Aeon
The Malmedy trial: how the truth trumped fake torture stories
May 24th, 2017, 04:00 AM

In December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, members of a Nazi SS combat division executed 84 captured GIs near the Belgian town of Malmedy. It was the deadliest encounter of its kind between American and German forces. General Dwight Eisenhower vowed to hold the perpetrators accountable. Ho...

By Steven P Remy

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The truth about tarot
May 24th, 2017, 04:00 AM

Whether divining ancient wisdoms or elevating the art of cold reading, tarot is a form of therapy, much like psychoanalysis

By James McConnachie

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Beast of man
May 23rd, 2017, 04:00 AM

‘There’s a warrior spirit in us.’

Located near the small western Oklahoma city of Sayre, the Camp of Champions is an evangelical Christian rodeo Bible camp for ages six to 17. The short documentary Beast of Man follows the all-boys version of the three-day event from set-up to completion, as attendees of varying levels of experience arrive with their parents, pray for their own safety, absorb fervent sermons, and learn how best to handle sitting atop a large, unruly bull – an activity in which some form of injury is nearly always unavoidable, prayers or not. Using a discreet observational style, the US directors Christopher K Walker and Michael Beach Nichols artfully synthesise themes of faith, sport and masculinity into a subtle and thoughtful portrait that probes but doesn't judge.

By Aeon Video

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Polar bears need to be fat, and they can’t be without sea ice
May 23rd, 2017, 04:00 AM

Humans are inquisitive and innovative, with an indisputable talent for problem-solving. So when we read about how polar bears are threatened by melting sea ice, it’s natural for us to wonder: perhaps they can learn to adapt to life on land? After all, seven of the world’s eight bear species are t...

By Thea Bechshoft

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Who names diseases?
May 23rd, 2017, 04:00 AM

Swine Flu, Naples Soldier, Ebola. Disease names express fear, create stigma and distract attention. Can they be improved?

By Laura Spinney

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Perspectrum
May 22nd, 2017, 04:00 AM

Perspectrum, made in 1975 by the India-born, Canada-based animator Ishu Patel, is like a gently psychedelic geometry lesson. Colourful squares and rectangles twist, turn and spin to give the illusion of existing in a three-dimensional space, with the visuals accompanied by the staccato plucking of a koto – a traditional 13-stringed Japanese instrument. The result is something resembling vivid, stop-motion origami.

By Aeon Video

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To be happier, focus on what’s within your control
May 22nd, 2017, 04:00 AM

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,Courage to change the things I can,And wisdom to know the difference.This is the Serenity Prayer, originally written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr around 1934, and commonly used by Alcoholics Anonymous and similar organ...

By Massimo Pigliucci

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Resist or collaborate?
May 22nd, 2017, 04:00 AM

The Nazis have occupied France. It’s easy to condemn the collaborators. But be honest: what would you really do?

By Robert Gildea

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Solution to the grandfather paradox
May 19th, 2017, 04:00 AM

The ‘grandfather paradox’ has long been one of the most popular thought experiments in physics: you travel back in time and murder your grandfather before he’s ever born. If you've killed your grandfather, you've prevented your own existence, but if you never existed, how could you have committed the murder in the first place? Some physicists have avoided the question by arguing that backwards time travel simply isn’t consistent with the laws of physics, or by asserting a ‘many worlds’ interpretation of the Universe. But could the concept of quantum superposition remove what seems so paradoxical from this tale of time travel and murder once and for all?

By Aeon Video

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Space exploration is still the brightest hope-bringer we have
May 19th, 2017, 04:00 AM

I am one of the few African-American aerospace engineers who helped design the Apollo spaceships that took men to the Moon. My great-grandfather was a slave in Claiborne, Alabama, who used primitive tools to work the land. My father was born in Alabama before the Wright brothers made mankind's fi...

By Earle Kyle

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The valley rebels
May 18th, 2017, 04:00 AM

‘These are people, for god’s sake!’

