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“The Martian” and the Earthlings

There’s one question everyone I know is asking about the film adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel The Martian: Did they mess it up? The book became a surprise self-published bestseller by drawing on a detailed and realistic understanding of the actual science and technology of space transportation—an outstanding example of “hard sci-fi“—to propel a suspenseful […]

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Obama’s New War Czar

President Obama’s foreign policy is adrift, but there’s one good way to bring it back into focus. He needs to appoint a “czar,” someone decisive and results-oriented, someone who will take this whole Syria debacle and give it direction and control. But you know, if you’re going to choose someone for a position modeled on […]

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Like Uber, But for Everything

If it sometimes seems like it’s impossible to restore the free market, as if every new wave of government regulation is irreversible, then consider that one form of regulation, which is common in the most dogmatically big-government enclaves in the country, is being pretty much completely dismantled before our eyes. And it’s the hippest thing […]

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Is Immigration a Threat to Our Culture?

The candidacy of Donald Trump, built on a foundation of openly contemptuous anti-immigrant rhetoric, has invigorated the anti-immigration right. In addition to the cruder appeals—about foreigners “taking our jobs,” or outright appeals to racism (which Trump’s candidacy has brought out of the woodwork on social media)—there is a more subtle argument that has gained a […]

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The Uber Reaction

As a general rule, by the time politicians have discovered a supposed problem created by technology, and by the time they have gotten around to imposing new regulations to put a stop to it, the wave of innovation will have moved on and made it all irrelevant. I remember this very distinctly from the late […]

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The Not-Trump-Not-Bush Primary

A lot of the support for Donald Trump is fueled by outrage against the Republican establishment. But those who ask us to understand this anger—as if it were a totally new phenomenon that none of us had ever noticed before—are ignoring the fact that Trump divides the right just as much as the establishment does. […]

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The War on the Brains of the Right

There’s an old story about a campaign stop for Adlai Stevenson, who ran against Eisenhower as the Democratic Party’s candidate in 1952 and 1956. Stevenson had a reputation as an intellectual and an idealistic “liberal,” and one of his supporters gushed that “you have the vote of every thinking person.” To which Stevenson replied, “That’s […]

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Cognitive Scientist, Heal Thyself

The journal Science just published a blockbuster report from the Reproducibility Project led by University of Virginia psychology professor Brian Nosek. The group examined 100 prominent psychology research papers and made an exhaustive effort to independently reproduce their findings. The results were eye-opening, not just for the field of psychology, but also in light of […]

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Trump v. Madison

I recently tried to identify six groups of supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Afterwards, I got a lot of complaints that I left off a seventh group that a lot of his supporters say they belong to. My categories weren’t entirely meant to be disparaging, by the way. “Outright racists”? Yeah, that’s disparaging, but […]

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Who Are the Trumpthers?

The big, existential question for Republicans right now is: who are Donald Trump’s supporters? It matters because this will determine the future, and the future prospects, of the party. I heartily agree with Ben Domenech, whose article on this just made it harder for me to fulfill my obligations to his publication, by pre-empting most […]

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