Sharon Begley

Stories by Sharon Begley

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    Buff Your Brain

    Want to be smarter in work, love, and life? Scientific advances offer proven ways to enhance your gray matter.
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    Stop! You Can't Afford It.

    New science unveils how your brain is hard-wired when it comes to spending—and how you can reboot it.
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    One Word Can Save Your Life: No!

    New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.
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    Are You Ready for More?

    Even those who deny the existence of global climate change are having trouble dismissing the evidence of the last year. Why we’re unprepared for the harrowing future.
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    How Prepared Are We for Nuclear Disaster?

    After the disaster trifecta in Japan--quake, tsunami, nuclear crisis--Californians are asking if they might be next. The state's two reactors sit near seismic faults, tsunamis are a risk, and evacuation plans are iffy. Did someone say 'prepared'?
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    The Science of Making Decisions

    The Twitterization of our culture has revolutionized our lives, but with an unintended consequence—our overloaded brains freeze when we have to make decisions.
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    How to Improve Your Memory With Sleep

    Getting a good night’s sleep has long been known to cement the day’s memories, moving them from short-term storage into long-term holding, but new research shows that it’s not automatic.
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    Begley: Problems With 'Geo-Engineering' Plans

    It sounded like a panacea for climate change: “geo-engineering” the atmosphere to block some sunlight and counter global warming. Now scientists scrutinizing the approach say it could produce dangerous cascade effects, severely disrupting weather and agriculture—and might fail to block the worst of the greenhouse effects anyway.
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    Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine Is Wrong

    If you follow the news about health research, you risk whiplash. First garlic lowers bad cholesterol, then—after more study—it doesn’t. Hormone replacement reduces the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women, until a huge study finds that it doesn’t (and that it raises the risk of breast cancer to boot). Eating a big breakfast cuts your total daily calories, or not—as a study released last week finds. Yet even if biomedical research can be a fickle guide, we rely on it.
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    Get Smarter

    Many of the concepts that could make us smarter are well established and not particularly abstruse, but not widely known even among the educated.
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    Loughner and How the Mental-Health System Doesn’t Work

    There are countless unanswered questions about why Jared Loughner allegedly went on a shooting rampage, but of this we can be sure: across America there are thousands of parents of older adolescents and young adults who are terrified that their child’s strange behavior, paranoid rants, drinking, drug abuse, conspiracy fantasies, and other red flags of mental illness will lead to violence.
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    Could Jared Loughner Have Been Committed?

    According to forensic psychiatrists, the answer is “not easily.” But in an ironic twist, Arizona makes it easier than any other state to do so.
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    Crying, Sex, and John Boehner: Not So Fast

    It’s probably not going out on a limb to say that John Boehner’s waterworks—the man cries when his party wins control of the House, when he thinks about kids, when he walks down the House aisle to take the Speaker’s gavel—are not meant to reduce sexual arousal in women.
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    Getting Info on Breast-Cancer Surgeons Isn't Easy

    To any woman having surgery for breast cancer, the words she most wants to hear in the recovery room are, “We got it all.” But if she wants to find the surgeons who have the best track record on the most important measures, she might as well throw darts at a printout of oncologists.
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    Can You Build a Better Brain?

    Blueberries and crossword puzzles aren’t going to do it. But as neuroscientists discover the mechanisms of intelligence, they are identifying what really works.
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    Richard Branson's Climate-Change Agenda

    His empire includes airlines, mobile phones, digital publishing, and space travel. Why the billionaire high-school dropout has added climate change to his agenda.
  • 2011 a Surprise Year for Renewables?

    Even before their midterm debacle, Democrats couldn’t pass an energy-climate bill worth the name. Prospects for legislation to free the country from dependence on petro-dictators—and put it on a path to a renewable energy-based economy—would seem, therefore, about as likely as John Boehner introducing a $700 billion stimulus bill. So why are renewable-energy advocates smiling?
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    Francis Collins Talks About Science and Faith

    In terms of being the director of NIH, I don’t think anybody who’s worked with me would be able to identify a circumstance where my personal beliefs about faith have in any way interfered with my role as a scientific leader.
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    Can We Blame Extreme Weather on Climate Change?

    To those who are convinced that the science of global warming is sound, as well as to those on the fence, the refusal of climate scientists to attribute any single episode of extreme weather to greenhouse-induced climate change has been either exasperating … or suspicious.
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    How Your Experiences Change Your Sperm and Eggs

    The life experiences of grandparents and even great-grandparents alter their eggs and sperm so indelibly that the change is passed on to their children, grandchildren, and beyond.
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    Begley: The Psychology of Voter Turnout

    For Democrats hoping to pull off the electoral equivalent of an interception at the goal line with one second left in the game, the primaries were a rude awakening—not because of who won, but because of who voted.
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    Why Masturbation Helps Procreation

    Since Christine “I’m Not a Witch” O’Donnell is campaigning for the U.S. Senate and not the directorship of the Kinsey Institute, maybe we should give her a pass when it comes to her views on sex and, specifically, masturbation. But that would be a mistake: the stakes are simply too high, going all the way up the very survival of our species. For while O’Donnell crusaded against masturbation in the mid-1990s, denouncing it as “toying” with the organs of procreation and generally undermining baby making, the facts are to the contrary.
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    How Voter Anger Is Influencing the Election

    Given that the Tea Party movement was launched with a furious on-air outburst by CNBC’s Rick Santelli in February 2009, when he called for a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest the White House mortgage-bailout plan, it’s not surprising that this is the year of the “mad as hell” voter.

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