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Stories by John Horgan

Mind & Brain

Cybertherapy, placebos and the dodo effect: Why psychotherapies never get better

When the media report on a new diet that supposedly helps people lose weight once and for all, I wonder, "Does anyone still believe these claims, given the dismal track record of diets?" I have the same reaction to new treatments for psychological disorders, such as "cybertherapy." In a long, lavishly illustrated article in The New York Times , Benedict Carey reported that psychotherapists are harnessing virtual reality for treating social anxiety disorder, alcoholism, agoraphobia, gambling addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of other mental ailments...

November 29, 2010 — John Horgan
Policy

Cosmic Clowning: Stephen Hawking's "new" theory of everything is the same old CRAP

I've always thought of Stephen Hawking—whose new book The Grand Design (Bantam 2010), co-written with Leonard Mlodinow, has become an instant bestseller—less as a scientist than as a cosmic, comic performance artist, who loves goofing on his fellow physicists and the rest of us.This penchant was already apparent in 1980, when the University of Cambridge named Hawking Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, the chair held three centuries earlier by Isaac Newton...

September 13, 2010 — John Horgan
The Sciences

Contemplating the end of the world, math, mystery and other things

I suffer from eschatological obsession. That is, I spend lots of time brooding about ends. So the cover of the September Scientific American —which reads simply "the end."—made me all shivery, like when I hear the spooky sitar opening of The Doors' apocalyptic rock poem "The End." (I'm never more Freudian than when I hear Morrison's Oedipal yowl.)

Some issue highlights: Tom Kirkwood's article on why we shouldn't expect the end of death soon (someone send this to Ray Kurzweil); Arpad Vass's description of a corpse's busy afterlife (which reminds me of one of my favorite novels, Jim Crace's Being Dead , Picador 2001); George Musser's riff on whether time can end (which would mean the end of ends—like, grok that, dude!)...

September 6, 2010 — John Horgan
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