Unlocking the Mysteries of Pain

In “Song of Our Scars,” physician Haider Warraich surveys the science and history of pain, and our many misconceptions. BY EMILY CATANEO IF YOU’VE VISITED a doctor’s office anytime in the past five decades, after you’ve had your blood pressure taken and your weight measured, you’ve probably been asked that seemingly innocuous question: “Are you in any pain?” “Are you in any pain,” and the 1-to-10 pain scale, have become part and parcel of American health care. But does it make sense to reduce pain to a yes-or-no binary, or a number on a scale? Haider Warraich, a physician and Harvard Medical … Continue reading Unlocking the Mysteries of Pain

How the image of a victimized Russia got into the country’s psyche

Is there victory in defeat? by Gregory Carleton The range of anti-Russian measures taken by countries around the world since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is virtually unprecedented and hearkens back to the darkest days of the Cold War. They’ve assumed many forms but broadly include economic sanctions, military support for Ukraine and boycotts of Russian exports. Other forms of resistance, undertaken primarily by nonstate actors, focus more on Russian culture – its music, literature and arts – with the country’s conductors dismissed from European concert halls and pieces by Tchaikovsky excised from set lists. Yet there is no single country, … Continue reading How the image of a victimized Russia got into the country’s psyche

Primitive communism

Marx’s idea that societies were naturally egalitarian and communal before farming is widely influential and quite wrong Manvir Singh is an anthropologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse. He studies the origins of universal or near-universal cultural practices, including music, marriage, shamanism and witchcraft. Karl Marx died on 14 March 1883. At the funeral three days later, Friedrich Engels wasted little time on their 40-year friendship, focusing instead on Marx’s legacy. ‘Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature,’ Engels said, ‘so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.’ … Continue reading Primitive communism

You Are a Wonder, You Are a Nobody, You Are an Ever-Drifting Ship: Melville on the Mystery of What Makes Us Who We Are

“There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause… We trace the round again; and are… Ifs eternally.” BY MARIA POPOVA “The self is a style of being, continually expanding in a vital process of definition, affirmation, revision, and growth,” the poet Robert Penn Warren wrote in his impassioned and insightful challenge to the notion of “finding yourself” — something the Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert captured half a century later in his memorable quip about our blind spots of becoming: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re … Continue reading You Are a Wonder, You Are a Nobody, You Are an Ever-Drifting Ship: Melville on the Mystery of What Makes Us Who We Are

Why more young people are turning to nihilism

‘It’s incredibly freeing’ by Siân Bradley Amid rising inequality and the climate crisis, the view that life is meaningless is gaining traction. But can believing nothing matters also be a catalyst for positive action? About a year ago, while the UK was in lockdown, Luke* discovered nihilism through a philosophy channel on YouTube. He soon began to subscribe to the belief central to nihilism, which is that life is meaningless. “I think nihilism is necessary for a true life,” the 15-year-old student tells Huck. “We are thrust into this universe for no apparent reason.” Adopting nihilistic beliefs made Luke feel alienated and suicidal. “The … Continue reading Why more young people are turning to nihilism

Why does swearing make us stronger?

Profanity offers surprising benefits. But why? KEY TAKEAWAYS Repeating a swear word has been shown to dull painful sensations, as well as boost physical strength.  Scientists still don’t know the exact reason for this curious effect, but they theorize that profanity serves as a distraction, allowing us to ignore pain or push past physiological barriers.  If you want to see if swearing helps in your own physical exploits, try using the “S-word” or “F-word,” as these produced the best results in experiments. by Ross Pomeroy Swearing: Though almost all of our parents probably told us not to use profane language, … Continue reading Why does swearing make us stronger?

Truth is real

For a century, the idea of truth has been deflated, becoming terrain from which philosophers fled. They must return – urgently by Crispin Sartwell is associate professor of philosophy at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. His books include Political Aesthetics (2010) and Entanglements: A System of Philosophy (2017). It is often said, rather casually, that truth is dissolving, that we live in the ‘post-truth era’. But truth is one of our central concepts – perhaps our most central concept – and I don’t think we can do without it. To believe that masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to take it to be true that they … Continue reading Truth is real


Dylan Charles, Editor Waking Times I’ve always had a propensity to look too deeply into the darkness of the world. It draws me in, and in a sense I love it. Most of us do. I recall when I was young seeing a bootleg VHS of Faces of Death with my middle school friends. Back then we didn’t have the internet where you can now click a few buttons and see the most disturbing images possible. Simpler times. Someone recently sent me an email that I can only describe as a proper psychic attack. When I opened it up there was a large … Continue reading STARING INTO THE ABYSS

Sex and Gender Fluidity in Tibetan Buddhism

A Tibetan scholar’s dream uniquely presents sex changes without judgement—neither as as biological fact nor pedagogical tool, but as an expression of intimacy with another person. By Alexander Gardner The Sources of Buddhist Traditions is a monthly column from three of the major digital resources for Buddhist research, texts, and translation: Buddhist Digital Resource Center, The Treasury of Lives, and 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Focusing on stories, texts, translation, and teachers, the series will illuminate aspects of Buddhist practice, thought, and tradition. Buddhists have been switching genders for hundreds of years, either temporarily, permanently, or in dreams and visions. They do … Continue reading Sex and Gender Fluidity in Tibetan Buddhism

Beer and spirits have more detrimental effects on the waistline and on cardiovascular disease risk than red or white wine

Researchers are working to tease apart how various alcohol types contribute to weight gain and disease risk.  Author Brittany Larsen Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience & Graduate Assistant, Iowa State University Disclosure statement Brittany Larsen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. The big idea Drinking beer and spirits is linked to elevated levels of visceral fat – the harmful type of fat that is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and other health … Continue reading Beer and spirits have more detrimental effects on the waistline and on cardiovascular disease risk than red or white wine