Between the Lines: A History of the Most Important Concept in Global Poverty
The global poverty line helps determine how billions of dollars in aid are allocated. But where did the idea of measuring poverty come from — and how might it be holding us back?
Half A Million Kinksters Can’t Be Wrong
The story of how one independent researcher conducted the largest-ever survey on fetishes, and what it has to teach us about sex, pleasure, and social science methodology.
From Warp Speed to 100 Days
During the COVID pandemic, we learned to design vaccines within weeks. Now, the bottleneck is testing that they work. To get even faster, we need innovations in clinical trial design.
The Devil in the Details: Matthew Desmond’s Poverty by America
Matthew Desmond’s *Poverty, by America* is one of the most celebrated books on the subject. Unfortunately, carelessness about the ways we measure poverty undercuts its main argument.
Behind Closed Doors
In 2020, we worried that COVID lockdowns might lead to an increase in domestic violence. Instead, the opposite occurred. Why did this happen — and why was it so hard to figure out?
A conversation about religion, fertility, and the American family.
Sam Bowman Nicholas Schiefer
Everyone agrees that AIs are getting smarter — but it’s surprisingly difficult to measure by how much.
You’re Invited to a Colonoscopy!
Colonoscopies are the first-line method for preventing colorectal cancer in America —and almost nowhere else. But do they work? We finally have a comprehensive trial, but it’s left gastroenterologists with more questions than answers.
Mysticism & Empiricism
The best way to predict if you’ll benefit from psychedelic therapy is a questionnaire asking if you’ve met God. Where did it come from, and what is it really measuring?
D. Graham Burnett
How an alliance between psychologists and advertisers at the turn of the 20th century taught us how to measure (and monetize) human attention.
The Art of Asking Questions
Everyone seems to agree that self-report questions are fraught with lies, biases, errors, and other inaccuracies. We all use them anyway. How can we ask them better?
Rarely is the Question Asked: Is Our Children Learning?
Across the world, more students than ever are in school. But it’s not clear that they're learning more while there — or if that’s even the goal.
How do you measure seeing god? Does testing vaccines need to take so long? Outlining poverty. Asking better questions. The origins of the ad economy. Can we really say how smart AIs are? Domestic violence during lockdown. Sex, drugs, and colonoscopies. Our most pedantic issue yet.