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Stories by John Horgan

Research on TM and Other Forms of Meditation Stinks

In response to my last post, which proposed that Transcendental Meditation and other cults might be exploiting the placebo effect, some readers cited studies supposedly showing that TM has therapeutic benefits...

March 8, 2013 — John Horgan

Do All Cults, Like All Psychotherapies, Exploit the Placebo Effect?

I'm a child of the Sixties, so I've known lots of people over the years who've joined cults. One of the most popular was Transcendental Meditation, which the Indian-born guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began marketing to westerners, notably the Beatles, a half century ago...

March 4, 2013 — John Horgan

The Weird Irony at the Heart of the Napoleon Chagnon Affair

I have a few things to get off my chest regarding Napoleon Chagnon, who is back in the news with a score-settling memoir, Noble Savages . On Sunday, Savages was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review , and Chagnon was profiled in a Times Magazine article: "How Napoleon Chagnon Became Our Most Controversial Anthropologist." Both pieces focus on the 2000 book Darkness in El Dorado by Chagnon's nemesis, journalist Patrick Tierney...

February 18, 2013 — John Horgan

Why Drones Should Make You Afraid. Very Afraid.

Are drones far down on your list of anxieties? Do lethal flying robots seem like something Pakistanis, Afghans and other inhabitants of faraway lands need to fear but not Americans?

February 16, 2013 — John Horgan

The End-of-Science Bandwagon Is Getting Crowded

I'm getting worried, again, about the future of "pure science," which seeks knowledge for its own sake rather than for practical applications, like thermonuclear bombs and erectile-dysfunction treatments...

February 4, 2013 — John Horgan

Are We Ready for a World in Which Everyone Spies on Everyone Else?

Recent events have me rethinking the benefits of a fully transparent world, in which everyone electronically monitors everyone else. In 2010, I blogged about my hopes that "grassroots spying" could help us create a safer, more just society, in which citizens can spy on people in power rather than just vice versa...

January 7, 2013 — John Horgan

Need a New Year's Resolution? Choose to Believe In Free Will!

We're approaching the end of one year and the beginning of another, when people resolve to quit smoking, swill less booze, gobble less ice cream, jog every day, or every other day, work harder, or less hard, be nicer to kids, spouses, ex-spouses, co-workers, read more books, watch less TV, except Homeland , which is awesome ...

December 28, 2012 — John Horgan

Psychedelic Prophet of 2012 Doom Was Goofing! But For a Good Reason

It's the day before the doomsday, as supposedly prophesied by ancient Mayans. Scientific American has been dutifully mocking the prediction, while also cannily capitalizing on it by offering discounted subscriptions in an "End of the World Flash Sale." Brilliant!I figured I'd take advantage of apocalypse fever by reprinting something I posted last June about a prominent popularizer of the 2012 meme, psychedelic scholar-entertainer-guru- Scientific-American -fan Terence McKenna...

December 20, 2012 — John Horgan

Will Connecticut Massacre Give Politicians the Guts to Take on the Gun Lobby?

It's happened again: a lone gunman has carried out a massacre, this time in an elementary school in Newtown, CT. A young man killed 18 children and eight adults, reportedly including his mother, a teacher at the school, before taking his own life.And so once again I'm dragging out my plea for gun control, just as I did last summer, after James Holmes shot 12 people to death in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and in January 2011, after Jared Laughner killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, Arizona.Every time a deranged American male goes on a rampage, shooting down dozens of people, gun lovers trot out the familiar excuses: Guns don’t kill people, people do...

December 14, 2012 — John Horgan
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