Fighting the Stigma of Sex Work: Burlesque, Beyonce, and sex-positive feminism

9780807061237By Melinda Chateauvert, author of Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk (Beacon Press, March 2015)

My mother kind of freaked out when I told her about the proposal for Sex Workers Unite! I never thought of her as a prude. When I was growing up, she rarely seemed embarrassed about sexuality matters, and her several non-traditional relationships definitely influenced my critique of the whole white picket fence family idea. But for her daughter to write about prostitutes’ rights threw her for a loop. Continue reading

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The Psychological Forces That Undermine Our Criminal Justice System

9780770437763by Adam Benforado, author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice (Crown, June 2015)

The death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and his killer’s subsequent acquittal, led many to condemn our criminal justice system as fundamentally broken. And in the wake of high-profile cases in New York, Cleveland, and Ferguson, questions about how the law reflects—and exacerbates—racial and economic disparities have continued to dominate the national conversation. As a society, we are desperately trying to make sense of rampant gun violence, police brutality, overcrowded prisons, and widening inequality. Continue reading

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Re-thinking Nature’s Aliens: How True Bio-diversity Benefits Us All

9780807033685By Fred Pearce, author of The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation (Beacon Press, April 2015)

Alien species are taking over nature. Rogue rats, predatory jellyfish, suffocating super-weeds, snakehead fish wriggling across the land–all are headed for an ecosystem near you. These biological adventurers are travelling the world in ever greater numbers, hitchhiking in our hand luggage, hidden in cargo holds and stuck to the bottom of ships. Our modern, human-dominated world of globalized trade is giving footloose species many more chances to cruise the planet and set up home in distant lands. Some run riot, massacring local species, trashing their new habitats and spreading diseases. Continue reading

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Re-defining God with the New Science of “Emergence”

9780807073391by Nancy Ellen Abrams, author of A God That Could Be Real:  Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet (Beacon Press, March 2015)

We are living at the dawn of a new picture of the universe. We now know that everything visible with our best telescopes is less than one percent of what’s really out there. Our universe is made almost entirely of “dark matter” and “dark energy” – two invisible, dynamic presences whose 13.8 billion year competition with each other has spun the galaxies into being and thus created the only possible homes for evolution and life. This must change how we think about God. Continue reading

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Prevailing Treatments for Addiction Just Don’t Work

9780807033159By Lance Dodes and Zachary Dodes, authors of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry (Beacon Press, 2015)

The major current interventions for alcoholism and other addictions are based on some terribly flawed science, and have startlingly poor success rates. These are the key findings within our 2014 book, The Sober Truth.

My co-author and I reviewed every major scientific study examining outcomes for AA and 12-step-based rehabilitation programs, and found that the most likely success rate for these programs falls somewhere between 5% and 10%. This wasn’t our finding alone; an exhaustive scientific review by the prestigious Cochrane Collection which examined all AA studies over 40 years came to an even more damning conclusion, disclosing that “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” at all. Continue reading

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America’s Indispensable Diplomat: Abraham Lincoln on the World Stage

9780307887214By Kevin Peraino, author of Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (Broadway Books, October 2014)

I came to Abraham Lincoln in a roundabout way. I had been working as a correspondent in the Middle East, reporting from countries like Syria and Libya and Yemen—where I was exposed to foreign affairs in a very high-intensity, granular way. I found myself searching for—almost craving—a wider, more thoughtful perspective on the events I was witnessing up close. I began poring through works about the historic traditions of American foreign policy in an attempt to make better sense of what I was seeing first hand on the ground. Continue reading

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The Internet Society: How Our Online Lives Reveal Who We Really Are

9780345812582By Christian Rudder, author of Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) (Crown, September 2014)

My fellow first-years and I were the first incoming class at Harvard to get official email addresses from the school. I remember thinking, what nerd is going to send me an electronic letter? Who wouldn’t just call me? What is this garbage? It was 1993. That fall, I used my roommate’s Mosaic browser to look up guitar tab for a Steve Miller song and then, my curiosity about “The Joker” well satisfied, pretty much forgot about the Internet. Continue reading

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