Most people know reading is good for them. But what does it do to the brain?

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Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

We hear and read all the time that reading is one of the best habits to develop. Successful people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Emma Watson have touted their insatiable appetites for devouring new information as one of the key ingredients they’ve needed for their achievements. And we all know where that information can be found: in books.

Besides the obvious fact that reading more opens us up to new information and shows us new ways of connecting sets of information, what is not as widely known by most people are the ways reading changes our brains.

Neuroscientific evidence…


There are profound links between our physical and mental health

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Photo by Benjamin Klaver on Unsplash

Everyone knows that exercise is good for us. We’re taught about the importance of exercise for our health at the elementary stages of our educations. Even though we all know the health benefits, many of us are not doing enough of it. Health experts recommend that we do 150 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise a week — this includes jogging and cycling.

In the US, a staggering 42% of the adult population is obese, this number rising to 73% of the population when people who are overweight are also included. In the UK, 28% of the population is obese…


For when you need to remember that it’s never too late to start

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The pressures of life can really catch up with us. As we get older, we know we need to keep working hard to make sure we can pay the bills and make an effort to keep our savings ticking over.

For many of us, that means taking up jobs in professions we might not really be all that passionate about. All that effort elsewhere can take time away from doing the things we really care about. For many of us, that thing is writing.

The purpose of this article is motivational. By showing you the ages a few writers published…


UK and US lawyers and politicians agree genocide is taking place in China

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A photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash, of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the place where the famous photo of ‘Tank Man’ was taken in 1989, an image which became emblematic of resistance to the Chinese state.

Genocide is one of the worst crimes against humanity it is possible for a legal entity to commit. For those who don’t know the precise definition of genocide, it denotes the destruction of a group of people united by some cultural or social characteristic, such as the Jewish people or the Armenians.

The exact method used to destroy a group does not matter — it can involve mass murder, such as in the case of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people during the Holocaust, or it…


He was an influential figure in the French Revolution of 1789

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Photo by Pierre Herman on Unsplash

Who was Abbé Sieyès?

Abbé Sieyès, also known as Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, was a French abbé, a high-ranking member of the clergy, who was active in French revolutionary politics. He is best known today for writing and publishing in 1789 his text What is the Third Estate?, which became the manifesto pamphlet for the subsequent French Revolution.

He represented the “Third Estate” at the Estates-General, which was basically a consultative and legislative body of people, who met at the request of the French monarch, to discuss and debate pressing social and political issues. …


He was a fierce advocate of active political participation and democracy

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Photo by Guilherme Bustamante on Unsplash

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan political philosopher, writer, and composer who lived from 1712–1778. He wrote several influential monographs and books about politics, the most notable of which include his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and On the Social Contract.

Following his death in 1778, material from Rousseau’s political writings was adopted and appropriated by virtually all the major players in the French Revolution, from the “most conservative anti-revolutionaries to the most radical democrats.” …


It’s blooming business, with more and more people jumping on board

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Photo by Sanni Sahil on Unsplash

In the last three years, the National Gardening Association reports that houseplant sales have increased by 50% in the US, taking total sales there to $1.7 billion. This is no small figure for a market which, until pretty recently, has been very much a niche on the fringes of our cultures.

Given the growth of this fertile, fresh, and blooming industry, I wanted to find out more first-hand about what makes avid houseplant collectors so infatuated with this living and breathing furniture. …


Antibiotic resistance has been a quietly growing problem for decades. Oxford University hopes to change this, to save millions of lives.

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Julian and Dorothy Davies explain in a paper published in 2010 for Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews that antimicrobial medication was widely introduced as an effective medicine for the first time in 1937.

Scientists discovered, at around the same time, that some microbes were resistant to these treatments. Resistance of microbial and bacterial cultures to antimicrobial and antibiotic drugs mean the treatments are ineffective.

Resistant microbes survive, multiply and spread. Concerningly, the microbes which resist treatment and survive, pass…


Accessible explanations of blockchain and cryptocurrencies

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Photo by Pierre Borthiry on Unsplash

With all the recent talk about cryptocurrencies, the recent price fluctuations of bitcoin over the past two months, and all the fuss about it on Tiktok, an article in simple terms explaining exactly what cryptocurrency is and why some people think it’s necessary has never been more needed.

It’s not really possible to explain why bitcoin exists and what makes it possible without accounting for blockchain too. So, here are simple definitions of each, and simple explanations about why they were both invented.

Why was blockchain invented?

A blockchain is a special kind of database that holds blocks…


Steven Pinker promises us the world is becoming a better place, but he fails to see that it is only improving for some people, not for everyone

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Photo by João Ritter on Unsplash

In 2018, Bill Gates had great praise for Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now, also published in 2018. Gates says that Pinker’s book is admirable in its demonstration that over the past few centuries, civilisations have been making progress, and, in aggregate, people have been faring better.

Pinker’s observations are no doubt true for many people living in developed countries, but his book is a total failure through its negligence to properly recognise the…

Ed Fernyhough

Cambridge, LSE & Bristol graduate. Write on culture, philosophy, business and politics. Owner of The Retrospective.

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