The real work of placebos (The New York Times)
by Gary Greenberg
Modern science is uncovering the way the placebo effect works, finding clear physical changes produced by “fake” treatments and genetic influences that can make our diseases more or less susceptible to sugar pills. But this work raises questions about the limits of Western medicine.
World War I, colonialism, and “progress” (Slate)
by Priya Satia
The grueling trench warfare on World War I’s Western Front called everything Victorians knew about scientific progress into question. But fighting in the Middle East helped glorify technology through violence in a colonial landscape where Europeans and Americans could imagine themselves as agents of progress.
Finding ourselves in Paleolithic myths (Aeon)
by Erika Lorraine Milam
Since the mid-twentieth century, popular books have tried to explain human behavior through the lens of prehistoric societies. But these narratives say as much about the politics of their authors as the realities of early humanity.
George Washington and the Native nations (Longreads)
by Colin G. Calloway
George Washington held frequent formal dinners to host representatives of Native nations, recognizing these international relationships as key to the fate of his country. The wars he fought against them took up most of the federal budget. Yet he never learned much about the complex societies that existed all around his fledgling country.
Bringing the world of words to English readers (The Atlantic)
by Liesl Schillinger
In the era of Google translate, writing in other languages is increasingly available, and unintimidating, to English speakers. But translating literature remains a complex task.
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