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Selected Works


I was most recently a senior staff writer at VICE. See all my VICE articles at my author page.

What It Means to Have a Weird Brain in the Age of Neurodiversity 

The words “neurodiversity” and “neurodivergent” are being used widely, from workplace initiatives to social media. But what do they really signify?

Why We Use "lol" So Much

The word rarely means “laugh out loud” anymore, but you probably knew that lol.

The Insights Psychedelics Give You Aren't Always True

The study of false—sober—insights teaches us to be wary of accepting every realization from psychedelic trips without critical thinking.

Psychedelic Patents are Broken Because the Patent System is Broken

Pharmaceutical patents are used to extend monopolies, leading to high drug prices, and reduced access. Will the psychedelic industry follow suit?

The False Promise of Psychedelic Utopia

Some advocates claim that widespread psychedelic use will change the world for the better. But it’s not so simple.

Against the Pursuit of Happiness

When happiness is your number one goal, achieving it is almost impossible.

The Revival of Stoicism 

Everyone from Silicon Valley billionaires to self-help enthusiasts is repurposing Stoicism for our modern age, with results that are good, bad, and highly indifferent.

The Cult of Busyness

A life of leisure was once the aspiration of the upper class. But now, bragging about busyness is how people indicate their status. Could a pandemic change the way busyness is glorified?

The Relatable Emotions of Depressed People From 3,000 Years Ago

"He eats bread and drinks beer but it does not go well for him, then says, ‘Oh, my heart!’ and is dejected."

Why Your True Self Is An Illusion

Most people believe they have a "true self" deep down that is fundamentally morally good. They don't, but the belief affects the way everyone behaves and sees the world.

Can Bunny the Talking Dog Really Talk?

Bunny is more than an internet celebrity, she is part of the latest attempt to research the limits of animal cognition.

Why You Should Talk to Yourself in the Third Person

Evidence suggests that there are real benefits of talking to yourself in the third person—in your head, not out loud. 

People Born Blind Are Mysteriously Protected From Schizophrenia

The possible explanations could help us better understand the condition.

The Chilling Mystery of High-Altitude Suicides

U.S. counties above 4,000 feet have twice the suicides as counties at 2,000 feet. Is it because there's less oxygen in the air, or is something else going on?

Your Fancy Honey Might Not Actually Be Honey

It may have been sweetened, heated, filtered, and turned into a fraud—and the entire agricultural system is at risk as a result.

I Went to a High-End Psychedelic Retreat to Address My Anxiety

As more people become interested in trying psychedelics, spa-like retreats are popping up all over the world. Should people with mental health issues feel safe trying them?


The People Lost Between Consciousness and Death

“I knew that I was myself. And that something really bad had happened.” 

How Long Is Right Now?

As long as it took you to read that headline. Or shorter. Or it might not exist at all.

The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less

The degrowth movement wants to intentionally shrink the economy to address climate change, and create lives with less stuff, less work, and better well-being. But is it a utopian fantasy?

The Anatomy of Empathy

Joel Salinas can literally feel his patients' pain. But as scientists are learning, there's more to empathy than just mirroring someone else.

This Gene Technology Could Change the World. Its Maker Isn’t Sure It Should

Kevin Esvelt came up with a way to use gene editing for gene drives, a technology that could change the ecological fate of the whole world. How does one scientist deal with the potential ramifications of his own creation?

Keeping Up Appearances As a 'Model Minority' Can Have Serious Mental Health Consequences

The importance of maintaining "face" in Asian cultures goes back thousands of years. In the US, where Asian Americans also grapple with a rampant high-achiever stereotype, people are suffering silently.

Inside The Fragmented Minds of People With Dissociative Identity Disorder

The condition was formerly known as “multiple personality disorder,” and the medical field is still in disagreement on whether it is real. But does ‘real’ matter when a diagnosis can help?

The Dark Truths Behind Our Obsession With Self-Care

What this growing trend reveals about the flaws in mental healthcare.

Meditation Is a Powerful Mental Tool—and For Some People It Goes Terribly Wrong

"I just felt shattered. I had a job, a wife, and two beautiful children, and yet I felt that I would never experience joy again.”

What It Might Mean If You Get Deja Vu A Lot

That weird feeling can be traced to certain parts of the brain.

This Woman Is Exploring Deep Caves to Find Ancient Antibiotic Resistance

"Hazel’s like the Lara Croft of microbiology.”


My grandparents survived the Cultural Revolution: have I inherited their trauma?

A look into my mother and grandparents' past, and the limits of inheritance. 

Meet the dogs with OCD

Could understanding canine compulsions help find new treatments for people with obsessive–compulsive disorders too?

Sick building syndrome: is it the buildings or the people who need treatment?

In Finland, people whose sickness is linked to certain buildings fear being labelled as mentally ill, while scientists search for evidence that their condition is ‘real’.


Science and Chinese somatization 

Psychologists have long theorized that Chinese people experience their emotions more physically than other cultures. What does that say about me?

The Kenyon Review


My mother, my father, the history of x-ray crystallography, and the wonder / fear of growing up with science.


On writing science

Should fiction tools be used in science writing?


What radiation-resistant space fungus can do for drug discovery

These fungi have grown in two of the most extreme conditions known to man: outer space and the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station.


Genetic fossil-hunters dig through HIV's long history for clues to new treatments

A flying lemur, a 60-million-year-old viral fossil, and the field of paleovirology. 

A lesson on life's end

How one college class is asking pre-med students to confront the realities of death and dying.​


The Washington Post

The mysterious syndrome impairing astronaut's sight

They go to space with perfect vision and come back with a loss of acuity.


Bacteria get dangerously weird in space

Microbes are full of surprises in zero gravity– and space is a terrible place for surprises.


The world is closer than ever to eradicating guinea worm

Jimmy Carter wished for the human disease to be wiped out before he died. But to end the infections in people, health officials must end it in dogs, too. 


Scientists probe "purple blob" mystery on Pacific seafloor

"I have no idea what that is."


Mysterious 1934 death of Belgium's King Albert I may be solved thanks to some bloody leaves

Now researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium say they have found DNA evidence to provide some closure to this 82-year-old cold case.


The very personal mission of the founder of the first diving club for African Americans

“What you’re doing is, you’re recovering history,” says Albert Jose “Doc” Jones.

High in their treetop nests, this biologist discovered the truth about eagles

Craig Koppie has studied the birds for decades and is still amazed at their gentleness.


The Atlantic

Building an impossible clock

The 18th-century horologist John Harrison claimed that he could make the world's most accurate pendulum clock, but his methods were scorned for hundreds of years—until someone proved him right.



Let's have a reunion

Seven decades after graduation, a Crown Heights native seeks to reunite his elementary school class.


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