Smartphone psychiatry? How NIMH director Tom Insel turned from brain scanners to social tech

Around this time, Insel told me recently, he’d just finished a talk describing the wonderful things the NIMH was discovering about the brain when a man in the audience said, “You don’t get it.” “Excuse me?,” Insel said. “I don’t get what?” “Our house is on fire,” the man said, “and you’re telling us about […]

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The Selfish Gene is a static meme, and that ain’t science

Richard Dawkins’s “The Selfish Gene,” book and meme, is now 40 years old. Has it served its purpose? And how do we talk about whether it has? When I argued not long ago that his ‘selfish-gene’ model obscures richer emerging views of genetics and evolution, the responses ranged from enthusiastic agreement to objections both civil and savage. I naturally […]

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Yaba-daba – my “Social Life of Genomes” story won a AAAS award.

A good day (so far). The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today announced that “The Social Life of Genes” (Pacific Standard, Sept/Oct 2013), my article on how the genome responds to social life, won the 2014 AAAS/Kavli Science Journalism Award for best magazine work in 2013 — a distinction I’m tickled to be honored with. […]

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Today’s Nobel was about how the brain navigates space. Here’s what happens when it can’t.

Today’s Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology went to a trio of researchers who figured out the basis of how the brain tracks and manages space, a task that is closely tied to memory. This ability to remember and manage space — to navigate your way through life — is vital. Here, in a brief story I told at a Story […]

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Geneticists blast Nicholas Wade for misrepresenting their papers

Today a group of over 130 prominent geneticists, responding to a review I wrote for The New York Times Sunday Book Review of Nicholas Wade’s book A Troublesome Inheritance, published a letter to the Review taking Wade to task for misrepresenting their work. Wade cited the work of many of these geneticists in arguing his book’s central contention, which is that humanity’s “major races” have genetic differences that […]

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My TL,DR version of “Die, Selfish Gene, Die”

Many have liked  “Die, Selfish Gene, Die,” my Aeon piece challenging Richard Dawkins “Selfish Gene” meme. Quite a few readers have objected to and disagreed with the story, sometimes sharply. Some readers have both liked it and objected to it. At least one objected both rudely and inaccurately; I answer that here.  I want to thank everyone who’s read […]

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