An olive farmer by trade, Cédric Herrou became an unlikely lightning rod for the debate around immigration in France when he began housing African refugees on his property in Breil-sur-Roya, close to the Italian border near the Mediterranean Sea. While Herrou and his fellow activists see helping the refugees as a moral imperative and a manifestation of the republic's enshrined values of ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’, their efforts have been condemned as illegal and irresponsible by some French authorities. Opponents of the activists argue that assisting refugees motivates more people in war-torn countries to attempt crossing the Mediterranean, where they risk death, exploitation by human traffickers, and deportation if they arrive. The Valley Rebels follows Herrou as he works tirelessly to support refugees, fights prosecution for his actions in court, and organises to prevent the illegal deportation of unaccompanied minors.

By Aeon Video

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The mathematics of mind-time
May 18th, 2017, 04:00 AM

The special trick of consciousness is being able to project action and time into a range of possible futures

By Karl Friston

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What know-it-alls don’t know, or the illusion of competence
May 17th, 2017, 04:00 AM

One day in 1995, a large, heavy middle-aged man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. He didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. And he smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank. Later that night, police arrested a surprised McArthur Wheeler. When they showed him...

By Kate Fehlhaber

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Sands of time
May 17th, 2017, 04:00 AM

The North Sea is rich in signs of what made the modern world. It's also a monument to what awaits us in the Anthropocene

By David Farrier

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Dispatches from the ruins
May 16th, 2017, 04:00 AM

In the first two decades of the new millennium, stories of the post-apocalypse have permeated pop culture, from books such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014) to films and TV programmes such as The Walking Dead (2010-), the Hunger Games series (2012-15) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). While post-apocalyptic fictions of previous eras largely served as cautionary tales – against nuclear brinksmanship in On the Beach (1959) or weaponised biology in The Stand (1978) – today’s versions of these tales depict less alterable, more oblique and diffuse visions of our doom. So why can’t we seem to get enough of humanity’s unavoidable collapse and its bleak aftermath? 

Dispatches from the Ruins reflects on what these stories – set among crumbling buildings, overgrown lots and barren wastelands – might be telling us about modern fears and fantasies. This Aeon original video is adapted from an Aeon essay by the US writer Frank Bures. Bures is also the author of The Geography of Madness (2016), a book about cultural syndromes across the world. His work has been included in the Best American Travel Writing and appeared in Harper’s, Lapham’s Quarterly and the Washington Post Magazine, among others.

By Aeon Video

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Marriage should not come with any social benefits or privileges
May 16th, 2017, 04:00 AM

A previously unknown species – single people – has recently been discovered. First, there was Eric Klinenberg’s book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (2012), followed by Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own (2015) around the time that The Wash...

By Vicki Larson

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Democracy needs politeness
May 16th, 2017, 04:00 AM

Autocrats shouted, cursed, and bullied, while American revolutionaries used politeness as a tool of radical politics

By Steven Bullock

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Ryan
May 15th, 2017, 04:00 AM

Widely regarded as a maverick genius of animation, the Canadian artist Ryan Larkin (1943-2007) seemed destined for a successful career after breaking out with the influential short films Walking (1968) and Street Musique (1972). However, addiction and emotional trauma eventually brought his creative life to a halt, leaving him begging for money on the streets of Montreal. This experimental animation from 2004 finds fellow animator Chris Landreth interviewing Larkin about his brief, storied animation career before confronting him about his alcoholism. Rendered in a world where emotional scars manifest themselves as surreal physical aberrations, Ryan is a strange and striking glimpse into Larkin’s life, including the sometimes fraught relationship between creativity and mental health. Ryan won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Following the film’s completion, Larkin revived his animation career before dying from cancer in 2007.

By Aeon Video

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We need ecstasy and opioids in place of Prozac and Xanax
May 15th, 2017, 04:00 AM

What can doctors do to ease emotional pain? The physicians of ancient and medieval times found many plants and plant-derived substances (ie, drugs) that soothed mental as well as physical ills. Rarely did they draw a line between the psychological and physiological benefits of their remedies. Mod...

By Marc Lewis & Shaun Shelly

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Platonically irrational
May 15th, 2017, 04:00 AM

How much did Plato know about behavioural economics and cognitive biases? Pretty much everything, it turns out

By Nick Romeo

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