A Conversation With: Steven Pinker Thinks the Future Is Looking Bright

Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard, has been known to take provocative positions. He has argued that women are intrinsically different from men, that we are more driven by our genes than academics like to acknowledge, and that society is getting less violent over time — despite the mass shootings and other atrocities we…

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11 THINGS We’d Really like to know: How Can We Unleash the Immune System?

Cancer has an insidious talent for evading the natural defenses that should destroy it. What if we could find ways to help the immune system fight back? It has begun to happen. The growing field of immunotherapy is profoundly changing cancer treatment and has rescued many people with advanced malignancies that not long ago would…

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11 Things We’d Really Like to Know: How Long Can People Live?

The most common risk factor for serious disease is old age. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, neurological conditions, diabetes — all increase radically with advancing years. And the older a person is, the more likely he or she is to have multiple chronic illnesses. Some scientists hope one day to treat all of them at once…

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11 Things We’d Really Like to Know: Why Are We Still So Fat?

Whenever I see a photo from the 1960s or 1970s, I am startled. It’s not the clothes. It’s not the hair. It’s the bodies. So many people were skinny. In 1976, 15 percent of American adults were obese. Now the it’s nearly 40 percent. No one really knows why bodies have changed so much. Scientists…

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Global Health: Why Don’t We Have Vaccines Against Everything?

Vaccines are among the most ingenious of inventions, and among the most maddening. Some global killers, like smallpox and polio, have been totally or nearly eradicated by products made with methods dating back to Louis Pasteur. Others, like malaria and H.I.V., utterly frustrate scientists to this day, despite astonishing new weapons like gene-editing. We have…

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11 things we’d really like to know: When Will We Solve Mental Illness?

Nothing humbles history’s great thinkers more quickly than reading their declarations on the causes of madness. Over the centuries, mental illness has been attributed to everything from a “badness of spirit” (Aristotle) and a “humoral imbalance” (Galen) to autoerotic fixation (Freud) and the weakness of the hierarchical state of the ego (Jung). The arrival of…

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11 things we’d Really like to know: Will We Ever Cure Alzheimer’s?

It’s a rare person in America who doesn’t know of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The most common type of dementia, it afflicts about 44 million people worldwide, including 5.5 million in the United States. Experts predict those numbers could triple by 2050 as the older population increases. So why is there still no effective treatment…

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Medical News Today: What does it mean to have stage 4 pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is an organ that helps facilitate digestive function and blood sugar regulation. When cancer spreads from the pancreas to other parts of the body, doctors classify it as stage 4 pancreatic cancer. According to research from 2015, about 53 percent of people with pancreatic cancer receive a diagnosis when the cancer is in…

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