychiatric Medications Making Us Sicker?

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Crown 2010), by the journalist Robert Whitaker, is one of the most disturbing, consequential works of investigative journalism I've read in a long time.

March 5, 2012 — John Horgan
Let's Begin Talking about How to End Wars

Let's Begin Talking about How to End Wars

Are you a war pessimist? Odds are you are. For almost a decade now, I've been asking people if they think war will ever end. I've surveyed thousands of people, young and old, liberal and conservative, hawks and doves, male and female.

February 20, 2012 — John Horgan
Education Isn't Helping Americans Overcome Deepening Inequality

Education Isn't Helping Americans Overcome Deepening Inequality

In Remaking Eden (Harper Perennial, 1998), geneticist Lee Silver envisioned a future in which humanity has split into two species: "Naturals," the poor slobs who muddle along with the genes that nature gave them, and the "GenRich," who can afford to boost their physical and mental talents via genetic engineering.

February 13, 2012 — John Horgan
Stories by John Horgan

Think Outside the Gift Box