Talking Points

Phenomena with different levels of complexity are understood in terms of different irreducible concepts—turbulence, survival, alertness, and so forth. The brain is an assemblage of cells; a painting is an assemblage of chemical pigment. But what’...

By investing in basic science, many other societal issues are addressed. Think about the money spent on defense, health care, and education. These days we are able to deal with diseases at the molecular level, only because fifty years ago we...

If American citizens are good democrats, they will always be suspicious of government officials, and that will make them receptive to the information that whistleblowers provide. But they ought to be suspicious of whistleblowers, too. Citizens...

#MeToo has been such a big catalyst for what looks every day more like the emergence of a new feminist movement, because it speaks to women across the class, race, and sexuality divides. The movement points to the fact that sexual harassment and...

We can respect the right of free speech without having to respect the ideas being uttered. Critical thinking is precisely not a program of neutrality, not tolerance of all opinion, not an endorsement of the idea that anything goes. It is about...

Inevitably the Qur’an is rooted in its time, just as the brutal parts of the Hebrew Bible are. Even so, much of what the Qur’an proclaims is more benevolent and less barbarous than many of the fundamentalist doctrines that emerged in later...

How do we fit into our mathematical descriptions? Well, one thing I’ll tell you is that in general, when you have dualities, things that are easy to see in one description can be hard to see in the other description. So you and I, for example,...

“It is fundamental in our purpose, and our express desire, that in the appointments to the staff and faculty as well as in the admission of workers and students, no account shall be taken, directly or indirectly, of race, religion, or sex. We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest . . .

Some of the ideals of the far left are ideals that many people still cherish—the end of exploitation, racial and ethnic equality, the emancipation of women, national self-determination, etc. Believing that workers should be paid more or that...

Such an unanticipated change in government in the United States for all its undoubted strength cannot, of course, alter overnight the entire course of international relations. The overwhelming fact is that the substance of change must answer the...

We are a nation shaped by immigrants, as the Statue of Liberty reminds us, but now, horrifyingly, immigrants are increasingly subjected to prejudice for both their ethnic identity and their religion. Older and equally repellent anti-Semitism and...

Harlan Robins was a trained physicist specializing in string theory when he arrived at the Institute as a Member in systems biology (2002–2006). "I didn't know any biology when I got here, so I would say my entire career as a biologist developed...