The Problem of Free Speech in an Age of Disinformation

“It’s an article of faith in the United States that more speech is better and that the government should regulate it as little as possible. But increasingly, scholars of constitutional law, as well as social scientists, are beginning to question the way we have come to think about the First Amendment.”

Published: Oct 13, 2020
Length: 33 minutes (8,400 words)

Shadow of a Doubt

In 2011, Michael Shannon was wrongly convicted of murder, even though two jurors voted to acquit him—a result of a Louisiana law rooted in discrimination. For defendants like Shannon and the holdout jurors who believed in their innocence, it has left a bitter legacy.

Published: Jan 16, 2020
Length: 19 minutes (4,800 words)

Elizabeth Warren Is Completely Serious

A leading Democratic candidate for President, Elizabeth Warren has serious plans to tackle income equality, corporate power, and a range of other issues working class Americans face today.

Published: Jun 17, 2019
Length: 33 minutes (8,473 words)

She Was Convicted of Killing Her Mother. Prosecutors Withheld the Evidence That Would Have Freed Her.

By the time Noura Jackson’s conviction was overturned, she had spent nine years in prison. This type of prosecutorial error is almost never punished.

Published: Aug 1, 2017
Length: 31 minutes (7,750 words)

Billionaires vs. the Press in the Era of Trump

A look at how deep pockets and expensive libel suits allow billionaires like Donald Trump and Peter Thiel to hamper and threaten the free press in the United States.

Published: Nov 22, 2016
Length: 11 minutes (2,957 words)

The Nazi Anatomists

On “the long-buried history of Nazi-era anatomy” which used corpses of political dissidents and euthanasia victims, and how the work haunts modern science:

Unlike the research of Nazi scientists who became obsessed with racial typing and Aryan superiority, Stieve’s work didn’t end up in the dustbin of history. The tainted origins of this research—along with other studies and education that capitalized on the Nazi supply of human body parts—continue to haunt German and Austrian science, which is only now fully grappling with the implications. Some of the facts, amazingly, are still coming to light. And some German, Austrian, and Polish universities have yet to face up to the likely presence of the remains of Hitler’s victims—their cell and bone and tissue—in university collections that still exist today.

This history matters for its own sake. It also matters for debates that remain unresolved—about how anatomists get bodies and what to do with research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing.

Source: Slate
Published: Nov 6, 2013
Length: 33 minutes (8,426 words)

How to Stop the Bullies

How Facebook, computer scientists at MIT, and members of Anonymous are finding ways to address cyberbullying:

“Lieberman is most interested in catching the egregious instances of bullying and conflict that go destructively viral. So another of the tools he has created is a kind of air-traffic-control program for social-networking sites, with a dashboard that could show administrators where in the network an episode of bullying is turning into a pileup, with many users adding to a stream of comments—à la Let’s Start Drama. ‘Sites like Facebook and Formspring aren’t interested in every little incident, but they do care about the pileups,’ Lieberman told me. ‘For example, the week before prom, every year, you can see a spike in bullying against LGBT kids. With our tool, you can analyze how that spreads—you can make an epidemiological map. And then the social-network site can target its limited resources. They can also trace the outbreak back to its source.’ Lieberman’s dashboard could similarly track the escalation of an assault on one kid to the mounting threat of a gang war. That kind of data could be highly useful to schools and community groups as well as the sites themselves. (Lieberman is leery of seeing his program used in such a way that it would release the kids’ names beyond the social networks to real-world authorities, though plenty of teenagers have social-media profiles that are public or semipublic—meaning their behavior is as well.)”

Source: The Atlantic
Published: Feb 20, 2013
Length: 24 minutes (6,218 words)

The Price of a Stolen Childhood

Victims of child pornography seek restitution, sometimes from hundreds of separate cases:

“Marsh researched legal remedies for Amy. Combing through his casebooks, he found a provision in the Violence Against Women Act that he had never heard of before: it gave the victims of sex crimes, including child pornography, the right to restitution or compensation for the “full amount” of their losses. Enumerating what those losses could be, Congress listed psychiatric care, lost income and legal costs and concluded, ‘The issuance of a restitution order under this section is mandatory.’

“The provision for restitution, enacted in 1994, had yet to be invoked in a case of child-pornography possession. The basis for such a claim wasn’t necessarily self-evident: how could Amy prove that her ongoing trauma was the fault of any one man who looked at her pictures, instead of her uncle, who abused her and made the pornography?”

Published: Jan 24, 2013
Length: 31 minutes (7,952 words)

Shaken-Baby Syndrome Faces New Questions in Court

This is how science progresses: One researcher comes up with a hypothesis, which others question and test. But shaken-baby cases are haunted by the enormous repercussions of getting it wrong — the conviction of innocent adults, on the one hand, and on the other, the danger to children of missing serious abuse. In one study, researchers looked into the deaths of five children who had head injuries that initially were misjudged to be accidents and found that four of them could have been prevented if an earlier pattern of abuse had been detected.

Published: Feb 2, 2011
Length: 32 minutes (8,175 words)

What Really Happened to Phoebe Prince?

The untold story of her suicide and the role of the kids who have been criminally charged for it.

Source: Slate
Published: Jul 20, 2010
Length: 37 minutes (9,268 words)